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.
Mystery: RBS looked in the wrong place but finally the £2,000 was returned
Ms L.S. writes: I sent £2,000 from my Lloyds account to an account at the Royal Bank of Scotland, but I mistyped one digit of the RBS sort code.
I realised this the next day and informed Lloyds, and after I contacted the Ombudsman, Lloyds tried to recover my money. However, RBS responded months later, saying the RBS account had been closed since 2015 so it had returned the money to Lloyds.
Despite this, Lloyds says my money is still with RBS. We need this money badly.
Tony Hetherington replies: The original mistake was yours, and Lloyds Bank did query the sort code and account number when you made the transfer, but you have spent months since then, trying without success to find out where your £2,000 went. Your own bank, Lloyds, has even paid you £50 twice, after accepting that on two occasions it did not move quickly enough on your behalf, and the Ombudsman approved these payments.
The major stumbling block all along has been RBS’s insistence that you sent your money to an account which no longer existed, so I asked officials at NatWest Group – RBS’s parent company – to take another look at this.
They came back to me with an answer that was just as puzzling, saying they had found a £2,000 payment from you on the date in question, but it had gone through without a hitch.
Meanwhile, adding to an increasingly confused picture, your own bank had been contacted by Yorkshire Water, asking Lloyds to explain an unexpected £2,000 that had popped up in the water company’s account.
This made even less sense when NatWest Group told me the £2,000 had gone to a personal account and not a business account.
And whatever happened to the suggestion that the money had gone to a dead account that was closed in 2015 and that it had been returned to Lloyds?
When I discussed this with you, things became a little clearer. The £2,000 was to help your daughter whose central heating boiler had failed. When the first £2,000 vanished into the banking system, rather than let her down, you paid all over again.
What NatWest Group had found and reported to me was your second payment; the first £2,000 was still missing. And then, out of the blue, Yorkshire Water re-entered the picture and returned the missing £2,000 to your account at Lloyds.
It had been sitting in the water company’s NatWest Group holding account, not allocated to any of its customers because, of course, it had only gone there by accident.
NatWest Group and RBS had been looking in the wrong place, concentrating on the £2,000 that you had successfully transferred, and not on the initial £2,000 that had gone to Yorkshire Water whose account was one digit different.
Reliance on sort codes and account numbers is clearly helpful to the banks, but bad experiences like yours show that making a single slip is as easy as mis-dialling a phone number – but a lot more expensive and far harder to put right.
Why is Halifax refusing to accept my shares?
B.H. writes: I have been using Halifax Share Dealing for over 20 years. I read with interest about Primarybid’s service, and I applied successfully for shares in Draper Esprit plc.
However, Primarybid then told me that Halifax refused to accept the shares into my portfolio.
The Halifax website says nothing about why it would reject shares acquired via Primarybid, so I rang and after 90 minutes in a queue, Halifax simply told me that its dealer did not want to deal with them.
Refusal: The Halifax website says nothing about why it would reject shares acquired via Primarybid, but our reader was told the shares would not be accepted into their portfolio
Tony Hetherington replies: Primarybid is a useful service that allows ordinary investors access to Initial Public Offerings, rather than those IPOs being the privileged province of the big financial institutions.
You used it to apply successfully for shares in Draper Esprit (recently renamed Molten Ventures), a venture capital firm that invests in technology companies. Normally, your shares would be passed to your broker, but Halifax Share Dealing would not accept them.
Staff there tell me that this was not because Halifax has a blanket ban on shares bought through Primarybid. The problem was with Draper Esprit itself.
Halifax’s share dealing arm is intended for ordinary investors to trade in shares that are easily and freely bought and sold.
But when Halifax looked at Draper Esprit’s own paperwork, it warned that typical investors were expected to be experienced traders, institutions, investors with professional advisers, or people wealthy enough to risk a complete loss.
Since Halifax was never intended for this, I cannot criticise its decision. You have reached the same conclusion and have told me you have now switched to a different broker that will accept your shares.
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 protected] 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.
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