Questions of Cash: 'I got stung by the B&B rescue. Can I sue?'


Q. I am one of many Bradford & Bingley shareholders who have lost out through the company's nationalisation. I received 250 free shares, and when asked to contribute to the rights issue paid nearly £200, only to see it wiped out in the nationalisation two months later. I am unhappy with the behaviour of the directors and auditors responsible for the rights issue. The rights issue was made on the basis that the company was a going concern. But it now seems it was not a going concern at the date of the rights issue. The public does not have the same access to information as the directors and auditors, and we could not make a reasonable judgement on the value of the shares. Do shareholders have a valid claim against the directors and auditors? CM, by email.

A. You are not alone in asking these questions. The United Kingdom Shareholders' association is also unhappy about this, and has set up a Bradford & Bingley Shareholders' Action Group, which may consider taking legal action against the directors, the regulator and the Government. For further information, see www.uksa.org.uk/BradfordBingley.htm.

Q. My grandmother is 82, lives alone, cooks on electricity and uses little gas. She lives on £67 a week – all she has to feed and clothe herself and stay warm. Yet she has received a bill from E.ON for £1,867.70. The bill did not indicate if the reading was an estimate, but demanded it be paid immediately. This was a shock for her. When she called E.ON she was told she had to pay the money or risk her service being disconnected. She asked me to contact E.ON. It appears that the bill was estimated, but the company had not made this clear. VB, by email.

A. The error was not because of an estimate, but the result of a misreading by National Grid's meter reader. E.ON has now cancelled the bill, but declined to provide compensation on the grounds that the meter reading error was not its fault. Your grandmother's level of income suggests she may be entitled to a Pension Credit, and we suggest you discuss this with her; further information is available at www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/pensioncredit/.

Q. I filed a claim for additional state pension when my husband reached his 65th birthday on 23 May 2008. My application was acknowledged on 30 April. Since then, I have called the Pension Service several times and was told there is a fault on my account and customer service is dealing with it, but customer service does not talk to customers directly. I am a Swiss national and the people who received my claim form are apparently not trained to deal with cases involving foreign pensions. BC, Teddington.

A. The Pension Service investigated your complaint and accepts an error was made in handling your claim, resulting in a delay. It apologises, a spokeswoman saying it "deeply regrets any upset caused" to you. The additional pension has now been approved at £56.65 a week, with arrears of £861.90 now paid into your account.

Q. I have been an account holder with Abbey National and then Abbey for 13 years. I accidentally went overdrawn by 53p. I was charged £60 – 113 times the overdrawn sum. I contacted Abbey, saying the charge was disproportionate and suggesting, as a longstanding customer, that it be waived rather than me moving my business away. But Abbey insisted I pay the fee. CG, by email.

A. Abbey says its charges were correctly applied. But as a goodwill gesture it is waiving the £60 charge and recrediting the sum, and waiving a further £25 about to be levied for you having insufficient funds in your account at the start of this month. Abbey suggests you talk to it if you want "help in managing [your] account going forward".

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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