A retired couple planning to buy a home in Cornwall were left waiting in desperation for ten days after their life savings went missing during a routine payment.
Brian Dover, 78, and his wife Carolyn, 74, were planning to move back home to Cornwall from Canada and had secured a home in which to settle.
They set up a transfer to move their funds, $466,000 Canadian dollars – or £275,000 – to Britain to buy the property.
But eight days after the house purchase was supposed to go through, the money had still not arrived in the UK account, leaving their plans in tatters.
As well as the distress, the couple say the delay cost them more than £16,000.
Tough time: Carolyn and Brian Dover, pictured, were left in limbo after cash went missing – and put their house purchase on ice
The pair had to stay with friends while they lived under the incredible stress of fearing their money had disappeared.
In the meantime, they had to put their shipping container of furniture on hold because they were unable to move into their new home and also had to worry about their pets – a large dog and a cat who were too becoming distressed by the upheaval.
Mr and Mrs Dover had been living in Canada since 2013, but soon discovered the winters in the North American country were too harsh for them.
They decided to move back to the West Country – where they had lived between 1999 and 2013.
Mr Dover contacted This is Money some eight days after the house purchase was meant to go through, when he still could not find out where the money had gone.
The payment was coming from their TD Canada Trust account, which uses Barclays in the UK for these types of transactions.
It then should have been converted into sterling by money transfer firm SATFX. Mr and Mrs Dover use SATFX rather than their own bank to secure a better conversion rate on their Canadian dollars.
SATFX uses Metro Bank for its accounts – and this is the part of the transaction which was problematic. The money from Barclays didn’t arrive to be converted and then used to buy the home on time.
Barclays headache: The pair received a far worse conversation rate on their Canadian dollars after the payment was delayed by nearly two weeks
The payment should have been quick and straightforward.
But after days of waiting, the money never showed. The pair found it difficult to get answers from Barclays, as they don’t bank directly with the high street giant.
We contacted Barclays with all of the payment references needed to trace the funds, including the IBAN number.
This International Bank Account Number is an internationally agreed system of identifying bank accounts across national borders.
The next morning, after This is Money stepped in, the money arrived and the pair finally purchased their property.
Mr Dover said: ‘Barclays managed to destroy our joy at returning to the place we love. One phone call from you and a miracle the funds cleared the very next day.
Back in Cornwall: The pair have now moved in – along with their pets, including Baily
‘I would like to thank This is Money so much for your intervention with Barclays to retrieve our Canadian funds that this bank decided to hold up for whatever their reasons for ten days.
‘When we contacted you we were both at our wits end, not knowing who or where to turn too, to resolve our major problem.’
A Barclays spokesman said: ‘The payment had been sent and received by Metro but it was rejected as the IBAN details of the ultimate beneficiary account was not included in the instruction.
‘This meant Metro were unable to forward the payment. I’ve not be able to establish if this error was generated by the sending bank.
‘However, that said, when it was returned it seems that the appropriate action to resolve the issue was not taken, and a swift opportunity to resolve the matter was missed.’
Barclays offered the pair £200 as a goodwill gesture – but they turned it down.
Mr Dover says they have been left vastly out of pocket for two reasons – the extra expense caused by the delay of the house purchase and a worsening exchange rate in the time it took for the payment to go through.
Renting a cottage, along with extra legal costs and interest paid to the seller for late completion has left them nearly £900 down.
Furthermore, the exchange rate on September 11 would have got them roughly £292,500.
When the money did finally arrive on 20 September, the $466,345 turned into a far smaller £275,944 – as confirmed by the FX firm in letters seen by This is Money.
This is a gap of more than £16,000.
Additionally, the pair say they have been in touch with their bank manager in Canada, but it says it has not had any communication from Barclays.
Mrs Dover claims that a complaint handler at Barclays accepted it was to blame for the hold-up and that initially it had attempted to forward the cash to Metro in good time, but due to an error it was only finally received 12 days later, when This is Money stepped in.
Barclays doubled the compensation offer to £400 – but the couple have taken it to the Financial Ombudsman Service, believing this redress offer is not acceptable.
The pair said they began planning for the move back in January.
They added: ‘Things have now calmed down and we completed the property transaction, albeit eleven days late.
‘We are getting our lives back on track, although we had thought we had planned so meticulously for every eventuality, it’s worrying how big banks play fast and loose with peoples’ lives and money with no thought for the problems they create.
‘What makes us so totally angry is that the dates and exchange rates I was working on have all proved correct only for some incompetent fool at Barclays to screw the whole thing up.’
We will report back at a later date to reveal the decision from the FOS.
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