Money Grouse: Victorian methods linger at the bank

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AS WOMEN marked International Women's Day last Monday, Janet Little was still fuming over the 'Victorian' way she feels Midland Bank dealt with her recently.

'My husband and I have a Midland Access card each,' Mrs Little explained. 'The account is in his name, only because we originally opened it for him as he hates carrying a cheque book. We then decided to add my name to the account as it was a convenient way to pay for everything we bought. I use my card a great deal, my husband uses his only about twice a month.'

The family went to the United States on holiday recently and Mrs Little used her card there several times. She encountered some problems in having the credit card authorised at certain shops and wanted an explanation from Midland when she returned home. She wrote to the bank.

'A short while later a reply arrived, addressed to my husband, requesting further details.'

Mrs Little was furious that Midland Bank had written to her husband when she had written the original letter. She wrote to the bank again. 'I pointed out that the main user of the card was me and that every single cheque ever sent to Access to settle our account had been signed by me.

'A further reply came, again addressed to my husband.

'Each of these letters said 'Dear Mr Little, thank you for your letter. . .' No mention whatsoever was made of the fact that I had written, except to say that they only corresponded with the card holder in person.'

By now, Mrs Little was so angry about her apparent non-person status with the bank that she telephoned. She spoke to a customer service clerk who agreed that, yes, it would have been better if the bank had addressed its letters to her.

Mrs Little demanded a written apology, which duly arrived, addressed to . . . Mr Michael Little.

After Money Grouse drew Midland's attention to the nonsensical way it was dealing with its customer, the bank agreed it had made a mistake. It promised to write to Mrs Little and to refund a year's pounds 12 fee for the card.

The bank insisted, however, that where an account has a primary card and a secondary one for spouses, all letters would go to the primary account holder unless he or she wrote requesting that correspondence be addressed to the other account holder.

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Include a daytime telephone number if possible. Please do not send SAEs or original documents as we cannot guarantee to deal with every letter personally.

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