Questions Of Cash: Barclays failed to compensate me for mis-selling

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Q You suggested (Questions of Cash, 29 May) that readers "with unresolved endowment mis-selling complaints" pre-dating February this year should get in touch with you. I complained in April last year to Barclays Life Assurance [part of Barclays bank] about the advice it gave me when I took out my mortgage in 1993. It responded in May last year, saying it expected to provide a full response within four weeks. In October it wrote accepting that "the policy may not have been entirely appropriate" to my circumstances and that it was "prepared to uphold" my complaint. It offered compensation of £14,591. I accepted the offer, but only received acknowledgement in March this year. In April, I phoned Barclays' endowment review unit, which promised to investigate, but I heard no more.
JG, Winchester.

Q. You suggested (Questions of Cash, 29 May) that readers "with unresolved endowment mis-selling complaints" pre-dating February this year should get in touch with you. I complained in April last year to Barclays Life Assurance [part of Barclays bank] about the advice it gave me when I took out my mortgage in 1993. It responded in May last year, saying it expected to provide a full response within four weeks. In October it wrote accepting that "the policy may not have been entirely appropriate" to my circumstances and that it was "prepared to uphold" my complaint. It offered compensation of £14,591. I accepted the offer, but only received acknowledgement in March this year. In April, I phoned Barclays' endowment review unit, which promised to investigate, but I heard no more.
JG, Winchester.

A. Showing considerably more haste with us than it did with you, Barclays has paid you £15,311 - the compensation, plus an ex-gratia payment by way of apology, with an extra £500 to be paid into your bank account. Barclays says it "can only apologise for the unacceptable delays".

Q. I am in difficulty with the Inland Revenue because I failed to send in a tax return for 2002 and 2003 and it is billing me more than £1,300. I have called in to explain that I have very little money - less than £6,000 in Premium Bonds and a National Savings Mini ISA. I cannot confirm the exact amounts I received in state pension, as I did not know I had to record this for income tax records. I have gone to a local solicitor, but got nowhere as I do not have a tax adviser. The Revenue is now threatening to send a bailiff round to collect the tax due. Can you help me?
RW, Nottingham.

A. We are appalled at your story and have requested the Revenue not to send bailiffs round to you, but to sort this problem out in a more civilised manner.

John Whiting, a tax partner at the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, says: "It seems as if this is yet another example of someone getting confused by the tax system and then being faced with demands that he finds difficulty in working out.

"It is a sad feature of our system that many people who spend their working lives under PAYE, and thus have no real contact with tax returns, come into the system for the first time as pensioners because of the way things work: the state pension plus a couple of small employers' pensions can mean that you are faced with filling in a tax return, and may indeed have tax to pay if coding notices have not operated properly."

John Andrews, chairman of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, has agreed personally to take up your case with the Inland Revenue to attempt to resolve it.

Q. My son has just finished a year of unemployment, during which he received only three benefit payments. This seems to be the result of having turned down a job he felt unqualified to do. Repeated letters failed to get the benefit reinstated. On one occasion he was interviewed and told a mistake had been made and he was entitled to benefits, only to have this view over-ridden by another official who said he had waived his rights to his benefits - but my son has not signed these away. The Jobcentre says the matter is closed, but is there a chance of him receiving these missing payments?
JC, by e-mail.

A. Maria Zealey, a welfare benefits adviser at the Surrey Welfare Rights Unit - a Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) service - says that while there are time limits on appealing against a loss of benefit there is some flexibility for late appeals.

If an appeal is allowed, your son's case would be considered by an independent tribunal. Alternatively, if your son can demonstrate the Jobcentre provided wrong information or was otherwise guilty of maladministration he can apply to the Department of Work and Pensions for compensation. Your son should seek immediate advice from his local CAB, providing them with copies of all relevant paperwork, including a copy of the original Jobseekers Agreement which he signed.

Q. Many Halifax customers have recently been sent new debit and credit cards. We were asked to cut up and destroy our old Switch cards. But my new card does not work at the local Barclays bank cash dispenser, so I cannot get cash easily now. I have been in contact with both Halifax and Barclays, but each blames the other.
DS, Isle of Anglesey.

A. The latest Halifax Visa debit cards should work everywhere in the UK where the old Switch cards work and on more machines abroad.

However, an internal error at Barclays deleted part of the data required for its system to recognise the new cards, which meant that the cards were not recognised for several days by Barclays' ATMs. This problem has now been resolved.

* If you have questions, write to Questions of Cash, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail cash@independent.co.uk We can reply only to letters published. Please send copies, not originals.

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