SALLY SORTS IT: HSBC error cost our social club £6,000

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I was secretary of the Cheltenham Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (Grand Lodge of England) Club And Institute from about 2005 until it was closed in May 2014.

It was essentially a social and networking club and we held events to raise money for charities.

A special meeting of all 46 ordinary members was held where it was decided, due to cash problems, to close the club and sell the building and furniture to pay creditors and redundancies and share the proceeds between members.

Delays: An error by HSBC left members of a social club waiting months to get their money back after it was forced to close

During the closure, we contacted our bank, HSBC, to change the account address to mine as the building the club occupied was to be demolished.

In June 2021, I received a letter from HSBC addressed to the club informing us that following a review it owes us £3,361.77 plus compensatory interest of £2,869.83 — a total of £6,231.60. 

In January this year, I went into the local branch to sort out how this sum could be paid. I was given a phone number to call but I couldn’t get through.

I tried to get help to resolve this dilemma for several months until, finally, I was told that the cheque must be made out to the social club, which no longer exists.

It was suggested I open a new account in the club’s name online. I encountered many difficulties, including answering a question on how many staff the club would have and what its turnover would be, so I stopped. It seems I cannot open an account without lying.

No one in HSBC will help me. I would gladly forget all about it but if I did and the members found out, I do not know what they would say. And anyway, with the cost of living pressures, I am sure some of them would appreciate their share. It’s driving me crazy.

C. S., Cheltenham.

Sally Hamilton replies: A bank error in your favour is desirable in the game of Monopoly. But in your case, it has become a bureaucratic nightmare.

You were forced to embark upon a tricky game of getting hold of the money owed by HSBC and then dividing it between 46 members — or in some cases, their loved ones, as you discovered 11 have sadly passed away.

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This headache all came about because between 2005 and 2020, HSBC applied incorrect charges to its community current accounts.

I asked HSBC what could be done. Initially it asked you to arrange a meeting of as many surviving ex-members as could be mustered, where it could be agreed you could receive the money — with the minutes forwarded to the bank. The bank suggested this could done by Zoom.

But you rightly said this was not feasible. Instead, you put together a letter and arranged for it to be signed by five surviving members, all attesting to your honesty as the long-standing secretary of the club and agreeing for you to receive the compensation for distribution. Unbelievably, the bank told you this was not enough.

I stepped in again and said I felt you had gone above and beyond to get this problem solved.

Eventually, the bank accepted the signed note and paid you the money. You then requested a cheque book so you could deal out the 45 payments of £135.

When it arrived, you found it contained just 25 cheques, so you had to send off for another.

You said you would include a letter with each cheque explaining the background to the recipients, including the loved-ones of the members who had passed away.

I congratulate you on your endeavours, though I suspect much of your own share of the distribution has been gobbled up in phone and stamp bills.

An HSBC UK spokesman said: ‘We are sorry C.S. and the Cheltenham RAOB Club faced difficulty accessing a refund from the bank.

‘When an organisation that is due a refund does not have an open account to accept payment, we require legal evidence that the residual assets of that organisation can be transferred elsewhere.

‘Following C.S. providing us with sufficient evidence, we have now paid the money into his account.’

Can’t get my lump sum after deferring pension 

Up until early this year, I chose to defer my state pension for a period that amounted to more than 12.5 years.

In January, I contacted the Department for Work and Pensions to arrange finally taking my weekly state pension and collecting the deferred lump sum.

I have successfully received the pension, but have not heard about my lump sum.

A pension forecast two years ago suggested I would receive £78,000 before tax. I have passed all the necessary security checks and phoned the DWP on a weekly basis but cannot get any answers and promised call-backs never materialise.

I desperately need this money now, due to some financial difficulties as well as struggling with day-to-day rising costs, including energy bills.

S. F., Tarbert.

Sally Hamilton replies: When you reached state retirement age more than a dozen years ago, you were in the fortunate position not to require the state pension, as you had income from an NHS pension and your husband was also earning. However, you told me that more recently your situation has changed.

You sadly lost your husband four years ago and you now live with your daughter. Money is tight and you, like so many others, are facing sky-high electricity bills, the latest being £2,000. You decided it was time to claim your state pension.

After sending off a number of emails, it seemed to you that your inquiries were falling on deaf ears, so I stepped in to find out what had happened to your lump sum.

This prompted action from the deferral team, which soon afterwards contacted you to say the money was finally on its way.

Even better news was that it amounts to £89,000 before tax. The net amount of £71,500 will soon be in your account.

A spokesman for the DWP says: ‘We apologise for the delay in finalising S.F.’s claim. We have now issued her lump sum and have spoken with her to confirm this.’

You told me that you are delighted and thanked me for my involvement.

Straight to the point 

My mum recently died and my father was very upset to receive a letter from her annuity provider LV= demanding he repay £60.70 the day after her funeral. The firm even got his name wrong.

It seems very insensitive to send this out so soon after he lost his wife of 66 years.

G. S., London.

A spokesman for the firm says it is contractually entitled to request the overpayment’s return but apologises the letter was incorrectly addressed and for any distress caused by its timing. 

LV= has waived the £60.70 repayment and paid £100 in compensation.

*** 

My son bought a £160 pair of trainers he’d seen on Instagram for his 18th birthday. 

He paid by bank transfer but, despite the money leaving his account, the seller claimed it had not received the money.

It is clear he fell victim to a scam but his bank, Monzo, has refused a refund.

G. C., London.

A Monzo spokesman says it upholds its decision not to repay the money because the customer did not take reasonable steps to verify the transaction and ignored scam warnings. 

Your son’s next option is to complain to the Financial Ombudsman.

*** 

I had to cancel a trip to America in April as I was diagnosed with an intracranial aneurysm and advised not to travel.

I made a travel insurance claim and Admiral said it would contact me within 30 days. It has been four months and I still have not heard back.

J. E., Oxfordshire.

An Admiral spokesman apologises for the delay and says it had not received the documents needed to validate the claim. 

The firm has now paid the full £669.50 claim along with an additional £84 goodwill payment.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email [email protected] — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given. 

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