Questions Of Cash: 'Why won't EDF let me transfer my contract?'

Q. I came to the end of a three-year fixed price contract for electricity with EDF on 31 March. I decided to transfer to Scottish Power, which was cheaper. I asked Scottish Power to take over the account from 1 April 2010. But EDF wrote on 18 March stating the transfer was refused because Scottish Power had requested to take my supply before the end of contract period. It appears that because I did not write to EDF 30 days before end of contract to authorise the transfer to Scottish Power they would not allow the transfer and I am now contracted to EDF for another 12 months at their higher prices, unless I pay a £500 termination fee. Scottish Power says it is happy to proceed with the transfer. I am livid. PS, by email.

A. EDF has now agreed with you a new contract at "very competitive prices", backdated to 1 April. You have obtained a further 2.5 per cent discount on this price by agreeing to pay your bills by direct debit. EDF agreed a variation in normal procedures as you are "a long-standing, valued customer". It explains you had not complied with the terms of the contract relating to transferring suppliers, as specified in a letter in January that warned you the previous contract was nearing its end.

Q. I believe I have been subject to grossly unfair charges on my Alliance & Leicester accounts since August 2008, when I switched banks. My partner and I switched to A&L, but unfortunately we were not accepted for a loan. My partner then returned to full usage of his existing NatWest account. I continued with an A&L account, which I now realise I was being charged £5 a month for a £250 overdraft – which I had been told was free when I opened the account. When I realised this I also reverted to my NatWest account.

In January this year I transferred £250 into my A&L account and another £250 into our joint account to clear the overdraft. Unfortunately I failed to also close the accounts. Statements from A&L now show charges of £100 on my personal account since January and £195 on our joint account. In addition, there have been monthly charges of £5 on each account for the overdraft facilities. I feel the charges are unfair. LH, Cardiff.

A. Although you paid £250 into your personal account in January, at that point the overdraft stood at £336.27. Overdraft fees for December were then added to the remaining balance as you had exceeded your permitted £250 limit. Further fees have since been applied as you are failing to comply with a condition of the account that you make a minimum monthly credit to your account of £500. You also used the account debit card in April, leaving a balance on the account of £235.27 overdrawn. The joint account was also overdrawn above the agreed £250 limit when you paid £250 in this account in January. With the overdraft and underfunding charges that have been applied since then, this account is now £431.82 overdrawn. You have accepted this explanation of Santander (which now owns Alliance & Leicester), but are unhappy the bank did not do more to make you aware of the state of your account. Santander has agreed with you a schedule of repayments.

Q. I took out a mortgage in 2000 with Scottish Amicable – now owned by the Prudential. I opted for the Home Purchaser package with critical illness cover. I did this to cover myself in case I became critically ill to ensure the debt would be paid off. Circumstances have changed and we have paid off the debt in advance of the maturity date of 2015. I have asked Prudential to cancel it, but it refuses. BC, by email.

A. Prudential says once you opted for critical illness cover this became part of the agreement, which cannot be altered. It insists you are covered against critical illness for the duration of the agreement and must continue to pay.

Q. In June 2006 I invested £1,000 in a three-year Post Office Guaranteed Equity Bond. In July 2006 I invested another £1,000 in the same bond issue. In July this year I received the proceeds from the maturity of one of the bonds, but not the payment for the other bond on maturity. VG, Woodbridge.

A. The Post Office says both payments were made to you by BACs transfers. You have now checked your account statements and accept this is correct.

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@