ASK TONY: Why couldn’t Barclays help my grieving brother retrieve £100,000?

Could you help me retrieve more than £100,000 of my brother’s money from a dormant account with Barclays? The money was in a joint account held with his wife, who died last October.

Barclays initially said it had located it. He sent the documentation requested but then received a letter saying the account could not be found after all.

It is now 12 weeks since he sent the documents, including an official copy of his wife’s death certificate and he has heard nothing.

I am 73 and my brother is 82. This is causing us huge anxiety and stress.

M. T., Powys.

Barclays had been very slow to help a widower track down over £100,000 in a joint account held with his wife, who died last October

Barclays had been very slow to help a widower track down over £100,000 in a joint account held with his wife, who died last October

Barclays had been very slow to help a widower track down over £100,000 in a joint account held with his wife, who died last October

Your brother lived in the Czech Republic for some years and the account became dormant while he was caring for his sick wife. He has since returned to Wales and is currently living with you.

When he first wrote to his bank manager in April, the initial response was promising. Barclays replied on April 17, saying that the account had been found and asked for supporting identity documents.

He wrote back explaining that his wife had died last year. He then received a second letter on June 9. This was identical to the first, except his wife’s name was now included, which is a requirement on joint accounts.

The following day he sent the required documents, including a copy of his wife’s death certificate, which was in Czech, but was translated and notarised.

On June 12, Barclays wrote again – this time saying it had been unable to locate the account. And then silence.

When I made contact, Barclays leapt into action, admitting the letter saying the money could not be found was sent as a result of human error. ‘Feedback’ has now been passed to the relevant area.

Your brother’s money, £103,683.03, has been paid to him. Barclays has also added 8 per cent interest for the time he did not have access to the money, an extra £890.82. It has also made a £300 goodwill payment. That’s a total of £104,873.85.

Barclays passes on its sincere condolences for your brother’s loss. A spokesman says: ‘It is evident that, on this occasion, we have failed to provide the high levels of service that our customers can expect to receive, and we offer our apologies for this.’

You have YOUR say 

Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about last week’s story on the big firms still blaming delays on coronavirus.

I’m glad I am not the only person finding this. It takes me hours on the phone to complete the simplest task at the moment. I was so frustrated with my mobile phone provider that I switched to a rival company.

J.C., Nottingham.

I just won’t do business with companies that whine ‘coronavirus’ at me as a pitiful excuse for poor service. 

I accidentally ordered the wrong fridge and the firm I bought it from delivered a correct one within a week. That’s service.

C.A., Newcastle.

My local bank branch is still operating at reduced hours Monday to Friday — and doesn’t open at weekends. 

Saturday mornings would normally be its busiest time, as we can’t all get to the bank in the week.

O.G., Andover, Hants.

Covid is a valid excuse. All the tradesmen I know have a backlog of work they were unable to complete during lockdown. 

Now everyone wants their jobs done and we have to scour parts from all over the world — including countries in lockdown.

J.Y., Exeter.

My 80-year-old mother is downsizing, so I’m contacting all her utility companies with her change of address. 

She doesn’t have email, so I’ve had to ring them all. The time I’ve spent on hold is disgraceful.

I.A., email.

A lot of big businesses had lousy customer service prior to Covid-19. You are always directed to a website and, even if you do get through to a human, they have no authority.

D.L., Gloucester.

I received an email that I thought was from a fellow parish councillor asking me to purchase three £100 iTunes vouchers for her, as she was tied up all day in conference with the district council. 

But 20 minutes after doing so online at Currys PC World, another councillor told me this was a scam.

I called Currys to cancel the order, but it went unanswered and the line dropped out after an hour. I tried twice more that day and also emailed. The email remains unanswered. 

I emailed again to state that I would refuse to accept the parcel when it was delivered on May 21, which I did, and DPD returned it to Currys.

On June 1, I received three separate emails from Currys, each detailing a refund of £110, the additional £10 being the delivery charge.

This was odd, as the order had been for three £100 vouchers plus £10.

A couple of days later, two credit transactions appeared on my credit card statement, each for £110. So, to date, I am still waiting for £90.

There is still no response from Currys by telephone.

M. S., Norwich.

I am baffled by this scam. If someone had asked you to buy the vouchers online and email them to that person, then I could understand it. 

But as you took physical delivery, it is difficult to see how they could complete the heist without actually knocking on your door.

Perhaps your choice of physical delivery unwittingly foiled their plans.

Currys says a technical error prevented it from making the full refund.

It has now returned the remaining £90 and generously offered a £40 goodwill gesture for the inconvenience you suffered when the phones were not answered.

Straight to the point 

My employer has covered my mobile phone bill for almost six years. I have now been made redundant and my company is allowing me to take over the contract so I can keep my mobile number. 

However, EE won’t offer me a deal for less than £50 a month, which I cannot afford.

D.M., via email.

EE says it needed permission from your previous employer to transfer ownership of the contract. 

It now has this and offered you a consumer tariff that costs £35 a month which it says you are happy with.

*** 

My son told me that I’d been paying for a TV licence for six years since I turned 75. I spoke to TV Licensing who said this overpayment would be refunded. 

I rang ten days later and was told that I may have to wait four weeks for it to be processed. This week I was told it could be ten weeks.

S. K., Darlington.

TV Licensing says it has to verify proof of age before accepting a claim. It apologises and says it is now processing the refund.

*** 

At the start of lockdown, my 21-year-old son ordered a set of dumbbells costing £268 from an online company called Platinum Supps.

When they failed to arrive, my son contacted the firm, which said they were out of stock. 

He was offered a replacement and then a refund — yet, five months later, he’s had nothing. 

I. A., via email.

The firm says it has struggled with staff shortages so closed its website to fix ‘all issues’. It has now refunded your son and offered a 40 per cent lifetime discount.

*** 

I am ready to exchange contracts on a flat, but my solicitor insists I insert a ‘Covid clause’ so I can delay completion, if someone has to self-isolate, for example. 

The four others in my chain refuse to accept the clause. Is it essential?

E. H., Putney, South-West London.

It’s not considered essential by The Law Society and many deals have been completed without it. It protects you from financial penalties if you are unable to complete due to coronavirus. 

But if someone else pulls out due to the pandemic, you will not be owed compensation.

In January, my gas smart meter went loony, galloping away with fictitious usage numbers. This happened several times. British Gas agreed it was faulty and replaced it in April.

However, British Gas is still billing me using data generated by the faulty meter, resulting in an alleged usage which is twice as much as normal.

P. B., Burnley.

Ah. Yet another daft smart meter. I receive so many complaints about these that I wouldn’t consider having one installed.

British Gas confirms that your bill was based on incorrect figures and that it had not been updated correctly — even though you had informed it of the problem. The errors have now been corrected.

In light of what it admits is poor service and overcharging, it has cleared all usage costs associated with the old meter for the disputed period from January 27 to April 18, when the meter was exchanged.

It has refunded £195.10, lowered your payments to £74 per month and credited £100 to go towards your winter usage.

A spokesman says: ‘We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and concern that this situation has caused. Mr B is happy with the outcome and has closed the complaint.’

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