Questions Of Cash: Bank reverses error in your favour


Q. We are currently dealing with my mother-in-law's estate, of which my husband is executor and sole beneficiary. We have arranged for money to be transferred from several of her investments to my husband's account without charge. But NatWest is asking for a fee of £23.50 before making a transfer from her account. Can it do this?
TB, Gosport

Q. We are currently dealing with my mother-in-law's estate, of which my husband is executor and sole beneficiary. We have arranged for money to be transferred from several of her investments to my husband's account without charge. But NatWest is asking for a fee of £23.50 before making a transfer from her account. Can it do this? TB, Gosport

A. The fee is for a Chaps - Clearing House Automated Payment System - transfer, a guaranteed same-day electronic payment that is not needed in these circumstances. NatWest apologises and will do the transaction without charge. It says that an employee wrongly believed you wanted a Chaps transfer.

Q. I have recently received bills from OneTel for calls made in August, September and November last year. Can the company bill me this late? I can't trace anything in its terms and conditions permitting this. SC, Croydon

A. While this is irritating, there appears to be nothing wrong in what OneTel is doing. OneTel says that a data error caused it to fail to initially identify several calls made by you. It adds that its terms and conditions specify: "We will endeavour to bill customers for use of telephone services supplied by us within six months of such use."

While OneTel apologises to you for the inconvenience, it does not offer to write off the cost of the calls. OneTel is a member of the Otelo ombudsman scheme for telecoms providers. Otelo recommends that you contact it for the ombudsman to review your situation. While the question of late billing is not specifically within Otelo's remit, it says that it will consider whether OneTel has been reasonable in issuing late charges to you.

Q. I decided to transfer shares that I held with the stockbroker Selftrade to PADealing after Selftrade decided to initiate an "inactivity fee". PA stated that it did not charge an inactivity fee. I sent all the necessary forms and payment of £400, which was cashed by PA. But two months later, a dealing account had still not been opened. After I had complained to PA I received a letter from it confirming that it had received my payment, but still no account was opened.

I was unable to transfer my shares from Selftrade and had to pay the inactivity fee. I feel that I have been treated shoddily. MR, Northampton

A. The £400 that you sent to PA was a deposit to enable trading to begin on your behalf. However, PA says that Selftrade did not transfer your shareholdings to PA as it was charging a transfer-out fee, which had not been paid. PA has now reimbursed you in full with the £400 fee.

Q. I am a retired teacher receiving a half pension. I took advice from a local independent financial adviser and I now have investments in Skandia's Multipep fund and New Star Monthly Income. I also have holdings in a Cofunds Maxi ISA and a Cofunds PEP. These offer exposure to Invesco Perpetual High Income, Jupiter European and Jupiter Income. I have additional holdings in Jupiter Income and Newton Income, as well as in a Stirling Assurance Maxi ISA. My income from these investments is falling. Should I manage the funds myself, rather than give commission to the IFA? SM, by e-mail

A. Simon Creeber, of independent financial adviser Vale Insurance Services, says: "You can write to each provider and ask that they remove your current adviser as the servicing agent. But this will not result in your fund charges being reduced; instead, each fund manager will retain the ongoing commission normally payable to the adviser. The providers will not be authorised to give you advice regarding your investments. I suggest that you consider transferring your investments to a firm in which you have more confidence, or select an 'execution only' firm that will rebate some of the ongoing commission to you while offering only generic advice and recommendations. To find details of local advisers, contact IFA Promotions on 0800 085 3250; or visit www.unbiased.co.uk."

Q. Last year I took Capital Bank Motor Finance of Liverpool to court in Scotland because it refused to allow me to terminate a hire-purchase agreement, as was my right under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The company's lawyer said it agreed the contract was terminated and it was not seeking more money.

The Sheriff agreed, but months later, debt collectors for Capital Bank began chasing me. I paid the debt collectors £700, which they accepted as full and final settlement, but I have since received a letter suggesting that I still owe more than £500. Capital still hasn't confirmed my obligation has been discharged. DF, Glasgow

A. Capital Bank, part of the Halifax Bank of Scotland group, presents a very different picture of the situation. It says you lost the court case, with the Sheriff accepting its argument that as you were in arrears you could not exercise your termination rights. You could surrender the van you bought, but you would still have to repay any arrears. Consequently, the outstanding debt of £1,245.61 still had to be paid. The bank told you it would accept a lump-sum of £617.75 as full and final settlement. As you paid this last October, you have no additional payments to make.

Questions of Cash is pleased to receive letters, but we cannot guarantee to respond to all queries and we cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash,The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk

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