Questions Of Cash: Post Office's travel cash card left me short-changed


Q. I had a Post Office Travel Money Card, which held a balance of €140.19 when it was withdrawn at the end of last year. I was given a refund of £108.67, which used a very poor exchange rate. I have complained to the Post Office, but it has rejected my argument.
CV, Cirencester.

A. Your Travel Money Card expired in December, after the Post Office decided that these products would not be renewed. You have a good argument: the exchange rate used for your refund was €1.29 to the pound. The current market rate is €1.14 and it was €1.16 at the turn of the year.

But the Post Office calculated its refunds using its own buy-back rate as at 14 March this year, when the market rate was less favourable – but even so was less than €1.20. It says it is unable to make refunds in euros, or any currency other than sterling.

The Post Office has therefore rejected your complaint. However, it is sending you £25 as a goodwill gesture in recognition of the long delays in firstly dealing with the complaint you made directly, and then in responding to our repeated complaints on your behalf. This more than covers your loss.

Q. On 7 May you published a question from a reader struggling with the administration of a stockholding in Dr Pepper Snapple Group which, as a US company, required a Medallion Signature Guarantee (MDS) for the stock to be transferred. I had a similar problem as executor of my wife's estate. She held stock in Dr Pepper Snapple consequent on the demerger of Schweppes from Cadbury Schweppes in 2008. I required an MDS to transfer the stock and then effect the sale. I made enquiries and found IWC Estate Management Ltd of Croydon, who quoted a fee of £295 plus VAT to obtain the MDS. The MDS box was stamped by HSBC Securities (USA) Inc. In June received a cheque in dollars. AW, Southampton.

A. As we explained in May, we spoke to the two legal firms quoted by the US Embassy as carrying out the Medallion Signature Guarantee procedure, neither of whom now does so. The US Securities and Exchange Commission suggested that some American banks with UK offices may offer the service here, but the banks we spoke to with operations in both countries said they did not offer this service to British clients. On the basis of your letter, we approached HSBC (which was not one of the banks we had approached previously) to ask if it provides this service to UK clients. It confirms that it does, at a charge of £50 per transaction: it normally takes between two and six weeks.

Q. I recently took out a 0 per cent balance transfer with Barclaycard, at a cost of a 2.9 per cent fee. I feel there are hidden charges not spelled out by Barclaycard. Although the rate is 0 per cent on the transfer, any purchases made within the "interest-free" period are charged from purchase date – I've lost the 56 days to clear balances without charge. I have read the Barclaycard literature and cannot find any clear statement warning of this. The sensible solution is not to use the Barclaycard, which cannot be the intention of the promotional offer. IG, Scarborough.

A. Your situation is a reminder that an interest-free credit-card balance transfer is not the same thing as a free-of-charge transfer. Although you do not pay interest on the balance you transferred, you do pay interest – at 12.9 per cent, with Barclaycard – on the cost of goods and services you buy on your credit card as soon as you buy them.

By taking advantage of the balance transfer, you lose the usual interest-free period of 56 days in which to pay for the items. This is the same as if you withdrew cash on your credit card. Barclaycard says its treatment of balance transfers is standard practice.

A spokesman explains: "As is common across the credit card industry, our customers benefit from an interest-free period on purchases when they clear their balance in full each month, or where the card has an explicit interest-free period on purchases. We are completely transparent about this being the case on our website and in the way we explain our products. When customers have balances that attract different interest rates, payments made to the account are applied to balances attracting higher interest rates first."

Q. Banks are being forced to pay compensation for the mis-selling of payment-protection insurance on loans. I obtained a mortgage from the Skipton Building Society in 1999 and a condition of the loan was that I obtained from it either an accident, sickness or unemployment (ASU) insurance policy, or a buildings and contents policy. Am I entitled to a refund? SW, Bristol.

A. You took out the ASU policy to avail of a mortgage at a lower interest rate. You could, alternatively, have taken out a buildings and contents policy bu, given your home's history of subsidence, you decided it was important to have continuity of insurer. Skipton Building Society argues that you benefited from the ASU policy and there is no suggestion that as an employed teacher you would have been unable to claim on it. Skipton therefore rejects your request for a refund of premiums.

It points out that the interest rate on your mortgage was reduced significantly, compared with the standard mortgage available, had you not taken out a linked insurance policy. Skipton also suggests that you should have relied on advice from an independent financial adviser when taking out the products to ensure they provided you with the best value available.

We checked with the Financial Ombudsman Service, which confirmed that compensation arrangements for PPI mis-selling do not cover instances where a policy was sold as a condition for the sale of another financial product and where the policy provided real benefit.

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Financial Accountant-IFRS-Gloucester-£300/day

    £250 - £295 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountant - IFRS - Glouc...

    SharePoint/C# Developer - Aberdeen - Circa £40K + benefits

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited:...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil