Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

A question of money: What you need to close a surplus credit card account

Question: To improve my credit status I have been advised to close unused credit card accounts, and reduce the spending limits on live card accounts.

I am trying to close an old Santander credit card account, but this is proving absolutely impossible. My account is actually £4.53 in credit, but has not been used for years.

I have phoned Santander several times, usually holding for 10 to 20 minutes because the lines are so busy.

Santander told me I had to go to a branch with two forms of proof of identity, and then it would close my account.

When I went to my branch, I was told the staff had not heard of this procedure.

I refused to leave until they spoke to head office: after 30 minutes all had apparently been resolved. But another account statement arrived, still showing the account as open and with a credit balance.

I phoned Santander, who told me it could not close the account until I spent the credit balance of £4.53. But I have previously cut the card in two and do not have a record of the security number.

Answer: Santander says: "Unfortunately, an administrative error led to the card being blocked, instead of closed, which caused the delay." It has now arranged with you to donate the credit balance to a charity of your choice - World Vision. It has also sent you a goodwill payment of £40 to apologise.

Question: I have a current account with Santander and use its Premium Banking phone line.

Using this line, I closed my existing ISA in December 2009, and transferred the balance to a new ISA, paying a higher rate of interest.

As before, I mandated £60 per month to be transferred from my current account into my new ISA.

Since then, £60 has been taken from my current account, but returned to it with nothing going into my ISA. So I am neither saving nor earning any interest. I have repeatedly requested Santander to sort out this glitch.

Answer: The terms and conditions of the ISA you opened specify that you are not permitted to pay into the account by standing order.

But Santander accepts that it failed to explain this to you when you set up the standing order.

In our opinion, Santander should also have noticed this on all the other occasions that you subsequently contacted the bank seeking to resolve the matter. Santander apologises and has credited your ISA with £55, which more than covers your lost interest. However, you will have to find another means of making payments.

Question: I opened an account with Halifax 15 years ago. I recently read that Halifax has a children's savings account paying 6% for regular savers.

I was asked to contact my local branch with documents, including a birth certificate of my six-year-old son.

But when I visited the branch I was told that I had to provide the "long" birth certificate, showing his mother and father's name, or my son's passport.

I explained that the passport does not show the parents' name and Halifax's letter did not say it needed the long certificate. But the bank's employee refused to process the application.

I sent a letter of complaint to the branch, but it is now more than eight weeks after doing so, and I have not had a reply.

My son is very keen to have his own passbook and keeps asking if it has been delivered.

Answer: Halifax says that the shortened version of the birth certificate should have been accepted by the branch.

A member of staff misunderstood the bank's requirements - the branch manager and staff have been given clarification of Halifax's procedures to avoid the situation recurring. A payment of £50 is being credited to your current account as an apology.

Question: I subscribed to Virgin Media broadband, but the broadband never worked. I want a refund of the line rental and installation costs.

Answer: Virgin concludes that you used the wrong details. On this basis, they decline to refund the installation or broadband rental fee. It is sending you £10: the amount you overpaid your account.

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