Questions Of Cash: 'Our £25,000 seemed lost in call centres'

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The Independent Online

Q We remortgaged with the Woolwich in early May, borrowing an extra £25,000 which we needed on a specific date. When we did not receive a cheque I phoned their call centre, which told me only £19,804 was placed in our current account. We were told a day later this was because £5,000 had been deducted in error and this would also be credited to our account immediately.

But our statement showed nothing had been put in our account. I rang the call centre in mid-June, which said it could not deal with the matter and we had to speak to the individual who was handling it, who could not be contacted. I phoned the complaints line, another call centre, which transferred me to a further call centre that took overflow calls from the original one, which sent an e-mail to the person handling our account.

Weeks later, after many more phone calls, rudeness from operators and very long waits on the line, the matter has still not been sorted. We have also had correspondence for other Woolwich customers and were given the wrong fax number to send documents to them. We are now desperate and frustrated. AC, Nottingham.

Barclays Bank, which owns Woolwich, agrees it made a mistakes in handling your remortgage and is sending you £150 as compensation. It says it is reviewing its procedures to prevent these types of errors recurring. It seems your advance was placed in a new account, but you were not properly advised of this.

Barclays says processing calls through a call centre ensures they are "answered as quickly and efficiently as possible", but admits "operatives are not always able to answer queries comprehensively without consulting the 'case owner' in the processing centre", causing delays. It adds: "Staff should treat customers with the utmost courtesy and apologies if you did not receive this from of staff."

Q I have an investment with Friends Provident which has gone well, and with £3,000 spare I decided to invest it with them. It e-mailed me in March saying it would accept £3,000 as the minimum investment, but could not offer any advice. So I sent £3,000 to be invested on the same basis as my original investment. On 9 May, Friends Provident wrote back saying it was unable to increment my Capital Investment Bond and returned my £3,000. The money was missing from by bank account from 31 March to 22 May and I've missed a lot of growth in these months. AH, by e-mail.

Friends Provident admits errors in communicating with you. First, the minimum investment was £2,000. The investment could have been made through an Investment Portfolio Bond, with an endorsement linking it to your original Capital Investment Bond for tax purposes.

Friends Provident no longer writes Capital Investment Bonds and this led a staff member to give you wrong information and return your investment. It will contact you direct with details on how you can make your investment, which will be backdated to March so that you do not lose growth.

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