Questions Of Cash: 'Come on Lloyds, all I want is my debit card'

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The Independent Online

Q In May, I opened an account with Lloyds TSB. I am still waiting for the debit card, in spite of more than 30 phone calls and three formal complaints. Without a debit card I have to withdraw cash from my bank in Spain, which charges me for each withdrawal. After my first complaint, Lloyds TSB offered me £25 compensation, which will not even cover the cost of my calls, let alone the transactions from my Spanish bank. My second complaint led to Lloyds TSB withdrawing the compensation offer, rejecting my complaint and saying that the debit card had been waiting for me since 1 July at the Camden branch. When I went there – losing income – I was told it had never been there. Now, Lloyds says the debit card is waiting for me at the Hampstead branch. I can't accept this service any longer. TA, London.

A Lloyds TSB accepted it made a series of mistakes, provided its "sincere apologies" and offered compensation of £50. This seemed to us inadequate, given the amount of inconvenience and the cost of its mistakes. Lloyds TSB said it would consider reimbursing the actual costs of your phone calls, plus charges from your Spanish bank, if you could prove what these were. But you say these calculations would be difficult. Lloyds TSB then agreed to provide compensation of £100 – which is adequate rather than generous in the circumstances – and you have accepted this.

Q My bank, Lloyds TSB, charged me £57 because I went 13 pence over my overdraft limit for a couple of days. Lloyds TSB tells me that it charges £6 a day for an unauthorised overdraft, whether it amounts to one penny or £100. I am unemployed. What can I do about this? SG, London.

A Lloyds TSB says the charges were correct. It adds that after the first week, the size of the unauthorised overdraft increased because of a £4.95 debit card transaction. "Under our charging structure the customer incurred seven days' worth of £6 fees, plus a £15 monthly fee for this billing period," says a bank spokeswoman. She adds that the bank regards its fee structure as "entirely transparent" and that you, like other customers, were given a "grace period" in which you could make a credit to your account to avoid the charges being confirmed. We asked Lloyds TSB to waive the charges on hardship grounds, but to do this the bank says it needs to "conduct an income/expenditure assessment" with you. It says it wrote to you last month offering to do this, but you have not responded.

Q I have been trying since April to open an executor's account with Barclays Bank, following the death of my aunt. There are three executors: one in London, one in Kent and myself in Staffordshire. Paperwork has to be circulated between the three of us and filled in at separate Barclays branches, causing terrible problems. The local Kent branch cannot do this type of work. Another branch can only deal with it three days a week, when a particular member of staff is in. One executor's identity documents were rejected because they showed a middle name that was not in the will. Then Barclays' Glasgow office lost some of the paperwork and we had to start again. Now, the revised paperwork, previously accepted, has been rejected by Glasgow. We can't sell my aunt's house until this is resolved, pay her bills, or reclaim money I have spent on home insurance and for skips to clear out her house. PC, Stoke-on-Trent.

A Barclays apologises and accepts that its service "has fallen short" of the service you should have received. It has now speeded up the process and opened the executor account. However, it says that unless you have evidence to the contrary, it does not accept that its delays prevented you putting your aunt's house up for sale. Barclays is sending you £250 as compensation.

Q I'm letters from Barclays saying my graduate loan account is in arrears. It is not. I can't get Barclays to take any notice of my complaints. SB, Andover.

A When Barclays set up your graduate loan for £4,400, it set the wrong interest rate on the account. The loan had been sanctioned and notified to you at 7.775 per cent, but was being charged at 20 per cent. This has now been corrected and the account is no longer shown as in arrears. Barclays apologises for the error and for failing to respond to your complaints by stopping its recovery action. It has sent you flowers to say sorry and credited your account with £50 to cover your phone calls seeking to resolve the problem. The bank says that staff at your local branch will be given "feedback" on their failure to properly address your complaints.

Q We plan to sell our £1.8m house and will probably rent while we look for another property. We will need somewhere to invest £1.8m for a short period. We are worried by the £35,000 limit from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). We might need to make a withdrawal at perhaps seven or so days' notice. BW, Surrey.

A The United States government's rescue of the leading mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plus the merger of the Derbyshire and Cheshire building societies with the Nationwide, illustrate that concerns about the security of deposits remain valid. Since the UK Government's nationalisation of Northern Rock, this and the Government's own National Savings and Investments products are the safest around – as, in effect, they come with a 100 per cent guarantee. There is speculation that the compensation limit for savings in banks and other financial institutions could rise from the current £35,000 to £50,000, but any change would only happen after the completion of a Financial Services Authority consultation. And, as Matt Pitcher of the financial advisers Towry Law points out, fully protecting your investments using the FSCS would require using 52 different financial institutions – which is impractical.

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