Questions of Cash: We can't get a paying-in book for our Santander account


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The Independent Online

Q. Our small voluntary organisation set-up a bank account with Alliance & Leicester, through its commercial banking operation. When Santander took over Alliance & Leicester, this automatically became a business account. We pay money in via the Post Office through a cheque-only deposit book.

A year ago, our treasurer rang Santander to request new cheque and paying-in books. Only the cheque book arrived. On three subsequent occasions the treasurer requested a paying-in book, the last two being early April and late May. Assurances were given both times that it would arrive within five working days. No book arrived. At the end of June the treasurer rang again, lodging a formal complaint. Instead of being asked a few security questions, he was subjected to a long list, including the exact date the account was opened. He is a volunteer and was not the treasurer when the account was opened years ago. He felt the call centre was not interested in his complaint.

In frustration, in early July he drove 24 miles to two Santander branches attempting to pay-in six cheques. Both branches said that because we have a business account we could not lodge the payments. He was told the only way to pay the money in was through Post Office branches, that they would not order a paying-in book for us and that he must do it himself by telephone. A teller at one of the branches promised her manager would request head office to phone the treasurer, but no such call was received. We are expecting substantial sums of money to arrive in cheques, yet we are unable to pay them into our account. Worse still, we have to make a payment to a travel company at the end of July and the money in our account is insufficient to pay them. If we do not make the payment on time we lose the £1,050 paid on deposit. JM, Kent.

A. At our insistence, Santander escalated this to a matter of urgency. You have now been contacted by Santander, which apologised and has now provided both a paying-in book and cash card – which eventually arrived impressively quickly once the problem was escalated to a sufficient senior level. A spokeswoman for Santander said: "Feedback has been given to the areas of the business and branch involved. To apologise for the disappointing service we have agreed a goodwill payment of £100." You told us: "Clearly your enquires have moved this forward and as a society we are very grateful. At our committee meeting we have resolved to stay with Santander until the trip finances are concluded and then look for an account which specifically deals with clubs and societies rather than continuing with a business account."

Q. In May I had to cancel an AirTransat return ticket to Canada when I was made redundant and had to work during my one-month's notice period. The ticket price was £400, of which about £300 was tax. I asked AirTransat for a refund of the tax, but it said it was not obliged to return the tax on cancelled tickets. My travel insurer says it doesn't refund the tax portion of tickets. When I asked AirTransat for written confirmation, it sent me a letter saying that the cancellation fee was equivalent to the full price of the ticket, including tax. DW, by email.

A. AirTransat is not alone in imposing administrative fees for cancellations that wipe out the cost of the tax element of the ticket. A spokeswoman for AirTransat said: "Our terms and conditions cover the whole cost of the ticket prices and this cost cannot be broken down when clients cancel their flights. The fact that this price is made up of various parts is irrelevant when it comes to purchasing a ticket which has 100 per cent cancellation charges, is non refundable, non changeable and non transferable. This is compliant with CAA and ABTA regulations. There is no legal requirement for taxes to be refunded."

She added that the lower-cost, "instant-purchase" ticket you bought is conditional that it is fully non refundable. We then took the matter up with your insurer, AXA. It said that it is the underwriter for a policy sold and branded by John Lewis. AXA explained that it has not received a claim from you and therefore cannot give any indication of whether a claim will be met. We looked at the terms and conditions of the John Lewis travel policy and cannot see any reason why a claim for the full cost of the air fare will not be met given the circumstances you have described. You have now lodged a claim on your policy.

Q. My wife bought a kitchen hob for £150 from Comet for her parents who are aged 86 and house-bound. We had measured the existing hob and the store assistant told us that all hobs are "standard". We delivered it to their home and they decided to have Comet fit it. But when Comet arrived a week after we bought it they said they did not have the right cable and the hob was of a different wattage. Our son packaged it up to return. I took it back in perfect condition to Comet two days later, assuming we would get a full refund. But Comet has declined to make a refund because the package was opened and it was now more than a week after purchase. PB, Wakefield.

A. You tell us that following our intervention, Comet contacted you to make two offers: the first to make a refund, less £15 handling charge, which you rejected, and then to make a full refund as a credit voucher, which you also rejected as you do not want to do further business with the company. Comet then agreed to make a full and unconditional refund. A spokeswoman for Comet apologised "for the inconvenience and trouble... and that [your family] have not experienced the high standards of customer care that we would expect." Comet has now made a full refund.

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