ASK TONY: Mystery of the lost £80k in shares as Santander blames 'systems error' for losing retired couple's savings
I'm a financial adviser, whose clients - a retired couple - have suffered extremely poor service from Santander.
In early 2016, the wife held about £160,000 of shares in a Santander unit trust. In order to make use of her husband's unused capital gains tax allowance, she planned to transfer about half of her holding to him.
Santander reduced her holding but failed to complete the transfer, meaning about £80,000 of savings went missing.
Sloppy: Santander promised a letter of apology and an offer of compensation after losing £80,000 in shares, but neither materialised
I have called weekly since April but Santander refused to correct the mistake immediately. It blamed a systems error and was unable to provide a timescale for resolution. I felt its treatment of my clients was inhumane.
At the end of May, we were told the systems issue had been fixed and that the missing £80,000 would be transferred into a new investment account in the husband's name.
We were also promised a letter of apology and an offer of compensation. So far we have had neither. D. V., by email.
I am regularly baffled by the insensitivity of people who work in banks. How can they fail to realise that their decisions and actions can have an immense impact on their customers' lives?
The £80,000 going missing might have been a trivial 'systems error' to staff, but it was a terrifying experience for pensioners who probably wondered if they would ever see their money again.
I think it goes without saying that they would have suffered sleepless nights thanks to the dozy behaviour of Santander's investment department.
Santander had a duty to keep both you and your clients informed and to rectify the situation as a matter of urgency. A fulsome apology and appropriate compensation should have followed.
Santander now admits there was a series of silly errors that was compounded because nobody took responsibility for resolving the problem. The word 'manana' seems to fit the approach.
Finally, someone from the bank has written to apologise.
They admit the time taken to fix the issue was 'longer than the time we would consider reasonable'.
They have also apologised for failing to keep you and your clients informed - with the consequence that you had to spend significant time and effort trying to gather updates.
The good news is that your clients' financial position is now correct, as far as the investments are concerned, and they have not suffered any loss here.
However, Santander's mistakes have landed your clients with an unwelcome tax bill. So it's promised to make good any extra tax your clients have had to pay and added £500 compensation.
It has also promised to reimburse your clients for any costs you have incurred and charged to them.
It's been a long struggle, but I hope things are now sorted out to your and your clients' satisfaction.
YOU HAVE YOUR SAY - FIGHTING COUNTY COURT ORDERS
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories.
Here's what you had to say about our guide on how to fight county court judgments and keep your record clean:
It sounds like it's possible for anyone with an axe to grind to ruin another person's credit very easily. I think it's a very unfair system.
M. G., Oxford.
Once a debt company or CCJ (county court judgment) is involved, I find it almost impossible to get my credit history put right.
It doesn't matter if you are in the right, because there are no penalties that can be used against the firms if they do not remove the incorrect information.
You can contact the financial ombudsman, who will send letters on your behalf if they think you have a case, but this takes for ever.
L. N., Leeds.
What happened to the old practice of sending out court documents by recorded delivery? Then there's no room at all for people to say they knew nothing about them.
R. H., London.
My best tip is to set up mail redirection with the Post Office before you move house.
This means any post sent to your old address is forwarded to your new one. You won't miss any documents sent out.
A. D., by email.
How can you be responsible for someone else's debts? These are crazy rules that need to be changed now.
L. D., Kent.
The large majority of the CCJ's are applied for by companies who have bought old debts for peanuts and then cherry-pick the ones they want to collect.
W. E., London.
You can take a private action against whoever has applied for the CCJ if they have done so negligently, and sue them for damages.
However, it's going to cost you money and judges tend to focus on the actual monetary loss to you, which is difficult to prove if you have been turned down for a loan or mortgage.
M. K., London.
My daughter had the same thing happen to her and the company who applied for the CCJ had bought the debt from a mobile phone company.
She had no idea she owed anything until the CCJ.
W. T., Bournemouth.
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
My wife and I booked to go on a Mediterranean cruise, but she was later diagnosed with a blood clot, so we had to cancel.
We had travel insurance but when we tried to claim, our insurer, Insurance with, said we hadn't purchased cruise extension cover, and now I'm £3,299 out of pocket. R. D., by email.
Insurancewith is updating its website to make it clearer to customers that they must purchase an add-on if they are going on a cruise.
It's listened to your call and admits you did mention the cruise. It now says it will pay your claim, less the £49.25 you should have paid for cruise extension cover and a £400 excess - so £2,849. Insurance with apologises for any stress and inconvenience.
I read in Money Mail that the average pensioner's income is now £297 a week. I receive only £163 in state pension. J. A., Suffolk.
The figures, from the Department for Work and Pensions, include private and state pensions.
Your £163-a-week state pension is made up of the basic £119.30, plus a state second pension top-up. But you don't have a private pension - that's why you're short of the average.
A man called me trying to sell a £5,000 diamond. To get him off the phone, I agreed for him to send the paperwork, but I had no intention of buying.
I returned it unsigned with a letter explaining I wasn't interested. Now the firm is threatening to sue me for breach of contract. Please help. I. H., Isle of Man.
It's always best to decline any offers made in unexpected phone calls - they could be scams.
For this one I asked Jan Carton, of Citizens Advice, who says: 'It's usually up to the seller to prove that you agreed to buy something.
If you don't think you agreed to buy anything, write to the seller to ask for proof of the agreement.' For more help, contact Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.
A driver crashed into my car and drove off. I paid to repair the damage, but later received a letter from a claims firm saying the accident was my fault.
They contacted my insurer, Axa, which paid out even though the driver had no licence or insurance. How can I find him and make him pay for my repairs? J. S., Huddersfield.
Axa has looked again carefully at your case. It says the driver crashed into your car after you failed to give way at a slip road joining a main road.
It assures me the driver had a licence and insurance. It cannot give out their details, but says you have instructed a solicitor.