Paul Gosling: Double the trouble as Abbey is called to account

Questions Of Cash

Q. Abbey has prevented me from accessing my account for three months after I attempted to change my bank account into a joint account with my husband. This caused me to miss credit-card payments, affecting my credit rating. To make matters worse, I have now received a Visa debit card addressed to me, but in the name of my husband. This is the seventh time that Abbey has done this. Abbey responded by asking me to complete a financial statement. I will not complete this as I do not have a debt problem, other than Abbey preventing me accessing my account. An adverse credit rating has been placed against me entirely because of Abbey's failings, and I have been unable to remortgage my house. To put these problems right, I have made four visits to Abbey's branches and I have found the bank completely unable to handle my phone calls seeking to resolve it. CB, Banbury.

A. Abbey does not wholly accept your version of events, but it does agree that it failed to process your account alterations efficiently. It does not accept that its actions led to you having financial difficulties. Abbey has paid £200 into your account as compensation for its mistakes, which you do not regard this as adequate. You are seeking £610, which you calculate on the basis of having spent 61 hours in sorting out the problem. You believe that £10 per hour is reasonable and quote guidance issued by the Financial Ombudsman Service. We think your compensation request is excessive if it is solely based on reimbursing you for your time and effort. While the FOS guidelines indicate that it can award compensation at a rate of £5 to £10 per hour spent in resolving problems, it also takes into account the amount of time that a customer might reasonably have taken to resolve a case. Given that your correspondence has tended to be long, it is probably optimistic to expect Abbey fully to meet the cost of your letters and emails. Abbey is willing to pay more than £200, if you can demonstrate actual financial loss. But you appear to be unprepared to compromise. As we are unable to assess whether your overall financial situation has been affected by Abbey's mistakes, we suggest that you take your case to the Financial Ombudsman.

Q. In the 14 months since I signed up to Abbey's 8 per cent current account, the bank has failed to pay the advertised interest rate. Instead I'm only being paid 2.5 per cent. Repeatedly the bank has assured me that my account qualified for the advertised rate. Eventually, an "adjustment" of £44 was credited to my account. I assumed this was the difference between the 2.5 per cent interest rate paid and the 8 per cent due – though there was no explanation. But when I checked, I realised that this represented only an extra 2 per cent. EF, Pinner.

A. Abbey applied interest at 2.5 per cent instead of at the promotional rate of 8 per cent on the first £2,500 in your account. When you complained, the branch incorrectly applied the correct rate only on the first £1,000 in your account. Abbey has now credited your account with another £150 – interest due of £93.50, plus just over £50 as a goodwill gesture of apology.

Q. You published a helpful response to a Scottish Power shareholder ("Why did Scottish Power need to track me down, for £149", Questions of Cash, 1 November). I was also approached by Georgeson offering me unpaid dividends in return for authorising a 10 per cent fee. I have also not moved, so I don't see why I should pay an agent to get me dividends I should have been paid. RR, Glasgow.

A. After contacting us, you went back through your old papers again and found an uncashed dividend cheque of £295.20. This was attached to other correspondence from Scottish Power and it was apparently not immediately obvious that it was a cheque. You accept that at least part of the responsibility for failing to be paid your due dividends lies with yourself. However, as a gesture of goodwill, Scottish Power is paying you all the outstanding dividends – more than £700 in total – without applying any administration fee.

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