I have an account with Halifax in Chesterfield. My niece registered Power of Attorney (POA) over my financial affairs in April. She needed a debit card as she was taking care of my shopping during the first lockdown.
All subsequent correspondence and papers were issued in the name of J. Jones, which is neither her nor my name. When a debit card was eventually issued, it was incorrectly under the title ‘Mrs’.
A new card was sent, but then my card stopped working. When I visited the branch, I was assured this had been fixed, but a trip to the supermarket proved otherwise.
Card crisis: A reader has struggled to get her local Halifax branch to provide her niece with a debit card so she could help out with the shopping during lockdown
I was issued with a new card, but then my niece’s would not work. She was sent a fresh card but no PIN. She was told the old PIN would work, but it did not.
I have now made several trips to the bank to try to resolve this. Each one means a 20-mile round trip and costly parking. Staff have said that two people can have a card for the same account, so what is the difficulty?
Mrs E. A., Alfreton, Derbys.
The ageing population means more of us are likely to need support with our financial affairs, or have to help older relatives. Yet when it comes to dealing with POA, banks can prove particularly inept.
As someone with POA myself, I find account application forms baffling, as it is always unclear whose name is meant to go where.
Then, as you have discovered, banks can bungle something as straightforward as issuing an extra debit card.
You have health issues and should have been shielding, but Halifax’s incompetence meant you were forced to travel to the branch. The POA was registered rightly, but branch staff ordered the debit cards incorrectly.
I understand the branch manager has now spoken to you to apologise. A payment of £162.40 has also been made to compensate for the distress and inconvenience caused and to cover the costs of your visits.
Halifax has also asked the branch manager to make sure staff receive relevant additional training to prevent this mistake from happening again.
Straight to the point
When I left my flat last year, I paid a £300 bill to British Gas. But, in January, it refunded me £335.
In May, it told me I owed £115, which I paid. In August, I received a bill for £383, and then a letter from a debt collector saying I owed £411. I paid, but have complained.
A. D., Stoke, Staffs.
British Gas has refunded you £279 and apologises for the delay. It says the revised bills were due to a dispute with the new occupier over the final meter reading and a problem with the meter readings supplied by you.
I was charged twice for the repair of my cooker by Domestic & General, totalling £239.98. I was told to call the maker Hotpoint, but it said there was no record of a repair.
C. S., Southport, Merseyside.
Domestic & General says it has refunded you and offered compensation as a goodwill gesture. It apologises for the inconvenience, which was caused by system errors.
Between 2016 and 2019, my Premium Bond numbers won 25 times (around six times a year).
How can it be that I have not won once this year? Is there a chance my numbers have been omitted from the monthly draw?
M. H., by email.
NS&I says bond numbers are not actually entered into ERNIE, its electronic random number indicator equipment.
Instead, numbers are generated randomly then matched against eligible bond numbers. So it is impossible your bonds were missed out.
The Government’s Actuary Department also carries out an independent check each month to ensure the draw is random.
My car, a Honda CR-V, had a visit from a rodent during lockdown, which made lunch out of a loop in the engine. My insurer, NFU Mutual, arranged for the car to be taken to a repair garage in June.
Honda initially said the part needed would be available in August, but now it is saying January to March. It will not say why it is taking this long.
NFU and the garage have spoken to Honda’s complaints department. My insurer has been great but Honda, in my mind, has been a disgrace.
A. L., Weston-super-Mare.
Hang on a minute. I understand your frustration, especially if you have not had the response you were hoping for. But to call Honda a disgrace is stretching it. A rat ate through something. That’s not Honda’s fault.
As a result, your car needs a new wiring loom which is not available off the shelf. This part is not perishable or in demand.
Honda apologises, but says the part is being made and will be shipped to the UK. The pandemic has affected both the factory and the supply chain.
Honda provided you with a hire car for a month as a goodwill gesture, and your insurance company kept you mobile before this, from July to September.
There is no one to blame, and it is not fair to take your frustration out on Honda.
We have a family trust, set up when my father died almost 20 years ago.
The ultimate beneficiaries are his children, including me, though our mother could receive income. Each year, the trust has to pay capital gains tax.
We are wondering whether the tax must be paid from the trust, or whether it could be paid by a third party — in this case my mother.
P. N., Hemel Hempstead, Herts.
The trust was set up according to the provisions of your late father’s will with £250,000, equivalent to the inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band.
At this time, IHT allowances could not be transferred between spouses. The trust protects the money from IHT.
HMRC says the tax can be paid by anyone who wishes to pay it, but it would count as a gift, which could have IHT implications for the estate of the person who pays it.
But if your mother were to survive for seven years after making a gift, the money would have passed out of her estate. In many ways, there is little to lose if she wishes to do this, especially if the bulk of her estate is due to pass to you and your siblings.
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