Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s top investigator, battling readers’ corners, exposing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those left out of pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
JC writes: Deposit insurance schemes are backed by the government and are designed to protect tenants from rogue landlords.
However, more than three months after leaving a property, I am still waiting to get my deposit back from Bristol’s deposit insurance service, run by Computershare Investor Services.
Protection: Deposit guarantee schemes are backed by the government and are designed to protect tenants from rogue landlords
Tony Hetherington replies: When you pressed the deposit insurance service to pay back the £1,425 you owed, staff at the Bristol company claimed you had entered incorrect information when you applied for a refund of your money.
You have told me that you believe that instead of transferring the money to your First Direct account, they mistakenly tried to send it to First Direct’s parent bank, HSBC. When they tried to track down the missing money, they discovered that the account that DPS said was paid from simply doesn’t exist. And after many attempts, DPS failed to find your money, which seriously left you out of pocket.
The focus is on DPS’ claim that you gave them the wrong routing number.
On the other hand, you say you hardly know the routing number from memory, so had your bank card in front of you when you typed in the details of where DPS should send yours Money. What DPS has admitted is that when you called and asked about the delay in the payout, DPS staff told you it was up to you to go to your own bank and “request that they return the money.” “ – although of course your bank never received the money and didn’t know anything about the missing payment. DPS sent you £25 as an apology for this.
That was frustrating enough, but there was a glimmer of hope in an email from DPS, which said: “The bank has responded and completed a payment reclaim form to retrieve the funds and send them back to us. This can take up to 36 days.’
But that glimmer was deleted five days later when another email from DPS made no mention of it, telling you no more DPS bugs were found.
I asked officials from DPS to investigate and they insisted that you gave them a routing number that wasn’t even used by your own bank so the payment went horribly wrong.
They say the bank that received the money accepted it but couldn’t credit any account.
When you contacted DPS, it took almost three months to track down and recover the money. You’ve now received £1,419, which is £6 less than you expected, but you’ve chosen not to make a fuss about it.
They told me: “I will claim to my last breath that I have the card in front of me when I enter bank details. I could understand if digits were mixed up – but a completely wrong sort code for a completely different bank? In hindsight, I should have taken a screenshot.” Good advice!
Scottish widows’ silence on late mother’s politics
Delay: Scottish Widows paid an additional £300 as an apology
IM writes: My mother died on March 16th and I started arranging her funeral. She had life insurance taken out in 1993 with a death benefit of £1,651.
On 22nd March I filled out the Scottish widow’s bereavement form online and emailed a copy of the death certificate.
I didn’t hear anything so I called them on April 8th and they got me to repeat all the information I had submitted online.
Tony Hetherington replies: You have told me that when you still haven’t heard anything you called Scottish Widows again on May 4th and this time you were told to resend the death certificate but to a different email address , which you also did. You also filled out an online complaint form and received a letter dated May 10 saying someone would be in touch with you, but no one did.
I asked Scottish Widows to look into this and a spokesman told me: ‘We apologize for the service Mr M received on this occasion’. The policy payment was paid to you immediately together with £16 interest and £300 as an apology .
I deposited £40,000 into my Halifax account… but where is it now?
BM writes: I have a Halifax Investment Fund Managers account that I have funded for many years.
I estimate I’ve invested over £40,000 but now I can’t get Halifax to give me any information on this.
Missing money: BM estimates he has invested more than £40,000 but now he can’t get Halifax to give him any info on the matter
Tony Hetherington replies: You had a meeting with a consultant at your Halifax office a few months ago. You asked about your investment into which you deposit each month, but the advisor replied that he had never heard of the system. Since then you have written to the branch twice with no reply.
I asked Halifax what went wrong and a spokesman admitted that the branch staff should have been able to locate your investment account because you gave them enough information to do so. Halifax told me, “We apologize for the service Mr. M experienced as we feel we could have handled it better.”
Halifax has now provided valuations showing your investments are spread across a range of funds and valued at just over £122,000.
And Halifax has offered you £35 “as a goodwill gesture” for not tracking your investments or for not replying to your letters. I can’t say that’s generous, but I’m sure you’ll be relieved that your money is safe and has grown over the years.
My wife’s pension was cancelled
TT writes: On April 7th we received our monthly bank statement and found that my wife’s pension had not been paid for five weeks.
We called the Department for Work and Pensions and in 55 minutes we made three calls and were routed to three different departments.
Cancelled: TT received his monthly bank statement and found that his wife’s pension had not been paid for five weeks
Tony Hetherington replies: When you first called, the DWP officer told you – rather rudely, you say – that your wife had flunked a security check. He told you to call another department but when you did you were told you really needed to call back and ask for a department that deals with changes in circumstances even though your circumstances have not changed at all.
You got lucky this time. A helpful young man explained that the DWP made a mistake and sent a letter to your wife at the wrong address. The letter had been returned to the DWP, so the staff canceled your wife’s pension.
Upon investigating, I found that someone at the DWP had mixed up the last two letters of your zip code. I suspect the rest of the address was autocompleted by the DWP computer and this was enough to send the letter to your house number, but on a completely different street.
Officials say Ms T.’s account has been suspended as a precautionary measure because they were unable to contact her or verify her address with the local authority. Your wife’s pension has now been restored and paid back.
If you believe you have been the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington, Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email email@example.com. A personal answer is not possible due to the high volume of inquiries. Please only send copies of original documents, which unfortunately we cannot return.
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TONY HETHERINGTON: The deposit insurance service needs to sort out what it did
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