Questions of cash: Banks are still chasing charges
Saturday 10 November 2007
Q.You asked whether banks are chasing customers to repay bank charges that remain subject to the legal test case (Questions of Cash, Save and Spend, 20 October). My 18-year-old daughter has been charged outrageous fees, including £30 for a 60p withdrawal. Her bank charges for two months stand at £700. Halifax has sent daily letters, is phoning every night and has threatened legal action. She offered to pay £200 per month, but Halifax threatens to put her on a "credit blacklist" and she faces court action. PS, by email.
A. Halifax says that the "waiver" resulting from the Office of Fair Trading legal case "only suspends the need for banks to deal with complaints on the matter of the legality/size of bank charges" and does not prevent banks from taking legal action to collect debts arising from bank charges. Consequently, it will only write off or reduce debts arising from the charges "where financial hardship is shown". Your daughter's case will now be reviewed using this criterion.
Q.In James Daley's article "Act now to avoid the care home lottery" (Save and Spend, 13 October), he states: "If your property is co-owned with a relative, it should not be counted" when calculating liability for payment of fees. Is this true in all cases? MD, Wrexham.
A. Philip Spiers, managing director of NHFA Care Fees Advice, says: "Your property is disregarded from the means test for care if it is occupied by your partner, a relative who is aged over 60 years or incapacitated, a child under 16 years who is dependent on you, or a separated partner who is a lone parent. There is also a discretion for the local authority to disregard it if it is occupied by a carer who gave up their own home to care for you."
Q.In July I reported to Barclaycard's fraud department a disputed transaction with Travelex UK for £995.62. I was told to deduct the £995.62 from my next payment and that no interest would be charged. On my next statement the amount was still shown as due. I phoned and was asked if I had received a fraud report letter, but I had not. This was then sent. I completed it, but the amount is still showing on my account. JK, by email.
A. The problem seems to have been caused by the original fraud report letter to you being lost in the post. Barclaycard has now credited your account with the £995.62, plus cash interest of £43.30, purchase interest of 74 pence, PPI premiums of £17.09 and a late payment charge of £12.
Q. I saw your article on the history of Questions of Cash ("Your Port in a Financial Storm", Save and Spend, 27 October 2007), in which you mentioned that many readers never let you know what happens after you help them. Back in 2003, after your advice we pursued Lloyds TSB over my wife's life policy, and it added £17,000 to her pension kitty. RW, by email.
A.We are glad to have been of service.
Q. British Gas has charged me £170 for a warranty, which seems disproportionate. HA, Corbridge.
A. This is not a warranty charge, but a collection charge for non-payment of an old bill. BG argues that the charge is reasonable, but has withdrawn it as a gesture of goodwill.
Q. You intervened on my behalf with Carphone Warehouse, arranging for them to clear the balance of my account after problems. Now I'm being chased by a debt collection agency for £47.26 yet again. MP, Salford.
A. Carphone Warehouse failed to notice that your disputed debt comprised amounts on a mobile phone and a Talk Talk landline account. The balance of your account has been cleared. The debt collectors have been told not to chase you. Your credit rating is unaffected.
Questions of Cash can't give individual advice. Please don't send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9RS; firstname.lastname@example.org
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