Questions Of Cash: You can limit the charges for your euro transfers

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Q Friends in Germany tell me all money transfers between bank accounts within the European Union have been free since 1 July, providing the recipient uses an Iban (international bank account number) and BIC (bank identification code). But UK banks deny this. WG, Tyne & Wear

The European Commission has taken action to reduce the often excessive costs of making cross-border money transfers within the eurozone. Since 1 July, banks within the EU must charge the same for cross-border euro transactions as they would for making euro transfers in their own country.

The impact of the new rules in the UK is that banks must limit charges on cross-border euro transfers to the level of charges for domestic transfers of the euro. In practice, this is unlikely to make much difference. But you should be able to reduce your cross-border bank transfer costs by quoting your Iban and BIC numbers. Some banks are already automatically quoting these in correspondence to customers. If yours does not and you are involved in international transfers you should ensure it does.

Q We opened a joint savings account with ING Direct over the internet on 26 May and immediately despatched a cheque of £41,400. We are still awaiting the bank's welcome pack and PIN number to access the account. We have repeatedly e-mailed and phoned and we are now closing the account. KD & KD, London

ING Direct began offering its savings account without noticing that it had a systems fault preventing joint accounts working properly. ING Direct apologises for its mistake and is sending you flowers. It says the problem has been resolved, but the system is now backed up by manual daily checks.

Q I read your article on endowments sold by intermediaries ('A glimmer of hope for policyholders barred from compensation fund', 21 June 2003). I was mis-sold an endowment policy in 1986 by my then employer, Jardine, a financial intermediary. I cannot get any compensation from them. JH, London

Jardine Lloyd Thompson - as the insurance company now is - denies it mis-sold the policy. Its business risk manager, Nigel Manley, told us: "Our review did not indicate the endowment purchased by [the reader] as a member of staff was unsuitable. He took advantage of staff terms and received the commission relevant to the product. Given this, there is no basis upon which [the reader] is entitled to compensation."

There is little redress available to people who argue they were mis-sold endowments by brokers before 1988. Neither the Financial Services Authority nor the Financial Ombudsman Service can assist, and any legal claim you make is likely to be ruled as outside time limits.

JLT is a member of Lloyd's insurance market, which has its own complaints procedure. Lloyd's says your problem is outside its remit, but you can ask the JLT's internal compliance officer, Ed Moore, to review the circumstances. If this does not help, you can ask Lloyd's to examine the case by writing to the Lloyd's Complaints Department, 1 Lime Street, London, EC3M 7HA.

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