SALLY SORTS IT: Virgin Money lost £15,000 I needed for cancer surgery

As a result of a long NHS waiting list locally, I found it necessary to pay privately for prostate cancer surgery. The hospital requested I pay by card over the phone.

I decided to use my Virgin Money credit card but as the bill was over the card’s spending limit, I transferred £15,000 from my Virgin Money savings account to cover it. However, the funds did not appear in the credit card account.

When I chased this up, I was told it takes two working days for funds to clear.

Vanishing cash: A reader was left without vital funds to pay for his cancer surgery after he tried to move them from her Virgin savings account

I explained that by the time it did, it would be the day of my operation and therefore too late. The call handler was sympathetic and agreed to reverse the transaction but this never happened.

I ended up having to pay for my surgery by other means. After I was discharged from hospital, I checked my accounts. The £15,000 had not been returned to my savings account, nor had it ever appeared in my credit card account.

I spent more than an hour trying to speak to someone at Virgin Money to find out where it had gone. I eventually discovered it was in a ‘suspense account’, but all call handlers I spoke to were unable to retrieve it and said they would need to raise the matter internally.

On March 4, I waited for more than an hour on the phone to be told there was nothing the operator could do, but it would be raised as a complaint and responded to within 20 working days! Can you help?

C.J., Bromsgrove, Worcs.

Sally Hamilton replies: I am sorry to hear about your illness. But I am also frustrated you have been shunted from one type of waiting list to another when trying to retrieve your £15,000 from the ether.

It is beyond belief that it can take seconds to send money to a destination but weeks if it needs to be returned. The routine business of a bank is the holding and transferring of money, so I would have thought this would be a simple issue to resolve.

I got in touch with Virgin Money to find out what had gone wrong and to ask it to return your savings. I am pleased to say that it managed to locate and send back your money that same day.

Scam Watch 

Beware of cold calls from fraudsters claiming your national insurance number has been compromised.

You will typically receive an automated message asking you to press ‘1’ or return the call urgently.

In reality, the crooks will then try to convince you to share your personal details.

They may say they need your information in order to make a correction and threaten you with fines if you refuse. But no government organisation would do this.

It had indeed ended up in a suspense account, where banks hold money that has gone astray internally until its proper destination is confirmed.

It seems it landed there due to an error over the destination account. On your list of payees linked to your savings account you have two credit cards — your Virgin Money card and details of an old one. 

When you made your payment, you mistakenly selected the old card, which as it is out of date, could not be credited.

The money was therefore diverted to the holding account. It seems odd that this error was not spotted instantly and rectified.

Instead, you were led down the garden path with Virgin Money suggesting erroneously the cause was probably a two-day delay for a card account to be credited.

But all’s well that ends well. Virgin Money not only returned your money but sent a goodwill payment of £200, plus interest — and delivered a hamper of goodies to help with your recovery. 

The firm has explained how to cancel old payee details to prevent this being repeated. A Virgin spokesman says: ‘We’re sorry we didn’t resolve this more quickly when the customer contacted us.’

You are pleased with the resolution and you will be making a donation to the Mail Force Ukraine appeal from your goodwill payment. Thank you, and get well soon.

Straight to the point 

I read in Money Mail that new card rules require online shoppers to input a code to verify payments. I don’t have a mobile and my landline has a Call Guardian system which will not accept automated messages.

A.L., via email.

Tesco Bank sends passcodes from a fixed phone number, which you can add to a ‘white list’ in your Call Guardian account. 

For help, call the bank on 0345 300 4278. 


Marks & Spencer’s digital Sparks scheme reeks of age discrimination as you need a smartphone to access offers. What about the loyal customers who don’t have one?

R.L., Wadhurst, East Sussex.

M&S admits Sparks was relaunched in July 2020 as a ‘digital first’ scheme, but insists you do not need a smartphone to benefit. 

You can access it on your computer with your card or ask instore staff to check for offers.


I was in a car accident which resulted in £1,500 worth of damage to my vehicle. I’ve been trying to get my claim processed by Saga and Axa but I’m getting nowhere.

G.L., via email.

You initially thought it was a one-vehicle incident but it has become apparent multiple cars were involved. 

Axa says this led to some delays. Your car has since been repaired and Axa has compensated you for the delay.


I ordered two wedding dresses from Australia for £395. I used DHL’s quote service to check how much I’d pay in tax and it came to £40. Yet I was charged almost £198.

H.S., London.

When I saw the invoice, the DHL charge was only around £11. The rest is VAT and duty, which is determined by the retailer.

I offered to contact the store on your behalf to check if it had used the correct custom codes but you said you would do this yourself.


Hermes won’t pay me for three weeks work 

Can you help persuade Hermes (which recently changed its name to Evri) to pay me for work I did as a courier for the firm from December 6-23, 2021.

I was working out of depots in Ipswich and Stowmarket. I used my own car and petrol but ceased working for the company, because of wear and tear on my classic Mercedes car and what I saw as being a total lack of proper management.

It was my understanding that wages would be paid towards the end of the month but I received nothing, despite several visits to discuss the situation with managers.

No one seems to have proper records of my shifts, so I suggested Hermes makes me a reasonable ex-gratia payment. But nothing has happened.

I don’t think any company should ignore one of their couriers in such a way. The job was particularly arduous during December, as you can imagine, not least because I am 80 years of age.

Please take up my case.

G P, Suffolk.

Sally Hamilton replies: Anyone who’s seen the current TV advert for Evri will know it features a jolly courier making rounds in all weathers, with a spring in his step and a smile on his face.

This is part of the company’s mission to ‘create positive and reliable delivery experiences for everyone everywhere’ (according to admen that devised the campaign). It badly needed a makeover.

In a poll of delivery firms by Citizens Advice last year, the company in its Hermes days scored the worst, with 1.5 stars out of five. To be fair, none scored highly.

You have not been feeling at all jolly, after failing to receive a penny for your hard work despite serious efforts to obtain your wages.

I asked Evri to hand over pay you have been owed for three months. After a few days of investigating, the local Evri office contacted you and admitted you should have been paid. Its excuse was it did not have your bank details. You handed these over.

Last week you told me you had been finally been credited with the £117 owed.

Better late than never, but that is faint praise for a delivery firm.

  • We love hearing from our loyal readers, so ask that during this challenging time you write to us by email where possible, as we will not pick up letters sent to our postal address as regularly as usual. You can write to: Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It [new column name to be confirmed Tuesday], Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email – 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