ASK TONY: HSBC put the cat among the pigeons after closing our account

I am secretary of my local pigeon racing club and our account has been closed by HSBC without reason.

The bank asked for additional information for ‘know your customer’ compliance, which I supplied at our local branch.

It has now sent a cheque for the £1,473.10 we had in our account. But the cheque is made out to the same account so we cannot cash it, and I am unable to open a new one under that title.

Bird brained: HSBC closed the bank account of a pigeon racing club for no apparent reason then sent a cheque for the balance made out to the same account

This leaves us unable to pay our fees to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. I wrote to HSBC but have not had a reply.

A. D., Waterlooville, Hants.

Tony Hazell replies: I received a response from HSBC in which it mentioned the need for ‘know your customer’ checks to prevent financial crime. 

But it didn’t explain why a pigeon racing club with £1,400 assets should have its account closed, especially after you visited a branch twice.

It says an initial letter regarding the ‘know your customer’ checks was sent to you on November 28, 2019, plus reminders and an extension to keep the account open until September 20 last year.

The good news is that your cheque has now been reissued and HSBC has arranged for the account to be reopened. The bank is paying you £200 in compensation, too.

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some regarding our article on the energy firms sitting on billions of pounds of customers’ cash: 

The energy firm switching system is broken and, after many years, I have given up. I run two accounts — one for my elderly mother and one for myself. Both providers went bust in December, which caused a lot of stress.

G. F., Portsmouth, Hants.

One firm refused to refund us, even though we were in credit when we switched away. It sent us an unrealistic and huge bill, before threatening us with debt collectors if we questioned it.

T. J., Bolton, Gtr. Manchester.

There should be a law that forbids firms from taking more than what they charge you for the energy used that month. It would prevent large credits accumulating in accounts.

D. C., Torquay, Devon.

It really hacks me off when firms hike and lower monthly direct debit payments. 

Some of us would rather have a healthy amount of credit building up over the summer — rather than have our payments cut and then increased by £50 later on.

G. T., Lincolnshire.

Paying in is easy, but when it comes to getting your money back the whole process seems to be designed to frustrate you. Never give up if a firm owes you money — it’s how they win.

C. S., Kent.

I pay £105 a month but my energy firm wants me to increase this. I appreciate that it’s been cold lately, but surely it should be able to forecast for summer and lower your payments.

G. D., via email.

I went to Ofgem to get my refund. It took a while, but the provider was forced to pay me the money it owed as well as compensation. It seemed to run its business by sitting on customers’ cash.

M. G., London.


Speaking clock talked grandmother out of £107 

My 87-year-old grandmother has advanced Alzheimer’s and I am her only next of kin. I visit her almost daily, do her shopping and deal with all of her finances.

She has taken to ringing the 123 number (the speaking clock) many times each day.

Last year, she rang it 330 times, even though her telephone is no more than 12 in away from a normal clock. Last month alone she rang the number more than 100 times.

I have asked Virgin Media, her landline provider, to block these calls or release her from the contract.

Last year they cost her £107 —nearly equivalent to a week of her pension.

R. W., Caterham, Surrey.


Tony Hazell replies: What a wonderful granddaughter you are. Those who have relatives with Alzheimer’s will understand the extreme pain of watching someone you love fading, while having to cope with their obsessive behaviours.

Virgin Media at first appeared to respond well when I highlighted your plight, and refunded the £192.77 your grandmother had spent on the calls.

The firm also added a premium-rate call-barring service free of charge, and applied a month’s worth of services at no extra cost. But then you told me that your grandmother was still able to call 123, and the company said it could not block this number.

When you requested that the contract be cancelled, Virgin Media initially demanded a £200 disconnection fee, but a more senior person agreed to you giving a month’s notice instead.

Meanwhile, your grandmother could still make these 123 calls. So I went back to Virgin, which agreed to refund any 123 call charges your grandmother incurs until the account is closed.

Now for the good news. I asked BT if it could help. You told me a ‘charming lady from customer service’ called you to arrange a transfer to BT, which will block the 123 number.

She also provided you with her direct line and email address in case of problems. Now that’s what I call service.

BT can come in for a lot of criticism, but on this occasion it wins all the accolades.

Straight to the point 

Every time I try to pay for a Just Eat takeaway order with a debit or credit card, my payment fails. 

My Barclaycard was compromised in March 2020, but I have not used it on the app since. Why won’t Just Eat let me order a pizza with another card?

J. M., Hackney, London.

Just Eat blocked your card payments, but now says this was a mistake and has corrected it. It’s also given you £25 credit on the app.


My mother passed away in August last year. I sent the electricity meter reading to her provider, Bulb, and was told I would be paid more than £100 which was owed in credit.

But I have yet to receive anything other than two emails asking how well I think the firm did when it came to handling my request.

R. T., via email.

Bulb has apologised and admitted it didn’t handle this well. It says it owed £131 in credit on your late mother’s account, but has doubled this by way of an apology. 

It has also paid back an extra £60 because of the delay.


I ordered a Samsung fitness watch through a student website. It was meant to come with a free gift of Galaxy Buds Live wireless earphones, but these failed to arrive and I’ve been chasing Samsung since February.

L. O., via email.

Samsung says the buds were not correctly added to your basket, voiding the promotion, but admits you did not receive the best customer service. 

It has now given you a replacement code so you can get the buds.


My husband bought me a £70 mobile phone from Carphone Warehouse in March last year, but the charging cradle didn’t work and I wasn’t happy with it. 

The store he visited closed permanently a week later, so I wrote to the retailer to request a refund. It has ignored all of my letters.

L. H., Salisbury, Wilts.

Carphone Warehouse apologised for the delay in resolving this. It has refunded you and given you £20 as a goodwill gesture.

Son’s missing £250 Child Trust Fund cheque

My son was born in 2002 and received a Child Trust Fund cheque for £250.

We are an Army family and were posted to Germany, so I never had the opportunity to cash the cheque. I recall receiving a letter which said the money was automatically put in an account with RBS.

Last week, a friend dropped off old mail from nearly 15 years ago, which had been left in the post room at the camp in Germany. This included some information about the Child Trust Fund money.

Could you find out what became of his cash and bank account?

A. R., Co. Waterford.

Tony Hazell replies: I received your letter in November last year. As you know, this has involved quite a bit of detective work, but diligent RBS staff have finally found your son’s account. So well done to them.

Now we come to the next hurdle. Although the account matches your son’s date of birth and is linked to the barracks address in Germany, RBS requires his National Insurance number.

However, your son left the UK with you when he was 12 so did not receive his NI number ahead of his 16th birthday.

RBS has supplied a number for him to call so he can discuss how to gain access to his money.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.