My 89-year-old husband, who has dementia, had to go into a care home, as I could no longer manage after he had a stroke.
While sorting out his things, I came across two credit card statements — one from Marks & Spencer and the other from The Co-operative Bank.
Age Concern wrote to both and a letter was sent from the care home confirming his condition.
M&S sent back a lovely letter and wrote off the nearly £700 owed.
But Co-op Bank ignored the letters, then sent back one saying a Power of Attorney was needed. I said I couldn’t understand it giving this money to someone who was 88 and not well.
K. B., Hampshire.
Callous: The Co-operative Bank ignored one reader’s letters about her dementia-suffering husband’s credit card debt
The Co-op credit card balance you sent me showed that your husband owed just over £1,900. It looked as though the minimum — around £40 — was being repaid each month on direct debit. With £18.83 interest being charged, the debt was reducing by a little over £20 each month.
Co-op Bank tells me that your letters had not fallen into its automatic vulnerable customers process because your husband was not in arrears.
However, when I pointed out the details of the Age Concern and care home letters, they agreed that you should fall into that category.
Co-op Bank has now promised to write off this money.
But I had one further concern: the letter it sent you saying this was couched in such abstruse terms that you may have been hard-pushed to work out what was going on.
It starts by noting how both you and I have made contact and that you have requested for the balance to be written off, but ‘this hasn’t been agreed’.
There then follows a wholly unnecessary paragraph defending Co-op Bank’s stance. Finally, you are told that the balance will be written off.
The Co-op Bank has taken this point on board and feedback has been sent to the team.
You Have Your Say
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some of the best from our report about the fierce debates within communities on where new homes should be built to fix Britain’s housing crisis…
People can’t afford to buy homes because anybody with any money has piled into buy- to-let, forcing up house prices.
If interest rates were at a decent level, so you could get a return on your cash from a bank, there would be more houses for sale.
P. V., Maidenhead, Berks.
The term ‘green belt’ is now meaningless: it is not protected from development. So many previously beautiful places have been concreted over for horrible new-builds.
M. D., Shrops.
It irritates me how NIMBYs [Not In My Back Yard] are characterised as selfish, with an ‘I’m all right, Jack’ attitude.
But NIMBYs are not objecting to development per se. What they object to is development en masse, with soulless, low-quality, cheap houses crammed into a field with no consideration given to the existing community.
A. G., Exeter.
An area such as this should be protected, not decimated. Once it’s gone, it’s lost for ever.
S. Q., Manchester.
People assume they have a God-given right to own their own home. They want it all — somewhere to live and beautiful views. You can’t have both.
S. B., Dundee.
Many towns have run-down centres, full of charity shops, betting shops and takeaways. We need to be developing these places into affordable housing and think about building up, rather than out.
D. D., Chorley, Lancs.
I suspect that if we looked closely at who lives where, we’d find the ‘Yimbys’ [Yes In My Back Yard] don’t actually live adjacent to proposed developments and are thus ‘Yiybys’ (Yes In Your Back Yard).
T. L., Winchester, Hants.
In December, I switched my energy supplier from Avro Energy. An adviser said I was owed more than £200, which would be refunded when the meter readings had been finalised.
I was told this should take around three weeks but, due to the Christmas holiday period, it may not happen until the end of January.
On February 19, I was advised my refund of £202.52 was due to be made by close of business that day. Nothing happened.
On March 5, I phoned for the third time and, once again, the refund was confirmed. I then sent an email, to which I’ve had no response.
I am 85 and could do without this high-handed treatment.
Mrs D. M., Spalding, Lincs.
Avro finally made your refund on March 14 — approximately three months after you left it.
A spokesman said the delay was caused because you cancelled your direct debit, which meant it could not be processed automatically.
Once this happens, it either has to do a manual money transfer to your account or a cheque must be issued. It has called you to apologise.
As I’ve said before, it is sensible to leave a direct debit open when switching supplier, to allow any rebate to be paid promptly.
However, I don’t feel that your initial complaint was dealt with as well as it could have been. Nor was the rebate paid in anything like the good practice guidelines laid down by the industry.
The Energy Switch Guarantee, an agreement signed up to by 23 companies, says that you should receive any credit from your old energy account within 14 days of your final bill.
Notably, Avro Energy is not signed up to this and its terms and conditions make no mention of how quickly any money owed to customers will be repaid.
Straight To The Point
I needed to change my flight back from Bali due to a family emergency. But Norwegian booked my ticket for the wrong date, then refused to change it again until it had investigated what went wrong.
Every time I called, it promised to ring me back, but never did. In the end, I gave up and paid £699 to travel with another airline.
This was on top of the £250 I’d paid Norwegian to change my flight in the first place, so now I’m £949 out of pocket.
E. H., Coventry.
Norwegian has apologised for the inconvenience and agreed to refund you for the flight change fee and the tickets you purchased from the other airline.
A spokesman says: ‘Our customer care team is on hand 24 hours a day to provide timely assistance to customers, but on this rare occasion, several errors were made.
We acknowledge her rebooking should have been made for the correct date in the first instance and then immediately resolved.’
I read in Money Mail that the average two-year fixed mortgage deal has risen from 2.21 per cent to 2.48 per cent, and repayments on a £150,000 loan have increased from £7,812 to £8,064 a year.
Yet 2.21 per cent of £150,000 is only £3,315 and 2.48 per cent is £3,720. Why are the actual repayments so much higher?
J. S., Warrington, Cheshire.
You are calculating only the interest on the mortgage.
Most people have a repayment mortgage, where they also pay back some of the original loan each month.
This means they will be debt-free by the end of the term. A useful calculator for working out mortgage repayments is at landc.co.uk/calculators
I am interested in investing directly in the Vanguard LifeStrategy 60 per cent Equity Fund. What is their telephone number?
R. B., Bath.
Call Vanguard on 0800 587 0460 and it will advise you on how to apply.
My Part-time employment ceased on June 30 last year. My tax code was then wrongly altered in August.
I contacted HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the adviser quickly rectified the mistake.
Standard Life, which pays my pension, made a bigger-than-usual payment of £125.75 in September, then began deducting 50 pc tax on subsequent payments.
It suggested I contact HMRC, but when I spoke to the latter, it confirmed it had sent the correct tax code to Standard Life on August 30.
I believe Standard Life has made a mistake.
S. W., Oxford.
Like many retired people, your tax situation is relatively complex because you have four separate pensions.
When you ceased your part-time job, HMRC actually increased your tax allowance against the Standard Life pension by changing the code from 65L to 279L.
This allowed Standard Life to refund £73.80 tax that you’d already paid, which boosted your September pension to £125.75.
However, after you contacted HMRC, the code reverted to 65L. This meant that, with the refund, you had actually underpaid tax, which was why 50 per cent tax was deducted from your October 2017 to February 2018 payments.
There’s another complication. Tax codes can either operate on a cumulative basis over a year or on a month-by-month basis.
Yours had been operating over the year, hence the adjustments when you had apparently paid too much or too little tax.
However, on February 12, HMRC wrote to you to apologise for the incorrect tax codes.
So, from March 1, you were then moved to a monthly basis for calculating your tax, which meant that your pension moved to the original payment of £51.95 without any tax being deducted.
I am assured by Standard Life that your pension is now correct and HMRC has confirmed to you that it will review your tax liability from the beginning of this tax year.