Questions of Cash: Punished by Northern Rock's tough new loan rules


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Q. My wife and I took out a repayment mortgage with Northern Rock in 2003. In 2009 we requested that we be put, temporarily, on an interest-only arrangement. This was agreed, after which we both entered into an IVA (an individual voluntary arrangement).

After five difficult years we want to revert to a capital repayment mortgage arrangement to ensure the mortgage is repaid in full, on time. We are now "mortgage prisoners" unable to remortgage, which we want to do to take a long-term fixed rate to protect against rate rises. Northern Rock (Asset Management), which has taken over the Northern Rock mortgage book, does not offer this facility. We have 12 years to go on the original mortgage term.

I wrote to NRAM requesting to go back to capital repayment from 1 February. I was asked to phone them, which I did and was then put through to the "payment difficulties" section. I was put through to someone else and told that, as they are "responsible lenders", they must conduct a 45-minute interview to assess if we could afford the repayments. We do not wish to do this. RI, Hampshire.

A. The old mortgage books of Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley and Mortgage Express, are being operated by a government body, UK Asset Resolution. We understand that UKAR is dealing with a very complicated loan book. This complexity may have contributed to UKAR dealing wrongly with you. A spokesman says: "UKAR is committed to treating customers fairly. In this case we made a mistake and we have now acted to put the matter right. We have apologised." You will revert to the repayment arrangement from February.

Talktalk package and refund woes

Q. My nephew has cerebral palsy, is hard of hearing and has impeded speech. Repeatedly TalkTalk sales staff persuaded him to accept a broadband package beyond his needs. A month before the latest one expired, sales staff began phoning to pressure him to accept a new package. He asked me to switch him to Plusnet and cancelled the direct debit.

My nephew received a letter on 13 August demanding a final payment of £42.09. On 18 August I logged on to his account to discover that the payment demand had increased to £52.62, and had to be paid that day. I decided to pay online with my credit card. I printed the web page out but a confirmatory email did not arrive. Two hours later my nephew received an automated call telling him that the bill had not been paid and threatening him with the bailiffs. CH, Oxfordshire.

A. TalkTalk has apologised for the confusion over the billing, but not in relation to your allegation of pressure selling of its services – which we assume it denies. We have obtained on your nephew's behalf a mere £14.50, representing the £10 charge for late payment and the £4.50 charge for not paying by direct debit. This settlement seems mean to us, but while TalkTalk apologises for the difficulties encountered in making a payment to close the account, its position is clearly that it has done nothing else wrong.

BA pays compensation for damaged case

Q. I flew with BA to Budapest, where my checked-in suitcase was found damaged coming off the carousel. This was reported at the terminal to BA's handling agents, Celebi, who sought a hotel address for a repairer. I had to decline this as I was on a touring holiday. BA has refused to pay me compensation, saying my claim was not made within seven days. NP, London.

A. BA has paid £150 into your bank account. A spokesman says: "We are sorry that the bag was damaged. In situations like this we require customers to file a report within seven days of any damage being discovered, but we recognise that on this occasion the matter was raised with airport staff and should have been resolved as a result."

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we'll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at:

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