Questions of Cash: 'Foreign currency cheques are a nightmare'
Saturday 14 May 2011
Q. I recently inherited some money in France. On 31 March, I paid in a cheque of €81,000 from my French bank account into my HSBC branch, to deposit in my sterling account. HSBC then wrote indicating that this would take six to eight weeks, attaching the terms and conditions for the transaction, but not explaining why there is such a long delay.
I have called HSBC to complain, but got nowhere. MH, Bromley.
A. By coincidence, the transaction was credited to your account on the day we raised your problem with HSBC, four weeks after you presented the cheque. A spokesman for HSBC says: "Foreign currency cheques are a bit of a nightmare: we don't have a great deal of control over how long they take to clear. International banks will only transfer the money once they have physically seen the cheque, so it needs to go back to the foreign bank – and in some cases the specific branch – the cheque is drawn from for authentication. This means we are beholden to the issuing bank in being speedy in clearing the cheque.
"We aim to have sent the cheque overseas within two working days. International cheques are not bound by sterling cheque 2-4-6 timescales [two, four and six days to clear various stages in the cheque processing system]. [International cheques] clear in a UK account only once the cheque has been authenticated by the issuing bank and the funds transferred.
"The good news is that France is geographically close and their banks are certainly not the slowest in clearing cheques internationally, so although we state it should be cleared in six to eight weeks, in the majority of cases it is considerably quicker.
"It might be frustrating advice after the event, but if someone is simply writing a cheque to themselves from a European bank account, we would highly recommend electronically transferring the money instead. SEPA [Single European Payments Area] payments normally take just two days, and from 1 January next year all EEA electronic payments must clear the following day. I appreciate the customer's frustration, but hope this also shows it is not an issue unique to HSBC."
By chance, the delay has worked in your favour, earning you, by our calculation, around €2,000 because the euro gained in value against sterling during the delay – but it could have gone the other way, of course. The cost of the SEPA transaction would have been determined by your French bank, but would probably have cost significantly less than €50.
We wondered whether any delays had been caused by conducting money laundering checks – a matter of widespread concern. But HSBC tells us that in your case no money laundering checks were required.
Q. My wife and I were due to travel from Edinburgh to Heathrow in early December. The night before, we received a message from BA saying that the flight was cancelled because of bad weather and to check the website for further information. We did so and found that we could rebook flights free of charge. But the website would not let us rebook and the phone line was constantly engaged. So our travel agency rebooked us flights from Glasgow. The agency said I had to pay for the new flights and request a refund of £567.43 for these from BA. But the refund from BA was for the value of the original flights – £167.26. We wrote to BA requesting the balance, but it says the agency should not have obtained the tickets on the basis that they did. Eventually BA contacted us requesting our bank account details to pay us the balance, but nothing has arrived. BM, Fife.
A. BA paid the balance of £400.17 into your account shortly after we contacted them. As we have found with previous inquiries relating to BA refund requests, it can take a while for refunds to be credited to customers' accounts.
Q. I took out a loan with Asda in October 2009 for a car purchase, with repayment by standing order. In February 2010 my loan was transferred to Santander. In May last year, I received a letter from Santander stating that I had missed two payments. I produced proof of the payments, produced bank statements and had my bank produce a track of the transactions. In the mean time, Santander registered a defaulted payment on my credit record.
In July last year, I received a letter of apology from Santander, accepting that I had not missed any payments. Then I received further letters stating I had missed payments in September, October, two in November and then again in February. On each occasion I had to repeat the previous process. Eventually I received another apology, explaining there had been a "systems error". Now I find that my remortgage application has been rejected because of a failed credit check.My credit history has always been good.EK, Louth.
A. A Santander spokeswoman says: "We are sorry for the delay in resolving [the reader's] complaint and we're sorry she is unhappy with the service provided, particularly with regards to her loan account. We understand she has been making monthly payments to her Santander loan, from her HSBC account. However, due to a Santander technical error, payments made prior to November 2010 were not applied to the loan account.
We can confirm the payments have been received and we have ensured there are no adverse comments on [the reader's] credit file as a result of this error. To acknowledge the inconvenience [the reader] has experienced, we have arranged for a goodwill payment of £300 to be sent. We hope she will be able to accept this in full and final settlement of her complaint."
Despite this, you are concerned that your credit record may have been damaged, with the reason for the rejection of your remortgage application possibly not properly recorded. At our suggestion, you have contacted the three credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and Callcredit Check – to request that each logs your explanation of your recent problems. This should ensure that your credit status is fully repaired.
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@ independent.co.uk.
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
Buying property overseas? Check out these hotspots
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
Questions of Cash: I've been chased for a phantom debt. What can I do to stop it haunting my credit status?
Offset mortgages: How to save thousands of pounds and reduce the term of your home loan
My Travel Cash card charges a punitive 'inactivity' fee of €2.50 a month
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
Day In a Page
This five-bedroom home in Sutton Coldfield is arranged over three floors, with a detached garage to the rear and a driveway at the front of the property.
In an elevated position above the bay, this four-bedroom home offers sea and headland views. There is a decked balcony and sun terrace - plus coastal walks on the doorstep.
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.