Questions of cash: The £3,000 that disappeared from ISA account for five years

Q My wife and I noticed that a credit she made to her Bradford and Bingley ISA account of £3,000 in December 2006 had not appeared on any statement from Santander after it took over Bradford and Bingley [in September 2008].

We tried to take this up with the Reading branch of Santander, who told us that the bank's customer services department would contact us, which they never did. Eventually the Reading manager suggested we deal direct with customer services. After we sent two letters in January and March of this year, the second was acknowledged in April and Santander then began an "investigation". We have since twice been asked, and have sent in, the Bradford and Bingley documentation. The second time it was not returned. We have had a series of letters, each from different customer service advisors – most of whom do not seem to have read the file. We have had two holding letters and two that acknowledged our case, promised to resolve it, but eventually did not. Attempts to speak or write direct to the senders of the more constructive letters failed and we have now again received bland holding letters. This has gone on for more than six months. We have tried going to the Financial Ombudsman, but again we have just hit problems doing this. Meanwhile, we are still missing my wife's investment of £3,000 from 2006, plus the interest on this.

DM, Berkshire.

ASantander accepts that you are correct in your complaint and describes your wife's problem as being caused by a "one-off systems error" that caused the deposit not to be shown on her statements. The bank has now ensured that the payment is properly shown in your wife's account, plus interest, with an additional payment made in recognition of its errors. A spokeswoman for Santander says: "We are very sorry to hear about the service [the reader and his wife] experienced when they contacted us regarding a deposit made to a Bradford & Bingley ISA in 2006. We have investigated this issue and confirmed with [the reader and his wife] that their funds, and the interest that has accrued since the deposit was made in 2006, are held in the account. We have given [the reader and his wife] a goodwill payment of £150 to apologise for the inconvenience they have experienced by the delay in confirming this information."

Q I have been trying since April 2010 to trace my Abbey Postal Cash ISA, in which I invested £3,000 in March 2005 at Abbey's Putney branch. I failed to notify Abbey [now rebranded as Santander] of a change of address, so its correspondence did not reach me. As a result, the account was "frozen" and regular statements were not sent to me. I have been trying to regain access to the account for the past 16 months. After letters were sent to various Santander offices, I finally received a reply on 10 June 2010 from the business manager of ISA customer services in Bradford and, as requested by them, I provided a copy of a recent bank statement and a utility bill and sent these to Bradford on 14 July 2010. After six weeks, I had no reply and my bank statement had not been returned. I contacted the office again and was asked to provide full identification at a local branch. I did this in October 2010 and was promised that the missing ISA details would be provided to me shortly. This did not happen and instead I was asked to again provide identification at the same Santander branch in December 2010. I was promised that I would be given information without delay on my missing account, but this did not happen. I again attended the Santander branch with my identification in May this year – for the third time – and once more I was promised that full details of the Abbey ISA would be provided to me without delay, more than a year after I first raised the matter with Santander. I have still heard nothing, despite sending letters of complaint by registered post to Santander's complaints office in Milton Keynes. Nor have I had an acknowledgement that I have submitted two formal complaints. I also want compensation from Santander for the derisory rate of interest it pays on ISAs, which I have been unable to do anything about as I could not move my account. I am at a loss to know what to do next and would be grateful for any help that Questions of Cash might provide.

EM, Dorset.

A As with DM of Berkshire, we can report progress. Santander apologises, has located the account and has offered to pay compensation. The bank calculates that if you had switched to Santander's highest interest ISA, the Direct ISA 6, you would have received £84.05 over this period, at 2.0 per cent interest – significantly above the £5.82 you actually received. Santander therefore proposes to pay you the difference of £72.20, plus a goodwill payment of £100 in recognition of its failure to deal with your complaints and enquiries.

Q I paid Vodafone for a top-up of its mobile broadband service, but the service did not work – apparently because of network problems. I am trying to get a refund of the £15 I spent for a month's service that I did not receive. I have spent a lot of time trying to get this processed.

CD, London.

A Vodafone has not replied to our inquiries on your behalf, but it has responded directly to you. Your £15 payment has been refunded, with an additional £10 in recognition of the difficulties you encountered trying to resolve the matter. Apparently, Vodafone probably replied to you on the number of the mobile broadband service that was not working.

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:

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