Moneygrouse: Bank red over cross nurse

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The Independent Online
GITTE CHRISTENSEN is angry. The Balham branch of Lloyds Bank is embarrassed. 'If you can't even trust the bank,' she says, 'you have to start putting money under the pillow.' For its part, the bank now admits that it made a mistake. But that admission only came after the Independent became involved in the story.

Last Christmas Miss Christensen - a nurse from Karlsruhe in Germany - visited her local branch of Lloyds where she had been a customer for over a year. She gave them a letter cancelling the standing order of pounds 540 which went out from her account each month. Although she did not go into details with the bank, the standing order represented her monthly rental payments to her landlord. Miss Christensen had given him notice and was returning to Karlsruhe. When she found that the bank had not stopped the order, she complained, and it agreed that it was a fair cop. It had her letter on file, and reinstated the pounds 540 transferred from her account in January.

Weeks passed. Miss Christensen returned to Karlsruhe. And the bank tried to trace the recipient of the pounds 540. Unable to find him, it wrote to Miss Christensen in May, asking her why she had stopped the standing order. It also asked her for the address of the recipient.

Miss Christensen refused to give details of her personal affairs and was unwilling to give out private details about the recipient of the money. In June the bank wrote to her again, saying: 'Unless we receive this information, our legal department will decide whether or not to debit the amount back to your account.'

And at the end of July, it wrote: 'There is no alternative but to debit your account with the pounds 540. I should be grateful therefore if you could obtain your own refund.'

In the end Miss Christensen decided to try publicity. On being approached by the Independent, the bank admitted its culpability within a matter of hours - something it was not prepared to do for a nurse in Germany in weeks.

The head office of Lloyds got the Balham branch to reinstate the pounds 540. But the bank said it still hoped for Miss Christensen's cooperation. 'When you have a relationship with a bank it is a two- sided thing.'

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London E1CY 2DB. Please include a daytime telephone number if possible. Do not send original documents or SAEs, as we cannot guarantee to deal with every letter personally.

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