I’m a British veterinary surgeon living in Antigua. In July, I took advantage of our then green status to visit the UK.
My daughter is in vet school in Canada and, needing to make some extra cash for her tuition fees, I did a locum in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.
All locums now have to be paid through umbrella companies so I contacted one and monies were paid into my HSBC account.
An overseas HSBC customer transferred £7,000 to her daughter in Canada but it never arrived
Being a long term resident in Antigua I had not used my HSBC account for many years, but on entering the UK I went to an HSBC near Gatwick, who identified me from my passport.
However, after I sent £7,000 to my daughter from Scotland in September she didn’t receive it. What has happened? F.F., via email
Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: Initially, when you came to Scotland to work, you were told by HSBC – after it identified you from your passport – you were fine to use your account.
It added it would send a bank card to your father, who lived locally, however, it did not.
While in the remote Isle of Lewis you also tried to set up internet banking and a security code was sent to your father. You were told to call HSBC when it arrived.
When you phoned, the customer service agent said she could not identify you and locked access to your account, telling you to go to your nearest HSBC to verify yourself.
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You explained you were on the Isle of Lewis, there was no HSBC branch close by but she said she could not help any further.
On your return to Antigua from Glasgow via Gatwick, you went to HSBC in Glasgow and were told everything was fine with your online access as it had verified who you were.
Needing to send the money to your daughter for her vet school bills, a wire transfer was set up.
Using your HSBC account, you sent £7,000 to your daughter last month – but the funds had not been received.
The bank has set a trace up after numerous calls. It said it has sent a message to your daughter’s Canadian bank, but adds that it has not received a reply.
You have tried to complain to HSBC but claim all you get in response to your emails are an automated reply directing you to a phone number where you are left on hold to.
This is a large amount of money that had gone ‘missing’ and you are becoming increasingly frustrated.
HSBC apologised for the difficult the customer had and said it will be returning the money
I contacted the bank to find out exactly where the funds were and when your daughter could expect to receive them.
A HSBC UK spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry that Ms F is having difficulty sending money to her daughter. We received the request to process her payment on 20 September 2021 and it was sent the same day, using the details provided.
‘Unfortunately, on 27 October, 37 days later, the Royal Bank of Canada notified us they had rejected the payment due to the account name and number not matching.
‘When those funds are received back from RBOC they will go straight into Ms F’s account.’
It added that as a precaution against fraud, access to an account is restricted if it is not used after a certain amount of time, after providing notice to customers of its intent and providing them time to act on the notice.
As you had not used your account in two years, you had to go through a process to regain access.
Fortunately, you have now received the money back into your account and another £350 in compensation.
However, due to the funds not reaching your daughter, she was charged interest on her late payment for school fees and you also have a huge overseas phone bill to pay.
You also still do not have internet banking available with HSBC and must now find a safe way to send the money to her.
At least now you are aware of the challenges you face with overseas banking when visiting the UK and can hopefully find a way to send payment safely in future without it driving you barking mad.
A British Gas customer was charged hundreds after it got her address wrong by accident
Hit and miss: This week’s naughty and nice list
Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.
Miss: Reader, Verity, was frustrated with energy supplier, British Gas, this week.
She said: ‘Last year I bought a house and moved in on 1 September. It took me a short while to get all the bills set up as I was going through extensive treatment for breast cancer.
‘It was around the end of October when I realised I hadn’t had a gas or electric bill. I looked through the previous owners notes and could see the house had been supplied by Robin Hood energy.
‘I tried contacting them twice to no avail. A Google search then showed they were being purchased by British Gas who I contacted on three occasions. Once I was told there was no supply to the house. The second time I was cut off.
‘The third time I was transferred to a team to set up a new supply. I then tried twice more to contact them at one point waiting to speak to someone for over an hour.
‘Fast forward to this year. It was around March when I had a rather ominous letter from a debt collection firm telling me I had an outstanding bill of £470.83 and that British Gas has sent me the bill and payment reminders on several occasions.
‘This was news to me. I phoned the debt collection company and was told I could pay off the bill in small monthly instalments. I asked for proof of the contact from British Gas as I had received nothing despite my repeated attempts to contact them.
‘Months later, I got a letter from the debt firm attaching proof of British Gas invoice. It said the supply is for my address but has the postal address for a house down the road. Now British Gas is demanding payment in full.’
I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis and know the ongoing saga with British Gas has been adding significant stress to you.
It seemed unfair the energy company was demanding the money in full despite its mistakes so I contacted British Gas which confirmed it had the wrong address for you.
A British Gas spokesperson said: ‘We’re sorry that Ms C’s bill was sent to the wrong address.
‘We’ve been in touch to ensure she has it now and we’ve agreed a plan to spread out her payments, making them more manageable. We’re pleased she is happy with this outcome.’
It added it provided you a good will gesture of £70 and set up a payment plan for the remaining balance of £400.
It has also referred you to the British Gas Energy Trust which is an independent charitable trust that can provide support in the form of grants to those who are struggling with their energy bills.
A Glasses Direct customer praised the firms customer service after it replaced items for free
Hit: In better news, this week, reader Neil, praised his experience with company, Glasses Direct.
He said: ‘I ordered two pairs of reading glasses from Glasses Direct. When they arrived, via Royal Mail, the parcel was open and only one pair was in the package.
‘I challenged the postman and he blamed it on the sorting office and told me to make a complaint and claim.
‘That proved somewhat difficult since I couldn’t get anyone from Royal Mail to answer the phone and the contact details on their website didn’t include any better contact details.
‘As a last resort I contacted Glasses Direct and pointed out the problem. Without any quibble, they ordered me a replacement pair at their own cost.
‘When these arrived, they had used the wrong prescription but, again, when I contacted them, they responded immediately to let me know that another replacement pair had been ordered – again at their own expense.
‘The glasses weren’t expensive so these issues meant they made a clear loss on the transaction and, yes, they made an error with the first replacement, but the point is, everyone makes mistakes – it is how these are rectified which differentiates the good customer service businesses from the bad ones.’
This experience has allowed you to clearly see which firms offer the best customer service.