Questions Of Cash: Deutsche Bank and the disappearing ISA

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A. Deutsche Bank denies it made any error in the handling of your ISA. It says that the ISA was set up on your behalf by your independent financial adviser, which had two clients with your name. The IFA provided the wrong client details for your account. "As soon as Deutsche Bank became aware of the confusion, we took steps to correct the matter," says a bank spokeswoman. "The customer's ISA account has been restored, with no loss of earning, value or tax status.

The cheque that "bounced" did so as a result of delays in paying it into your account, during which time the account upon which the cheque was drawn had been closed.

The IFA you used was BMA Services, currently run by Wesleyan. The friendly society says the error was the result of flawed systems previously used by BMA Services and "human error by an individual who is no longer with the business". Wesleyan also says that the system has now been replaced and comprehensive checks have been put in place to prevent the error being repeated.

Deutsche Bank did not respond to our request for reassurance that your experience could not be replicated with another client. We find your problem very disturbing and have sent the papers to the FSA, requesting that it examine the systems of both Wesleyan and Deutsche Bank to ensure that they operate securely. Wesleyan is sending you a cheque for £250 as a goodwill gesture.

Q. I was a customer of London Energy (owned by EDF) until July 2001, when an Npower salesman persuaded me to switch to his company for both gas and electricity. In December 2004, having paid my Npower bill by direct debit each month since July 2001, I moved out of the property and told Npower to close my account. I paid the final bill before moving out.

Out of the blue, last month I was contacted by bailiffs working for London Energy. It says the electricity contract was never properly transferred to Npower and that Npower had only advised it of this fact at the end of last year. London Energy has presented me with a bill for £3,171.

I'm angry about the way this whole mess has occurred, but even if I do owe someone for my electricity supply, I can't possibly have racked up a bill this large.
JS, London.

A. Both Npower and London Energy beg your forgiveness. Both companies have written to apologise to you. There seem to have been two mistakes. Erroneous transfers - where an energy provider switch goes wrong - do occasionally happen. Npower admits it made a mess of transferring your account over and London Energy was therefore supplying you with electricity all along. In turn, London Energy failed to spot that although it has since changed the meter at your old address, the reading it took this year was compared to the one you gave on moving out in 2001. The bill it sent you was completely wrong and hugely exaggerated.

Both companies have now waived all charges and called off the bailiffs. They assure you that your credit file will not be affected in any way.

Q. I have complained to the Financial Ombudsman about a buy-to-let mortgage I was sold. I went to the Ombudsman on 4 April, and 14 weeks later, after many phone calls and letters, the service has still not allocated an adjudicator to my case. Is this usual?
JH, London.

A. The Financial Ombudsman Service has many excellent qualities, but speed in reaching a final decision is not one of them. The FOS has targets to handle the majority of its cases within six months, 80 per cent within nine months and 90 per cent within a year. You first contacted it in April, but this only formally became a case in May. In the FOS's terms, this is still within the early stages of case processing. An adjudicator is about to be appointed.

The FOS deserves some sympathy. Its workload has increased fourfold in recent years, and the number of endowment mis-selling complaints it receives has risen from 300 a week to its current level of 1,300 a week.

Q. In 2002, I invested £10,500 in a five-year Clerical Medical Bond. This has produced such a poor return that on 16 June I asked to have it cashed. On 24 June, I phoned to ask why I had received no response. Clerical Medical told me it had checked my bond and I would receive payment in 25 days. I objected to the delay, but was told there were hundreds of requests ahead of mine.
MW, Bath.

A. Clerical Medical apologises for the poor service. It was only able to process your request after receiving your policy certificate, but it only asked for this on 3 July. Your payment has now been despatched, including late payment interest of £18. You are being sent a Marks & Spencer voucher for £25 as a goodwill gesture.

Questions of Cash cannot guarantee to respond to all queries, and 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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