Questions of Cash: 'My money went missing during transfer of shares ISA'

 

Q. I have an ISA transfer problem. On 10 June I initiated the transfer of a shares ISA from Selftrade to Bestinvest.

On 16 July Selftrade wrote to say the transfer had been completed. The letter was accompanied by a statement showing the receipt of £1,249.82 on 12 July from the sale of International Power shares and a withdrawal dated 16 July of £1,249.82. Those funds have not been received by Bestinvest. I phoned Selftrade customer services on 20 July to ask about this and was told that they believed the cash had been transferred to Bestinvest. I was asked to check with Bestinvest, who told me they had not received the cash. I informed Selftrade of this. I wrote to Selftrade on 27 July and 6 August and received a reply on 12 August, which stated that "we believe that this was transferred across to your new broker" and again asked me to contact Bestinvest. I forwarded the letter to Bestinvest. On 3 September I wrote to Selftrade saying that I was surprised they had withdrawn cash from a client's account without a clear record of where they sent it. To date the cash has not reached my Bestinvest account. JH, Middlesex.

A. Because of what you regarded as the vagueness of the replies you received from Selftrade, you assumed the error in the transfer was made by them. It was not. The mistake was at Bestinvest's end. A spokesman for Bestinvest says: "Following our investigations we have discovered the error was with our custodian, as the funds had been received from Selftrade, but unallocated. This is clearly very unfortunate. We have contacted [the reader] and apologised, as we take full responsibility for this. The proceeds are now in his account and furthermore we have also made a donation to a charity of his choice." You confirm that the funds have been properly transferred to your Bestinvest account and that you have received what you term "a graceful apology" from Bestinvest. It has paid £500 to your chosen charity, Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Q. My wife and I have a current account with the National Bank of Greece which we opened in 2003 or 2004 at their branch in Agios Nikolaos, Crete. We were never resident there, but holidayed there frequently. Due to ill health we have not returned for three years. We now need to access the money, but when I contacted the bank's London branch they said their computers could not access the account in Crete. I find that strange and wonder if they are just not interested in helping us. I had expected our funds to be held centrally rather than inaccessibly in a branch and that is why we chose to use the National Bank of Greece, rather than one of Greece's many regional banks. GB, Wirral.

A. We also initially had difficulties with the National Bank of Greece, with our emails going unanswered. However, a phone call to the bank's London office proved much more effective. It seems you need to know the right contact details in order to make the request for account closure and to repatriate your funds. You can request the funds using the email address, contact.centre@nbg.gr. However, the bank told us it will require you to prove your identity by producing your passport and being witnessed signing the forms. One option is to make the claim in person in London, prove your identity at the same time and ask the London office to provide assistance with your instruction to close your account. As a result of us providing you with the contact details of the right person in London, you discussed the matter further with the bank. It has now agreed your local high street bank can confirm your identities on their behalf, to avoid you travelling in person from Wirral to London. It has also now provided precise contact details for the branch in Agios Nikolaos for you to issue the instruction to close the account.

Q. I have had a string of problems with The Co-operative Bank's fixed term deposits. I recently opened a fixed term deposit with them at my central Birmingham branch for £6,000. But the paperwork came through for £5,000. I was unable to sort this out by phone and was told to go into the branch in person, which meant a time-consuming visit to a busy city centre branch. Eventually the initial paperwork was produced with the figure being unclear – it could be read as either "£5,000" or "£6,000". I was assured that new paperwork would be issued immediately and any lost interest would be added to my account. But no one could advise whether my original deposit account would be amended, or whether a second account would be opened. Several weeks later, I have still heard nothing. I also had problems with my current account a couple of years ago, which led to a delay in opening a deposit account. I bank with the Co-operative because of its ethical banking policies and its high rating in terms of customer satisfaction. This latest bout of apparent administrative incompetence may cause me to rethink my position. NR, Birmingham.

A. A spokeswoman for The Co-operative Bank says: "We can confirm, due to an administrative error, we transferred £5,000 into [the reader's] savings account and not the £6,000 he had requested. As soon as the customer made us aware of this error the correct funds were transferred and our records show branch staff did attempt to make contact to confirm this on 1 August. We are sorry subsequent attempts to make contact were not made and we would like to offer [the reader] £50 for a charity of his choice to apologise." You will be paid interest for the full £6,000 for the entire period of the deposit at the maturity date.

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