Questions of Cash: 'HSBC sold my 94-year-old father a six-year plan'


Q. My late father sought investment advice from the HSBC in 2006, when he was nearly 95 and in poor health. Yet the HSBC adviser recommended two six-year savings products from HSBC: a Guaranteed Capital Account and a Capital Protected ISA. My father took this advice. He died last year and my sister and I are executors of his estate.

I wrote to HSBC in May asking why he was advised to take out long-term investments at his age and state of health. HSBC rejected my complaint saying that the prepared summary of financial needs purports to show that the investment was suitable; that my father was provided with the product brochures and key features documents; that he was provided with the required cancellation notices; and that my sister was present at the discussions, to go through the options available and that she agreed with these investments.

My sister says she was present merely to ensure our father could hear the advice and sign the documents, not to agree the investments. The adviser should have stated unequivocally that these investments were not suitable for our father. They earned just 0.0095 per cent. MS, by email.

A. We share your astonishment that HSBC should recommend these products and that it did not immediately uphold your complaint. It has again reviewed its advice – and changed its conclusion. The bank says: "Although we went through the correct sales process with the customer and the type of investment was correct, the six-year term was probably too long to best meet his needs."

Accordingly, HSBC has agreed to pay your father's estate £1,100 – the difference between the investments' actual return and what they would have earned in a Premier Savings Account over the period.

Q. I have a Sky Visa credit card, which I pay off every month. It has never been in arrears and never incurs interest. Yet my credit limit has just been cut from £9,500 to £1,450. We did not even know about this until both my wife and I had the embarrassment of having transactions refused at the till. I had apparently reached my new credit limit. We were only told in writing the following day, giving us too little notice of the change. The new credit limit does not suit my pattern of spending. As a result, I will be forced to make interim payments during the course of the month. If they really want to cut my spending limit, then £3,000 would be a more reasonable sum. But when I took this up with Sky, it rejected my case, saying its decision is final. DA, Exeter.

A. The Sky card is issued by Barclaycard. Like most credit card issuers, Barclaycard is in the process of reviewing credit limits, cutting these where it believes customers are "over-stretched" and withdrawing cards that are not regularly used. But the explanation for your problem is different. There was an information-feed problem with Barclaycard's IT system, leading to its system losing access to your recent credit history and wrongly cutting the credit limit for yourself and many other customers. Your credit limit has now been fully reinstated.

Q. I bought a Hitachi hi-fi from Curry's for £129.99, but was unable to tune the DAB radio, the manual didn't help and the shop I bought it from said they could not provide support for a radio unit. Hitachi's helpline said it was also unable to provide support for a radio unit. Curry's has refused to exchange the unit or provide a refund because I changed the mains plug – which has no effect on the performance or the tuning operation. Curry's has offered to visit me to show me how to tune it and check the installation, but they would charge £89.99 for this and it is not value for money. LY, Ottershaw.

A. At our request, Curry's has agreed to check the unit at its store, explain how to tune it and will make a refund to you if the unit is faulty.

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

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