ASK TONY: Santander won’t let my deaf mother pay bills without a mobile phone

ASK TONY: Santander won’t let my deaf mother pay her bills unless she buys a mobile phone

My mother has an account with Santander. She doesn’t want to set up direct debits, so I help her to pay bills using her debit card.

Recently a payment was declined. I telephoned Santander, which said it needed my mother’s mobile phone number so it could send her an authorisation code.

She doesn’t have a mobile, and is extremely deaf and suffers from very bad arthritis in her hands, so is unable to work, or hear on, one.

Santander is insisting an elderly customer buys a mobile phone to authorise her account despite the fact she is deaf and suffers from arthritis so is unable to work one or hear with one

I asked if a code could be sent to my mobile if the bank spoke to my mother and she gave it permission to use my number. I was told the code had to be sent to a mobile registered in my mother’s name.

Now, whenever I try to pay for anything online for her using her card, it is declined. For now I am paying her bills with my card then drawing the money out from a cashpoint using her card. and paying it back into my account.

This is difficult at times as I work in a busy hospital so can’t always get to a bank. My bank now only opens three days a week, too.

S. H., Chesterfield, Derbys.

Tony Hazell replies: Welcome to 21st-century banking, where everyone is expected to have a mobile and branches only open part-time. 

I sympathise with Santander’s need to ensure the security of your mother’s account, but I find this lack of flexibility exasperating. 

Many of us help elderly relatives to manage their money, yet banks often seem to go out of their way to make life difficult.

Insisting that a code be sent to a mobile registered to your mother, when you had explained that she did not have one, was daft and discriminatory. Many people don’t have mobiles, and no bank should run its identification policy exclusively on the basis that everyone has one.

Santander has now given you details about supported banking services, including its Carer’s Card and third-party access, which will help you to support your mother’s banking securely. 

These options should have been explained when you made contact, and Santander has given you £50 to apologise.

Perhaps your mother should allow you to set up direct debits for items such as council tax, house phone and energy bills. 

It would cut down on the extra jobs in your already busy life. The direct debit guarantee means that if a mistake is made then the bank is obliged to sort it out.

RAC took money from dead uncle’s account 

On December 5 last year my 79-year-old uncle passed away with Covid-19. Eight days later, £101 was taken from his bank account for RAC breakdown cover.

I called the RAC and was put through to its bereavement team. 

It explained to me that, as my uncle hadn’t cancelled his membership within the 14-day ‘cooling off’ period, we would only be getting a refund of £34. This included an administration charge.

I said my uncle could not cancel his membership within 14 days as he had already passed away. I was told ‘This is our policy’.

A. K., Dudley, W. Mids.

Tony Hazell replies: Why would any firm treat a bereaved relative of a long-standing customer like this? The answer is that the person you spoke to got it wrong.

RAC instantly apologised when I made contact and has refunded the money, adding a £100 goodwill gesture. A spokesman says: ‘We should have refunded this policy in full and are very sorry for the distress caused to Mr K’s family at such a difficult time.’

Straight to the point 

Last year, I purchased a £79.99 vacuum from Argos but it would not charge. Argos would not give me a refund until lockdown was over. 

But when I visited the store in April I was just given the manufacturer’s number, and nobody answers when I call.

R. L., Lincolnshire.

Argos apologises for the poor service and has arranged a full refund and a £30 gift voucher.


My uncle died without leaving a will. He was in a lot of debt which had been passed on to collectors. 

My family worry that if they get involved they will be hounded to pay what’s owed.

F. T., Brighton.

Someone will have to deal with the debt collectors, but any debts are paid from the estate. 

If there are insufficient assets, they will be paid in order of priority.


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