Questions Of Cash: Caught on the hop by Santander's Aussie money transfer


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The Independent Online

Q. I asked Santander on 30 March to make a telegraphic transfer of £1,000 from my account to an account in Australia. I paid a £25 charge, and my receipt stated: "Some charges may be applicable to this transaction that are not included in this receipt. If applied, they will be detailed separately and advised by post."

This never happened. Unknown to me, the destination account had been closed and I had to wait for the money to be returned. The amount I received back was £918.01. I have therefore lost £81.99, and no one at Santander can tell me why.

The destination bank says it did not make any charge. I think that intermediary banks may have been used, but Santander is unable to tell me anything. I am furious that I have not received a satisfactory answer to my complaints by phone, email and letter. I have made a successful transfer of £1,000 to Australia via the Post Office – a free service. LB, London.

A. A spokeswoman for Santander responded: "The payment which was returned from the closed account in Australia was less than the original amount sent due to the exchange rate and intermediary bank charges. Santander made no charge other than the £25 fee for the initial transaction. We are sorry if this wasn't explained to [the reader] when she initially contacted us. We have agreed a goodwill payment of £35 to apologise for any confusion." Santander explains that the sell rate on the day the funds were transferred out were A$1.477795 to the pound. A fee of A$20 was deducted before the payment was returned. The buy rate when the funds returned was A$1.58800250. By this act of banking magic, £1,000 becomes £918.01.

Still waiting for a rent refund

Q. I rented a property through Frank Innes Residential Lettings in Derby on an assured shorthold tenancy. It began in November last year at £800 a month, which I paid by standing order. We agreed an early termination and I moved out on 26 March, with a new tenant moving in four days later. My last advance rental was taken from my bank account on 26 March.

The lettings agency told me this would be refunded within two weeks. I have since been told several times that the refund was coming, then that the internal paperwork had not been completed and then that the rental had been paid to the landlord by mistake and it couldn't refund me for a month. Next I was told that the current tenant's payment would be held back and I would get my refund at the end of that month – April. I am still waiting and I need the money urgently. PR, Derby.

A. Frank Innes has at our request processed the payment urgently, and you have confirmed that it is now in your account. A Frank Innes Lettings spokeswoman commented: "We always strive to provide quality customer service and were very disappointed to hear of [the reader's] experience. Since this issue was brought to our attention, we have investigated the case and spoken directly to the client to resolve the issue. We apologise sincerely for the communication error which caused this issue originally. Errors such as these are very rare. However, in this particular instance the correction of this error was delayed due to a combination of unfortunate factors."

Hot and bothered over cooling-off

Q. Virgin Media issued me with an incorrect contract at a higher price than I agreed to. The contract was dated such that the cooling-off period of seven days had passed by the time I received the contract. I received no response to repeated complaints about this and Virgin Media's service. JW, Hertfordshire.

A. Virgin Media tells us this is now resolved. A spokesman said: "We can confirm that a new contract was sent [to the reader] on 4 May. As [the reader] states he only received this on 11 May. We're unsure why it took so long to arrive in the post, but it could have been due to the May bank holiday. The monthly contract charges were incorrect, and on 5 June a member of our customer service team contacted [the reader] to reduce the monthly charges to £64.50 as agreed and applied a further £5 credit as a gesture of goodwill for the next 12 months, so he is now only paying £59.50 per month. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to [the reader] during his contract upgrade."

But Virgin Media's spokesman admitted this was not your only problem. "[The reader] called to upgrade his contract. He was previously on a lower broadband tier and, as part of his broadband upgrade, required a new SuperHub to facilitate his increase in speed, and this was to be sent out via courier to his home. Unfortunately, there does seem to have been some confusion with the courier company, Yodel, regarding delivery, which is out of Virgin Media's control. However, we have fed back to them on this case as it is not the service we expect. Yodel sent a text to state the SuperHub would be delivered the next day. However, the driver was unable to locate the address and incorrectly marked the order as delivered. This led to a delay in the delivery of the SuperHub."

A statement from Yodel added: "The overwhelming majority of our deliveries run smoothly for our retail clients and their customers. We acknowledge that occasionally we face challenges which may impact a delivery, some of which are beyond our control, such as incorrect or inaccessible addresses and traffic delays, but in most cases we are able to overcome them. In this particular instance as there was an issue locating and delivering to the customer's home address, we arranged for the parcel to be delivered to his work address. Good customer service is a priority for Yodel. We take any complaint seriously and carry out the appropriate action to identify and resolve the issue and ensure that any necessary steps, such as retraining, are taken to prevent the issue recurring."

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