TONY HETHERINGTON: I asked NS&I for £1,000 from my Guaranteed Growth Bond – and then it sent me £9,860
Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
Ms S.F. writes: I requested a withdrawal of £1,000 from my NS&I Guaranteed Growth Bond, and I received my money less a small penalty. However, I was then surprised to see £9,860 land in my bank account. This was a withdrawal of the rest of my bond, which I never requested. I contacted NS&I and was assured the money would be reinstated, but all I have received is an email confirming my account is closed.
Although NS&I confirmed that your account was closed, your attempts to reopen it dragged on until you received an email reminding you that your bond was about to mature and inviting you to reinvest the non-existent proceeds.
Errors: NS&I made repeated mistakes with Ms F’s withdrawal
I asked officials at NS&I to look into what had gone wrong, and they quickly told me: ‘This was due to human error, and not the level of customer service Ms F should expect from us.
‘We are reinstating her account with no loss of interest.’
Staff would confirm this to you, and offer a goodwill payment as well. This was a good answer, but a fortnight later you had still heard nothing.
Then a letter arrived from NS&I, saying nothing about reinstating your bond, but apologising for delays caused by the pandemic. Not delays in reinstating your investment – but delays in looking into the complaints you had made even before you contacted me.
To complicate things even more, while all this was going on, your bond reached its maturity date. You still had the money sitting in your bank account, so I asked NS&I whether it intended to behave as if the same money was still in the bond, and to pay you interest on it.
Back came the answer – no, your investment had not been reinstated, despite what I had been told weeks earlier.
Finally, NS&I accepted a cheque from you for the return of the money you had never requested.
It reopened your bond, and then closed it. An official wrote to you: ‘I have arranged for an apology payment of £100 to be made as a crossed warrant (like a cheque) which will arrive 5-7 working days from this letter.’ And he added: ‘Your complaint has been upheld.’
Even this was not quite correct, though. When you received the £100, it became clear that this included interest you should have received anyway.
NS&I admitted to me that £44 was interest, so you were not getting £100 as an apology.
This was another mistake by staff, I was told.
With remarkable restraint, you have told me that after having to chase NS&I for months to put right their own mistake, an offer of £56 by way of saying sorry left you ‘disappointed’.
I think I might have used stronger words. You felt you were ‘treated as someone of no consequence’ until you involved The Mail on Sunday, and it is hard to disagree.
Why is Morrisons refusing to take £135 of gift vouchers that it issued?
A.P. writes: After many weeks, I have been unable to get Morrisons to acknowledge gift vouchers that it issued in the first place. Having recently come out of hospital, I cannot face any more of its broken promises to do something about it.
Rejected: The Morrisons gift vouchers were part of a loyalty scheme
You had been trying for about six months to persuade Morrisons that you had a fistful of brightly coloured vouchers with a face value of £135.
Your local store did not seem to know what they were, and simply refused to accept them.
When you contacted the head office of the supermarket chain, your complaints were acknowledged but nobody seemed able to tell you why your vouchers were rejected.
Then you told Morrisons you had contacted me, and two days later you received £150. I am sure this was just a coincidence.
The vouchers were issued as part of a loyalty scheme when Morrisons had its own credit card, operated by HSBC. The scheme ended, but the vouchers have no expiry date so should still have been accepted.
Morrisons told me: ‘We can only apologise for the inconvenience this has caused Mr P.’
If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email email@example.com. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.
Eon’s brutal lack of sympathy
Mrs B.W. writes: My uncle died in a care home. He had previously lived in a house belonging to me, so in closing his various accounts, I wrote to Eon to say he had died. The answer was quick and brutal: Eon opened an account in my name, but at his address, where I did not live and then it demanded more than £300 from me. I tried to explain its mistake, but this just started a barrage of letters, threats and harassment.
Eon opened an account in our reader’s name when she contacted the supplier to inform it of the death of her uncle
After I contacted Eon, staff moved quickly to apologise.
It told me: ‘This was a simple error caused by an adviser misinterpreting the information Mrs W provided. We have now corrected this, are stopping all legal proceedings related to the account, and are removing the mark from Mrs W’s credit file.’
This turned out not to be totally accurate though. When you checked your credit agency file, it still showed you as being in debt to Eon.
The energy supplier then told me that the delay was because it had to provide evidence to the credit agency before your record could be amended.
This is not accurate either. The credit agency itself told me it does not demand evidence.
Eon placed the adverse mark on your file, and it has the power to remove it. This has finally been done.