Consumer Rights: The job's at risk but the debt is going nowhere


Q. My husband's company has started a 90-day consultation period for possible redundancy. We have a mortgage and, based on a valuation last year, £32,000 equity in our house. Our loan is insured for redundancy, but we have £28,000 of unsecured debt in loans and credit cards.

We have seen a financial adviser, who told us to remortgage. But with redundancy looming, this is likely to be difficult. What is the best solution? JH, Staffordshire

A. The difficult economic climate is likely to bring more cases like yours to the fore. Banks made borrowing extremely easy and sometimes took little account of people's ability to meet their debts. Now, with redundancies looming, repayment problems are becoming a real possibility.

Alex MacDermott from the Citizens Advice Bureau offers the following advice: "Check if your husband has PPI [payment protection insurance] for any of the non-mortgage debt, which could pay out if he is made redundant. Also seek advice about benefits he could claim if he loses his job.

"Then work out what you would have coming in and going out as a couple if he is made redundant and what if anything the PPI policy on the mortgage will pay out. With all this in place, approach the creditors with an affordable offer."

You are right to think that remortgaging may be difficult. A high loan to value on your property, outstanding debts and no job will make it either impossible or prohibitively expensive. Mr MacDermott also points out that you would not be able to get PPI again. It may be best to exhaust all other options first.

Q. We are having some difficulties with a cash individual savings account ( ISA) transfer from Cheltenham & Gloucester (C&G) to Nationwide building society. We originally applied to open a fixed- rate cash ISA in April 2008, in person at a branch of Nationwide. Since then we have had to resubmit our application four times as the forms have been lost.

To date we have complained and received nothing except a standard response letter. All correspondence seems to have been ignored by both groups.

It has also proved impossible to talk to C&G's customer services department on the phone. JS, Northampton



A. Yours has been a common problem this summer, with many ISA applicants finding that funds leaving their old accounts have taken a long time to turn up in their new ones. Nationwide admits that high volumes have led to delays in processing ISA transactions, and it took the society nearly two months to request the money from C&G.

For its part, C&G then took another three weeks to send the funds across.

Under HM Revenue & Customs guidelines. the whole switching process is meant to take a maximum of 30 days, so these delays demonstrate shabby administration.

When prompted, Nationwide got itself together quickly and gave the following response to your query: "The ISA is due to be opened tomorrow and the new account details should be received in the next few days. It is Nationwide's policy to backdate ISA transfers to the date on the cheque issued by the old provider, and therefore there will not be any financial disadvantage from the delay. We apologise for the inconvenience caused by the delays in the transfer process. As a gesture of goodwill, we will be sending £50 for the stress and inconvenience caused."

In the circumstances, this seems a fair resolution.

Q. I held £43,000 in a post office instant access savings account. Ten days before I was due to complete on a house, I called the helpline to see when I could transfer the cash. However, I was told that the Post Office does not transfer via Chaps (the electronic bank-bank payment system) and I would have to write in to make the switch.

I did this immediately and sent the letter registered mail. Five days later, the cash had still not been switched.

I called up and was told that because it was a new nominated account, there was a five-day "hold" on any transactions – "in the small print", apparently.

This was complicated by the fact that I had lost my security number. I requested that a new one be sent, but a week later this had still not arrived,

Although this was inefficiency on the part of the Post Office, I keep being told I can do nothing to resolve my case without this number. We will now incur considerable costs finding the money from another source for completion on the house. TM, London



A. You have learnt the hard way that "instant access" is very rarely instant. The Post Office describes the access for the product as "unbeatable" in its marketing literature, but most high-street banks offer better access, not least because they use the Chaps system.

This case also highlights the complexity of many of these accounts. Customers are expected to read pages and pages of small print, much of which can be important, as you have found.

Brendan Kearns, senior manager of savings at Post Office Financial Services, says: "With the danger of online banking fraud, the procedures described are absolutely necessary to ensure the security of funds. The requirement that requests for transfers over £15,000 are made in writing adds an extra layer of protection. We use the security number to ensure we are dealing with the correct account holder, and we cannot proceed if the person contacting us does not have it.

"The five-day freeze allows us to write to the customer, alerting them to the request and giving them the chance to check the new account details are correct."

Fraud procedures are necessary, of course, but the Post Office did not keep you well-informed and many banks have developed more flexible ways of operating.

The money is supposedly on its way, but if it still to materialise, I would suggest calling the Financial Ombudsman Service on 0845 080 1800 to register a complaint.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

    Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

    Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

    £Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

    Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

    £Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

    £90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game