Questions Of Cash: Always read the small print on interest rates
Saturday 21 May 2011
Q. I am receiving a paltry rate of interest on my Santander "Easy Isa". Last year, I received just £22.34 interest, compared to £373.79 the year before. I should have been notified of this reduction in interest rate: I would have switched to obtain a better interest rate. ZG, Leicester.
A. A spokeswoman for Santander says: "We were sorry to hear that [the reader] was unhappy with the interest rate applied to her Isa. We can confirm the interest applied is correct and in her statement mailing in 2009 and 2010 we enclosed a booklet advising [the reader] of our current and previous Easy Isa interest rates. Due to global market conditions interest rates have been falling on savings. The reader's account has a variable interest rate and is subject to change. Rates on our savings accounts are available via Santander UK's website, branch literature or by telephone."
We had several complaints last year about Isa interest rate cuts applied by Santander and its then subsidiaries Alliance & Leicester and Abbey. Since then, the banking standards code has been strengthened and backed by law. Financial institutions must now notify customers by letter, email or text of any reduction in interest rates before they take effect. This reader's situation is therefore unlikely to recur – though careful reading of the material sent to her by Santander should have alerted her to the reduction in rates.
Q. I have a two-year fixed deposit certificate with a nationalised Indian bank, Vijaya, paying 9.25 per cent. Does the Indian government give any guarantees similar to the UK's compensation scheme? AB, by email.
A. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme provides a guarantee for deposits held in UK and some European banks, up to a maximum of £85,000 per institution. As an Indian bank, Vijaya is not covered by the FSCS, but it is covered by India's Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), which operates as a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (the central bank). Under this guarantee, deposits are insured to a maximum of 100,000 rupees – about £1,380. So while you are receiving an attractive rate of interest, a high risk is attached to it. We wrote to the company secretary of Vijaya regarding your enquiry but he failed to reply. It is worth noting that one of the institutions consistently near the top of the best-buy tables at present is FirstSave – a Nigerian bank whose accounts are operated in the UK by FBN, which is registered with the Financial Services Authority and covered by the FSCS guarantee.
Q. In 2006, I made mistakes with my finances which damaged my credit records. I am now 37 with a stable life and job. I would really like to get on the property ladder but I cannot because I have two default notices on my credit file. HSBC issued the notices in 2006 but I was not notified. I believe that if HSBC cannot provide an original copy of the letter to me, showing my full name and address, it cannot prove that I received the letter. If I had received the letter, I would have done something about it.
According to Experian, the two default notices are managed by CL Finance Ltd. I have asked CL Finance for a copy of the default letter but it says it cannot remove the defaults. HSBC says the same. I have complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which says it cannot help with cases as old as this. I have proof that HSBC wrote to me at the wrong address: it wrote to Flat 2, No 24, when I lived at Flat 2, No 22. It also says the default letter production is automated and is unable to produce a copy of the actual letter. EZ, London.
A. HSBC rejects your argument. It says your account was passed for collection to an agency in September 2006, at which time a final demand letter, including default notice, was sent to your correct address. It says its records are clear and all correspondence from HSBC was sent to the correct address. It was only when a second collection agency took over debt collection that a wrong address was used – more than a year after the original default notice was sent to the right address. You have not told us the value of the debt, but our advice is that, rather than dispute the legality of the debt record, you should instead now take advice on how to negotiate a mutually acceptable package of repayments. Advisers who might assist you include Citizens Advice, the Debt Advice Foundation and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.
Q. I am having a problem with O2 about my mobile phone contract and data allowances. I upgraded my contract to an Apple iPhone 4 last July, signing up for two years at £30 a month. For this I am supposed to get 300 minutes and unlimited texts and data, and this is written clearly in my contract. I was never told when taking out the contract that there might be a cap on my data usage. I am not a heavy user of mobile data, only occasionally using it for Facebook and internet browsing.
In September, O2 told me it was introducing a cap on the data allowance on my contract, set at 500MB. I have complained repeatedly that it is unfair to amend my contract after it was agreed and I have had to purchase an extra bolt-on to raise my data allowance: every month I either use more than 95 per cent of my data allowance or go over it. JH, Watford.
A. O2 argues that when your contract was upgraded the tariffs "were clearly advertised as having a data cap", with a promotional period of unlimited data that ended last September. We suggest you contact the industry ombudsman, Otelo, to adjudicate on the dispute.
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: email@example.com.
- 1 Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey makes emotional promise to her unborn daughter
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...
Day In a Page
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof