Last Thursday, as we were fast approaching another long weekend, I decided to check over my bank account, using the usually very efficient online service provided by Lloyds TSB.
I knew it was in good health but wanted to make sure my wages had gone in before I made plans for any purchases over the Bank Holidays. My account was showing as overdrawn. How could this be? Quickly, I clicked on the link to print a statement.
That very morning nearly £700 had been paid to Direct Line Insurance. Why? How? Yes, my previous home insurance policy was with them but this year their quote was way too high & I insured with Churchill this time. I had paid on my debit card last year and, as my card had been cloned & I’d got new details, didn’t feel I needed a phone call to Direct Line in which I’d be paying for them to try & change my mind about going elsewhere.
Also, the renewal letter was a month ago & at no time had Direct Line contacted me for my new card details so I assumed they’d got the message.
I took a closer look at the statement & it showed the last 4 digits of my *new* card. Again, how could this be? I double checked the Direct Line letter thinking I must be going mad (on Twitter I call it #over40brainfade) but, no, there in black & white were the last 4 digits of my *old* card.
Comforted in the knowledge my faculties were in fine fettle for once I telephoned Lloyds Bank & explained how annoyed I was that an unauthorised payment had left my account sending me overdrawn which they would no doubt be charging me for.
I got told that a “dispute notice” would be attached to my details so that when the matter was resolved I could more easily claim these charges back, although I’m sure she mumbled that raising a dispute in the first place costs me £5. Ridiculous.
After several minutes of umming and ahhing I got put through to the hallowed disputes department only to be told that it’s nothing to do with them, it’s at Visa’s discretion whether a payment gets made when someone uses obsolete card details. Apparently, if they have *some* of the number right, Visa can decide whether to give them *my* money or not!
As I said in my letter of complaint that’s an apalling policy and one which is not mentioned in any of my small print.
I also asked them why they can’t use sadly lacking common sense and check with the account holder if there’s a discrepancy, especially as one look at my account will show them that if a large payment is due I transfer funds from a savings account in good time for it to leave without being overdrawn.
The girl I spoke to seemed adamant it was a Visa issue not a Lloyds one yet when I asked for Visa’s phone number to complain direct she said I have to write. The address she gave me is for Lloyds! I questioned this and she said all complaints go through them. Bizarre.
I’ve banked with Lloyds since I was 7 years old (this may or may not have been swung by the fact they were the only bank with a young saver account featuring a black horse!) but in the last few years their service has got steadily worse.
Given that a few years ago my debit card was cloned and a considerable amount of funds were taken, wouldn’t you have thought they could have told me earlier this year they suspected it had happened again instead of just stopping my card without notice causing embarrassent?! They can easily find my phone number when they want to sell me ISAs and the like, but not when it’s vital information!
Anyway, back to the matter in hand and I called Direct Line, explained that they shouldn’t have been able to take that payment and that I was in dispute discussions with the bank. They were actually brilliant and promised to refund me though it would take 7-10 days as they had to effectively cancel my policy & produce more paperwork. Of course, they asked me to reconsider my other renewal first but I said I’ll offer them chance to quote next year when, as a new customer again, I’ll no doubt get a bargain price. Loyalty gets you nothing these days!
My worry is that Direct Line insist on refunding to the card details they hold for you. I can see this all going wrong. Which is why, as I had time today, I checked myself for Visa contact details.
No UK address but there is an e-mail form should I need it. And, also this statement in their FAQs which made me think the girl at Lloyds just wanted to pass the buck:
How can I dispute a charge on my Visa Card?
Visa banks issue cards and are responsible for all billing and account management issues. Visa has no access to or jurisdiction over accounts. Accounts are confidential and proprietary information between the bank and the cardholder. Please address your questions about your Visa account directly to the bank that issued your Visa card. You can contact them directly, using the address or telephone number on your Visa statement or on the back of the card.
Are all the banks as bad as each other at being responsible for our money or have I just had a run of bad luck?