Simon Read: Beware of the phantom membership company

An Independent reader noticed a charge of £150 on her bank statement to a company called My Essential Savings, which appears to be fairly non-existent

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The Independent Online

On the subject of unfair charges, I suggest you all check your bank statements to see what horrors may be lurking there. BT's £1.75 could have hit millions, but other companies are at it too. Reader Sally Justice is with Virgin Media, but after reading my article she checked her statement just in case. She discovered, to her surprise, that she's been paying £2.25 for caller display.

I talked to the company on her behalf and it agreed to review her account and charges. "It has arranged a new package for us with upgraded equipment (mine is five years old), a higher broadband speed and a discount on the package with no installation charges," Sally told me.

But another reader got in touch with a slightly more disturbing charge that popped up on her statement last week. It was £150 to a company she'd never heard of, called My Essential Savings. I've looked into the firm, which appears to be a membership company that promises discounts and deal to its members. But it doesn't reply to phone calls, doesn't answer emails or Twitter messages and, all in all, seems to be a fairly non-existent. Its Twitter feed, for instance, hasn't been updated since May.

If it has gone bust, why is it still taking money out of people's accounts? I'm hoping the bank concerned can help with more details, but it's another puzzle and worrying. I wonder what puzzles you may discover on your bank statement.

twitter: @simonnread

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