Is Abbey/Santander in difficulties? If not, why will it not release our money?
Some ten years ago, my husband and I each invested in ISAs in The Abbey National in Swansea.
In 2004, we were notified that they were about to mature. Unfortunately, we were living on our boat in Spain at that time (this fact in itself is rather ironic since Abbey was later taken over by Banco Santander with whom we had a bank account).
We telephoned Abbey in Swansea and asked for the money to be paid into our accounts at HSBC, giving full details of the sort codes and account numbers.
We were informed that we were not allowed to have the money (OUR MONEY) paid into another bank, or sent to us as a cheque, and it would have to be re-invested in Abbey.
After many frustrating phone calls (mobile phone calls from abroad do not come cheap) we were informed that both sets of money had been re-invested in ISAs with the Abbey and would have to remain in there for five years !
Well…..here we are five years on.
We are back in Wales. The ISAs both matured on January 23rd this year. On January 5th we both tried by telephone to arrange for the money to be transferred into our accounts at HSBC.
At this point, had this been an Ingmar Bergman film, a cloud would have moved across the face of a full moon to symbolise trouble ahead…..The letter they sent us gave the wrong telephone number!
When we eventually found the correct number, we were told we had to make an appointment with the ‘Investments Manager’ in order to decide which kind of Abbey account the money should go into. Nothing would persuade the person at the end of the phone that this was OUR money and we wished to do with it whatever we pleased, and did not want to waste an hour speaking to their representative when we did not wish to re-invest in their bank.
We were told we would each have to make a personal visit to the bank taking with us a recent bank statement from the bank into which we were trying to transfer the money (OUR money, remember).
They could not understand my reluctance to show them a statement from HSBC. Frankly, it is in my opinion, none of their damned business!
However, as a way of getting our money, we reluctantly decided to play their silly games and duly went into Swansea, paid a hefty fee to park the car, went into the Abbey office where we were told that we could not proceed without an appointment…yes, you’ve guessed it…. with their Investments Manager.
Eventually we were allowed to see the Branch Manager who completed two forms himself for us, in order to release our money as soon as the ISAs matured a fortnight later. Again, we were told that they were not allowed to write two cheques for us, and the money could only be transferred to another bank after we had allowed them to photocopy our current bank statements from HSBC.
Well, the maturity happenned and we waited….and waited….and waited.
Many telephone calls later, it was established that both amounts of money would be paid into their allotted accounts by close of business on February 9th. To our surprise (?) it was not. A further telephone call established that both transfers would be made the following day.
Two days later, on February 11th, I checked my statement and found that my money had been released at long last. Stupidly however, I assumed that both transfers would have been made, since they were for identical amounts and had been supervised personally by the manager at the same time.
Today, twenty seven days after the ISA matured, my husband still has not received his money, despite many telephone calls to many different members of staff. We have been passed from pillar to post incessantly.
On occasions we have repeatedly been told that we had “pressed the wrong option button, this is 3, you should have pressed 4″…. but like the original wrong telephone number, there wasn’t one! (After several tries somebody clearly rectified this and the right list of options appeared.)
We shall be putting in a demand for compensation for all the phone calls (thank goodness for itemised telephone bills) when (if) we ever do receive payment.
Finally today, we spoke with the ‘PEP & ISA Customer Relations Manager’ in Glasgow and were told that ‘the computer had made a mistake’.
Yes, in true Little Britain fashion, “Comptuter Says No…..”
But… and this is where I blew my top….. she told us that all is to be resolved this afternoon
“….. somebody is going to physically walk down the road today to the Glasgow branch of the HSBC and pay in a cheque”….. made out to my husband’s account at HSBC.
So why could that not have happened five years and twenty seven days ago?
I wonder how many other people are trying to rescue their own money from the clutches of Abbey Santander?