Money Grouse: What a difference a week makes

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SMALL delays in encashing investment products can create big differences in the returns received, as retired school teacher George McElwee found out.

Mr McElwee asked the Belfast branch of Norwich Union on 4 January for a cancellation price on his investment bond. He had been investing in the bond for seven years.

The branch quoted pounds 5,598 for the proceeds of encashment. He handed in the relevant documentation at the branch on the same day.

Eight days later, on 12 January, he received notification from Norwich Union that it needed his wife's signature in order to encash the bond.

When he got the cheque, it was for pounds 5,373 - some pounds 225 less than the original valuation - with a valuation date of 13 January. Inquiring about the difference in price, he was told that the life insurer needed two signatures before it could get a valuation.

Mr McElwee said that he should have been told on 4 January about the need for his wife's signature, and he feels that NU should honour the agreement made then.

He said: 'It seems bad to me that such a large company as this is not prepared to honour an agreement made at branch level on nothing more than a technicality, which happens to save them pounds 225.'

NU said that the value of the portfolio was calculated at the close of business by head office when all parties had signed. The company said it was common industry practice.

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

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