A spokesman for National Savings admitted yesterday: 'We have had complaints from customers. I think the general feeling is that they have missed the boat.'
One Independent reader, who posted a cheque for pounds 30,000 from London to the National Savings Glasgow office at 4.45pm on Monday learned to her dismay that her application might be too late to receive the original rate.
'I stand to lose pounds 150 if the application does not get there on time,' she said.
National Savings announced on Monday evening that the rate on the bond was to be dropped from 7.75 to 7.25 per cent, net of tax. The interest rate was cut in the face of mounting pressure from building societies fearful of the way it would further cut their savings flows.
National Savings undertook to pay the old rate on any First Option applications received in its Glasgow office by noon yesterday.
A spokesman for National Savings said that it was under no obligation to give any notice of a rate change on the product and had only set a noon deadline because there was a bank holiday in Scotland on Monday and this might have held up applications.
Post was received at the office at 8.30am and 11am and a special check had been made with the main post office delivering to National Savings to ensure that all envelopes waiting there had been delivered by midday.
Investors whose applications arrived after noon would not have to invest at the lower rate. National Savings would try to telephone them to ask if they wanted to go ahead with their purchase. Otherwise, the bond office would write to them, returning their cheque and asking if they wanted to buy at the reduced price.