Questions of Cash: Too late to argue over 'decent lump sum'

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The Independent Online

Q. In autumn 1984 my husband and I took out a 15-year endowment mortgage on the advice of Halifax.

Q. In autumn 1984 my husband and I took out a 15-year endowment mortgage on the advice of Halifax. They said that if anything should happen to my husband, who was 17 years older than me, I would have my mortgage paid off and a good lump sum to provide for our three young children (then aged six, four and one). In 1994, my husband died believing that the mortgage would be paid off and I would have a decent lump sum. When my mortgage was paid off in 1999 I received a lump sum of £80. I have been too distressed to sort this out. Do I still have a case, or am I too late? HB, Liverpool.

A. You stand little chance of obtaining compensation under the Financial Ombudsman Service's rules, which the Halifax is bound by, because you must complain within three years of learning of the effect of any mis-selling. While there are some instances where the Ombudsman will extend this period, mainly where borrowers are only just receiving their second reprojection letter illustrating the scale of under-performance, you are clearly out of time. In addition, your endowment did fulfil the primary objective of paying off your mortgage. Determining what constitutes "a decent lump sum" on top of the repayment would be very difficult and it is unlikely that Halifax put in writing the alleged prediction that you quote. Put your request for compensation to Halifax, but we would be very surprised if you were successful.

Q. I am a pensioner intending to retire in the Republic of Ireland. My son will buy me a house in his name for me to live in. The best mortgage he can find is from Bank of Ireland, but it would charge 0.5 per cent more than the best rates in England. The bank manager he spoke to said that rates were higher because it would be classed as an investment property. My son cannot find an English building society that will lend to him. Can you help us? SW, March.

A. We spoke to Bank of Scotland, which has become one of the leading lenders in the Irish market. Because the property will not be your son's principal private residence the bank is not prepared to make a loan at all. Most UK mortgage lenders will not lend on properties in the Irish Republic, whether bought for residence or investment. Conti Financial Services - telephone 01272 772811 - arranges mortgages overseas and offers euro fixed-rate mortgages in the Irish Republic for non-principal residence homes starting at 2.75 per cent.

Q. After 11 years as a nurse in the NHS I am working as a university lecturer. I have consistently paid into the NHS pension scheme. I believe that I can transfer my pension rights from the NHS to the Teachers' Pension Scheme. What would be the benefits and disadvantages of doing so? If I return to the NHS, can I transfer it back again? MW, Oxford.

A. Simon Creeber, a pensions specialist at the adviser Glaisyers, says: "As a lecturer you should be eligible to join the main University Superannuation Scheme (USS). Fortunately for you, both the NHS scheme & the USS are members of the Public Sector Transfer Club. This is a special arrangement designed to ensure that employees of various public sector bodies receive broadly equivalent benefits for transfers between pension schemes. If you expect your earnings to increase in your new role the advantage of transferring is that your eventual benefits will be based upon your higher earnings. There is unlikely to be any material disadvantage in transferring and you can switch back to the NHS Scheme if you move again. Speak to the USS pensions department for further general information on the Transfer Club."

Q. I have a Citibank Saver internet instant access account. I have been trying to withdraw money from it for a month. The website does not enable customers to do this online and the bank appears unable to set up a withdrawal by telephone. I wrote in early February to close the account and transfer the money to another account, but despite repeated promises nothing has happened. HS, by email.

A. Citibank says that although it is not possible to make online withdrawals via its home page for security reasons, customers can do this using their EPIN via their individual online accounts. The bank is reviewing its call centre procedures in the light of your complaint, but confirms it has now transferred your payment. It apologises for the delay and will send you £25 as compensation for the problems with its call centre.

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