Questions of Cash: More Clarity needed over my Halifax card-check failure

 

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Q I applied for a Halifax Clarity credit card to use while abroad as it has no extra charges on foreign transactions.

My application was declined and the letter said that my credit score is too low. I checked my account on the Experian website and there is no indication that Halifax conducted a credit check. I should have a good credit rating as I always pay in full and/or make payments within the time allowed. I have a regular Halifax credit card that I have used without problem for some years. The rejection letter has no phone number to call to ask for further information. An Experian number printed on the letter connected only to a pre-recorded message. Halifax may wish to decline my card request because they would prefer me to continue to use my existing card overseas and pay higher charges, but they should have the honesty to say so. I resent the statement that I have failed a credit score check when they do not appear to have carried one out. NS, London.

A Halifax explains that a fraudster had opened a credit card account in your name. Halifax cleared the balance on the account and you were not charged or inconvenienced. You tell us that while you were aware that "something had happened", you did not know that you had been a victim of fraud. As part of the resolution to those problems, in April last year you signed a Notice of Correction, requiring credit applications to be subject to password verification to prevent fraud and demonstrate any application is genuine. But when Halifax's credit underwriting team made contact on this occasion, you did not use the approved password authorisation that was agreed with the credit reference agencies. You were therefore notified that the application was not successful because it did not meet the credit scoring policy and procedure. This is not the same as indicating that your credit rating was poor, though it is understandable that you should believe that it was. Halifax accepts that "the letter may not have been as clear as it could have been". The rejection was not an attempt by Halifax to keep you on an account charging higher fees. The good news is that because you were unhappy with the outcome, the bank has treated your complaint as an appeal to its decision and it has now approved your application to upgrade your facility to a Clarity Card. This will be issued after you have signed the necessary paperwork.

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Q My father died early in the new year, and my mother cancelled her Sky TV subscription on 14 January while retaining Sky Talk. But there was a mix-up with the bill, and her telephone was cut off without warning in early February. A week later, I made three long phone calls on my mobile – because my mother did not have a working phone – to Sky operatives. They agreed to cancel the TV subscription from 16 February, reinstate the phone within 24 hours, activate my account for direct debit payments, and deduct the outstanding account balance of £2.50 from my account. Instead, the Sky TV remains activated, the phone has been reinstated, and a direct debit payment of £127.19 was taken from my account on 23 March. When this became clear, I again phoned Sky and it was agreed that I had been overcharged. I was promised I would receive a phone call the next day to confirm that this had been processed, but I have never had that phone call and I have still not had a refund. JJ, Lancaster.

A A spokesman for BSkyB says: "We are very sorry for any inconvenience that [the reader's mother] has experienced with her Sky account. We have now refunded the money incorrectly taken from her account and have also offered to cover the bank charge incurred by her daughter."

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Q I am using Cluttons in Dubai to collect rental payments from my tenant there. Cluttons has collected three cheques from the tenant and posted them to me in March. I sent the first cheque to my bank – Santander's international division in Bootle – on 18 March after being told it would take about nine days to clear. Numerous phone calls and a letter of complaint later, the cheque has still not cleared in my account. On 14 May, I was told the cheque has been traced to an old Alliance & Leicester holding account, and that the money would be in my account within seven to 10 days. This did not happen. People I have spoken to in the bank since then do not seem to know where my cheque, worth £600, has gone. Santander has paid me £115 to cover my calls and the poor service but the issue is not resolved. My tenant in Dubai is reluctant to hand over another cheque, or put a stop on the previous cheque and pay the agent again. I need to know if the lost cheque will ever be located and credited to my account. I also need to know if the same problem will happen with the other two cheques which were postdated, and I am holding to pay in later. DP

A The cheque was sent by Santander using registered mail to the issuing bank in the United Arab Emirates in March. This was returned to Santander's International Payments Department on 14 June – after you contacted us – marked as return to sender, with the reason given that it was "unclaimed". The cheque was then returned to you by recorded delivery for you to make alternative arrangements. We understand that you will now arrange with your property management agents to have payments processed by electronic transfer – a much better arrangement. As well as the previous payment of £115, Santander has sent you a gift – a mixed case of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon – to apologise for not warning you about the difficulties that can occur in clearing foreign cheques. You say you are very happy with the wine.

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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