How To Claim Charges Back From RBS

RBS Money missing from you bank account, missed mortgage payments and black marks on your credit score… the RBS ‘cashless card machine’ fiasco hurt a lot of people. Here’s a simple guide for claiming at least some of your money back.

Contents:

Reasons for the RBS meltdown

Gather all information

Pick Up A Compensation Form

What compensation can you expect?

Has your credit rating been hurt?

What if creditors refuse to amend your credit file?

Leaving RBS

Reasons Behind The RBS Implosion

IT was at the heart of the RBS problems. You know: the technologies that are supposted to make our lives simpler?

Apparently, a low grade IT worker in an outsourced Indian technology company released untested code into the banks computer systems. A short while later, everything went horribly wrong.

Needless to say, but I think that RBS may well be reviewing their IT supplier contract.

More importantly, you want to know how to get your money back.

Gather All Relevant Details

Before you start a claim you need to know how much this mess has cost you.

Here are a few of the more obvious things to look for:

  • Interest for going overdrawn
  • Fines for missed payments – especially on your mortgage as this can affect your credit score
  • The cost all telephone calls you’ve made to the bank and other parties involved e.g. many small business owners have spent an awful lot of time on the phone trying calm down irate suppliers who want to be paid

Also make a note of any inconveniences you may have suffered as a result of not being able to access your money. Think about things such as not being able to get to work because you have no money for fuel. Maybe you’ve been unable to pay for your children’s school lunches. Write it all down.

Pick Up A Compensation Form

You have a few options here.

You can visit your local branch and pick up a form… along with the thousands of other disgruntled customers.

You can call one the following three numbers and request a claim form: 08457 77 77 66; 0161 931 9959; or 0800 656 9639. Ironically, the first two numbers are billable so make sure you add in the costs of using them when you complete your claim.

Finally, you can go to the RBS website and download a form. Going on recent events I don’t think anyone can guarantee the site will be working!

If you’re having problems or RBS don’t provide a satisfactory resolution using the means above then pay your local branch a visit and make a complaint. RBS have up to 8 weeks to come up with a resolution.

If you find the above methods don’t work or that RBS is dragging it’s feet then it’s time to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Alternatively, you can call them on 0800 023 4567

Interest point: currently, there is no legislation in place to cover banks actions in an event such as the one the RBS has experienced. Don’t let that get you down: the banking group will have a dedicated ‘clean up crew’ working hard to make sure they limit the damage and retain as many customers as possible. Keep pushing for compensation.


Has Your House Purchase Fallen Through?

Buying a house is a big deal. Being outbid on your dream home is bad enough but when a banks computer system quite literally ‘says no’ it can be a heart rending experience. In fact, you may not even be a customer of the bank to caught up in this mess. If you’re in a chain of buyers and one of them is an RBS customer and they can’t access their accounts you face the possibility of the chain collapsing.

As yet, the banking group has provided no indication as to whether they will compensate anyone indirectly affected by the failure of their online banking system.

What Compensation Can You Expect?

At the height of the crisis, NatWest, RBS and the Bank of Ulster kept branches open to ensure customers could withdraw money. Each customer could take out a maximum of £300. In addition, holders of one of the groups credit cards are allowed to go over their credit limit by £100 without incurring any interest. Interest payments were also deferred until July 2012.

The bank has promised that it will automatically refund any charges or credit card penalties that customers have received due to the failure of their systems. This is why you need to keep a close on all the charges: if the bank doesn’t know about them they won’t pay up.

Has Your Credit Rating Been Hurt?

If you own a home, have a bank account or any kind of card then you have a credit file. Basically, it’s a way of letting companies and money lenders know how reliable you are at paying for stuff. The credit file is used a basis to decide if you get a loan, mortgage, credit card, etc and also affects the interest rate that lenders will give you.

Thanks to the mess at RBS, many account holders have missed payments on everything from car loans to mortgages. When you miss a payment to a creditor a black mark goes on your credit file and affects you overall credit score.

Ideally, customers caught in this trap should have the mess cleaned up by RBS. To their credit, the bank has said that they are working with credit agencies to ensure that customers who have missed payments will not be penalised.

For you own peace of mind, run a basic credit check on yourself. Using companies such as Experian, Equifax and CallCredit will cost you £2 for a report on the health of your credit file. RBS have said they will refund the cost of all credit checks but, if you run your own check, keep a record of the cost and make sure the bank pays it back.

If you find a mark against your name and RBS haven’t cleaned up the fallout then you’ll need to push hard. Only the company that puts a black mark against your credit file can remove it. This means that you may need to go to them directly and explain why you’re payment was missed. Make sure you take some proof of why your payment was late.

What If My Creditor Refuses To Remove The Black Mark?

Don’t panic! There’s probably not a money lender in the world that doesn’t know about the RBS meltdown. Most, if not all, will be sympathetic but if they will not remove a late payment you have another course of action. It’s called a Notice of Correction.

A NoC is simply a statement that you can add to your credit record that reflects the reasons for the late payment/black mark.

Is It Time To Leave RBS?

The online banking fiasco has left many customers with an understandably bitter taste in their mouth. Spurred on by a slow response and a lack of communication on the banks part, many customers have said they will be closing their RBS accounts.

If you’re one of the many getting ready to move to a safer, more understanding bank you’ll be glad to hear that times have changed. Until recently, moving your account was a painful process. Countless pieces of paperwork needed to filled out and you were obliged to notify all your creditors. On top of this, you then had to move all of your direct debits and standing orders.

Those days are long gone. All you need to do now is choose the bank you want to move to, fill out an application form and let your new account holders know which payments you want moved. They’re even obliged to pay for any charges you incur during the process.


4 Theories Behind The RBS Cashless Card Machine Fiasco

stephen hester

Hooray, RBS and Natwest have launched their new cardless cash machine apps for smartphones. Boo, you can’t deposit or withdraw any money from you account. Conspiracy or circumstance?

Here a few wild ideas bouncing round the web right now.

Moody’s Downgrade Blues

If you don’t already know, Moody’s, the credit rating agency, downgraded a number of banks. RBS had their credit rating slapped down a notch although Natwest got away unscathed. Like the eye of Sauron scouring the land in search of victims, the bank shut up shop for a few days and used your money to prop up their punch drunk balance sheet.

Likelihood? Not very likely. Even though their credit rating has taken it a dip it doesn’t stop trading. Money still needs to circulate through the system and the possibility of a ratings downgrade simply isn’t enough to make the Hester and co. pull the plug on your account.

Cardless Cash Machines Blow A Fuse

One of the wilder theories doing the rounds is that the recent launch of cardless cash machine services caused a huge surge in online banking. Power supplies were overloaded and the fuses simply went pop. Goodnight cardless cash and goodnight online banking. Apparently, the body of a fried technical support team member will have to be cleared (with a dustpan and brush) before normal services can be resumed.

Likelihood? We have a better chance of the United Kingdom winning the Eurovision song contest. First off, any decent company has a massive resilience plan in place. Ecommerce and banking systems have multiple data centres. If one dies, the second seamlessly takes over (unless thieves, who thought they were stealing copper cables, manage to cut fibre optic links). I’d like to add that no techies were harmed during the creation of this piece of content!

Stephen Hester Has A Strop

Just recently, Stephen Hester, the head of RBS, gave up his near £1,000,000 bonus. Whilst some share holders applauded his decision, many were of the opinion that this move was designed purely to quell a potential revolt rather than based on pragmatism. In revenge, Hester walked over the to plug socket marked “Emergency Use Only: Operate Only When Having A Very Bad Bonus Day” and flicked the switch. This theory brings to mind images of David Walliams whose computer liked, to say ‘no’.

Likelihood? No chance. We all have bad days. We all lose money from time to time (although most of us would love to be in a position to misplace a million quid down the back of the sofa) but it simply isn’t feasible. The idea that the man at the top has a kill switch for your bank accounts is, well, a little bit silly. Besides, Hester will probably get a nice pay off with his golden handshake.

Rogue Coder Injects Nasty Bug Into The System

Malicious code is everywhere. How times have you received a warning when you’ve attempted to access a website containing malware? How many times have you been warned not to look at those scantily clad cheerleaders on the web? It’s goes without saying that you’d never expect to find malware on a banks website but mistakes can be made when coding complex systems.

The idea of a rogue coder using a system to steal accidentally collect your data isn’t the preserve of Google. Back in 2011, customers of Tesco Bank who used Internet Explored 9 were locked out of their accounts. The problem? Some really flaky coding that probably wasn’t tested with ALL of the major browsers of the time before it was set free onto the wild, wild web.

The RBS Ship Needed A Quick Injection Of Cash


To date, the RBS group has received around £37 billion pounds of tax payers cash. Although George Osborne has stated that another £140 billion will be made available to get the banks lending again the money won’t be in their pockets any time soon. Cue a highly suspicious ‘system failure’ that allows RBS to make a £73 billion profit from by trading the money it’s customers money.

It might seem incredibly far fetched but this one might just have some legs. RBS group has cash assets of £82 billion but has about £476 billion in loans on its books. It seems that, when you boil the figures down, the whole 5 day mess has, potentially, made RBS a nice fat £73 billion profit. I’m not going to delve into the precise maths but there’s more detail to be found in this article about the RBS/Ulster glitch.

Update

Since I first put fingers to keyboard it would appear that the source of the RBS banking groups woes have been identified. Steven Hester has stated the problems stem from the release of untested computer code into the banks IT systems. Way to go RBS.

If you work in IT keep your eyes open; you might just see an opening for a new IT director advertised very soon.


How To Reclaim Bank Charges

Just because the High Courts ruled that the Financial Ombudsman couldn’t assess bank charges for fairness it doesn’t mean you can’t get some money back

Die piggy die

Did the banks kill your piggy?

So far, over a billions pounds have been paid back to bank customers who were unfairly charged for ‘misdemeanours’ such as being overdrawn. The OFT put up a good fight in the name of banking customers but, ultimately, the high courts decided to rule in favour of the banks. So where does that leave you?

You’ll probably be quite surprised to learn that it is still possible to claim some money back from champagne charlies banks. A word of caution: don’t EXPECT to get any money back. The banks are under no obligation to give you anything but it’s worth a try.

Unfair Bank Charges: The Background

Over the years, many Britons have been subjected to some incredibly unjust bank charges. Going overdrawn, having a failed direct debit or watching a cheque bounce down the street like a lunatic on a space hopper have resulted in charges of up to £40. Now, if that’s not a rip off then I don’t know what is.

Sadly, many bank customers started to see the fines as almost a part of everyday life. But not everyone was happy to simply bend over and take what the banks had to offer. Complaints to the Banking Code Standards Board rocketed. The main causes of ire were the spiralling interest rates and exorbitant charges.

The hardest hit were low income earners with relatively small amounts of savings. Banks charged £20 for sending a letter to tell you that your account was in arrears (Duh! Thanks but you probably knew that already). On top of this you were then slapped with an additional charge for being overdrawn.

At this point, I’d like to add that most of the banks have been bailed out by the tax payers of this country. Talk about having a monopoly!

Let’s Take A Look At How To Claim Back Bank Charges

If you’re facing financial hardship or you can prove that the charges levied against you are excessive then you have a chance of getting the Financial Ombudsman involved. If this happens, or it looks likely to happen, you’ll have a better chance kicking some arse and getting some money back.

Are You Eligible To Claim?

The Ombudsman has made a statement concerning your eligibility to make a claim. Basically, if you’ve been treated either unfairly or harshly then you are more likely to have your claim looked at. The Ombudsman will look at your case even if you’re no longer in debt but were struggling at the time the charges were imposed.

Do you fit into any of the following categories?:

Financial Hardship

Being broke is no fun whatsoever. What’s worse is when, in effect, you’re being fined for being broke! Fortunately, most of the banks shot themselves in the foot by signing up for the Lending Code.

This code states that all customers must be treated fairly and with consideration for their personal circumstances.

If you meet one or more of the statements below then you have a good chance to making a successful claim:

You can’t pay for the basics e.g. food, gas bills, electricity bills, mortgage, etc

You can no longer service your existing debts such as outstanding credit card payments and loans.

You bank balance is severely impacted by the charges you’ve been hit with.

Income drop – this has to be quite significant.

The Charges Are Unfair

If you’ve gone into the red by a few pounds and then been hit by a whopping £35 charge then you may have a case. Disproportionate charges are unfair at the best but if you’re also having financial troubles then could well get the backing of the Ombudsman.

Are You Stuck In Cycle of Debt and Charges?

This is the reverse of a debt snowball. Instead of slowing paying off your outstanding loans and credit you’re finances are feeding ever higher interest payments and penalty charges. If you’re in this situation you stand a higher chance of getting the Ombudsman to back your case.

How To Claim Back The Charges

Getting your money back from the banks is not quite as straightforward as issuing them with a strongly worded letter (you only have to see how many times the United Nations tried this trick to know this won’t work).So, before rush out to your bank and start demanding money back from them there are a few things you need to do.

Look For Excessive Charges

By excessive I mean disproportionate charges you’ve been hit with. Take my earlier example of being overdrawn by a few pounds. Did you get hit with a fee for going overdrawn? Did a letter arrive the next telling you that your account was overdrawn AND that you’re were being charged an extra £20 for the ‘pleasure’ of receiving the letter? Now that’s disproportionate!

Going a step further, look for large, daily fines you might have been hit with. Again, if they massively at odds with the level of your ‘crime’ then make a note of it.

Write Down What You Think You Are Owed

Time to get your calculator out and start sifting through all your old banks statements. Look for anything that you consider excessive.

Now, if you’re like me, then you probably don’t keep your bank statements for more than a few months. This shouldn’t be a problem. If you have internet banking you can easily download and print off all your statements. Alternatively, you can import them into one of these free budgeting applications and search for the charges your bank has applied.

If you don’t have internet banking you’ll need to ask your bank for a list of the charges they’ve applied to your account. Make sure you ask for details of:

  • The amount
  • The date your account was charged
  • The reason for the penalty

Send the request for information in a letter (ideally, send it guaranteed delivery and email your bank a copy as well). The bank then has 40 days in which to reply. If you haven’t heard anything in a couple of weeks give them a call. Whatever you do, don’t let them try to give you the brush off.

By law, the bank is obliged to supply you with this information but they can charge you a nominal fee of £10.

Note: if you need to request printed copies of your charges make sure you quote the Data Protection Act in your letter. If you don’t the bank may try to charge you a higher fee for the paperwork.

Note: Make sure you ask for a list of charges NOT statements otherwise the bank will charge for every statement they send. Here’s a quick sum: £10 per statement, 12 statements per year = £120!

Claiming Back Your Bank Charges

Once you have all the information, simply write a letter and ask for the money back. If you need any help trying to work out what needs to go into your letter there are two claims templates a here (first letter) and here (second letter). Fill in all the relevant sections of the template then post it.

Make sure you give details of how the charges have hurt your finances.

After a few days, give your bank a call and make sure the letter arrived.

Keep a record of all conversations and letters. Note the date, time and name of the person that dealt with your enquiries.

Wait For The Banks Reply

The bank should respond within two weeks. There are a number of options on the table:

Full Refund

If you’re lucky or you have a truly compelling case the bank will offer you a full refund of all charges. If your claim is relatively small and you have a good case for making the refund request you have a good chance of getting all your money back.

Partial Refund

In most cases, claimants have been offered partial refunds (the average being 6 months worth of charges). This is the offer you’re most likely to receive. It’s up to you to decide wether to accept, decline or start haggling like a seasoned market trader.

If you accept then take your money and run. If you’re not sure you can start haggling e.g. you thinkg you’re owed £1,000. The bank offers you £200. If that’s not enough make them an offer that’s will keep both camps happy. Offering to settle for £500 might be enough to get them to agree.

Your Claim Is Rejected

The banks have a nasty habit of automatically rejecting claims no matter how reasonable they may be.

DO NOT GIVE UP! They may have said no but when has that ever stopped you? Write a new letter telling the bank that you’re are going direct to the Ombudsman but offer them the chance to settle without going down this route.

If you think your case is strong and the bank still refuses to play ball it’s time to…

Write To The Ombudsman

If it comes to this then you have to emphasise the point that you’re contesting the fairness of the charges. The Ombudsman’s office will reject ‘templated’ claims so write a letter of complaint by filling in this form on FOS site.

To avoid have your claim rejected o. As with any attempt to reclaim bank charges, you will have a far better chance of getting money back if you’ve suffered from financial hardship as a result.

What Information Should You Put In The Complaint Form?

Everything that’s relevant to your case but make it personal – not Rambo vs bad cop personal – and highlight any hardship you may have suffered as a result of the charges. Be honest and include all the facts but don’t go over the top as the Ombudsman isn’t interested in your great love affair that went sour – they want the facts.

The Financial Ombudsman Service will then send you a letter confirming that they are looking into your case. If they need more information they will contact you.

What If The Ombudsman Says No?

Unless you have balls of steel then it really is the final curtain for your claim. There is no appealing the Ombudsman’s decision – ‘the man from FOS, he say no’. If you’re adamant that the bank have shafted you (and who isn’t?) then your next stop will be the courts.

If you go down the path of court action then, in the words of the great Baden Powell, ‘be prepared’. You may have to pay money to take this course of action and you’ll need to be prepared to do a lot of research and argue you case.

One final point about the British legal system: it’s slower than a tortoise going for an amble through the park. In some instances, cases have taken a couple of years just to get through the system and in front of a judge!

Reclaiming Bank Charges Q&A

I’ve listed some more information on what, exactly, you can claim back below:

What charges can be reclaimed?

Before you start down the claims path you need to make sure that you’re asking to have only certain charges reimbursed. Only fees that are excessive and go above and beyond your agreed charges should be claimed i.e. unfair overdraft fees, charges for cheques that bounce or being penalised for going over your overdraft limit.

You can’t claim back fees that are an agreed part of you account.

Can You Claim Back Charges On A Closed Account?

Yes, you can. Even if your account has been closed for a number of years, you can attempt to reclaim any excessive charges on that account. By law, the financial organisations are required to retain your personal account details for years so you should have no trouble getting a list of charges from them.

Can I Make More Than One Claim?

Yes but, in every case, you will need to go through the same process as I’ve detailed above.

How Far Back Can I Claim?

You can request a repayment of charges that go back years. Be prepared to show, across all the years you claim for, that your finances were in poor shape. We all go through highs and lows but it’s the low’s you need to concentrate on as you’re most likely to get a refund on the times when your finances were at a low ebb.

To be honest, it would seem that most claimants have found that they receive some not all of their claims.
Once you realise there’s a problem you

Technically the Ombudsman can only help with claims within three years of when you realised there was a problem, so if you’ve been waiting, claim now.

Can You Charge Interest On Claim?

If your case goes to court and you win, yes you can. In the current legal climate, you are entitled to add 8% interest (flat rate). Adding a request for this additional interest when you first make your claim is the wisest course of action (even though you’re not actually entitled to it unless you win a court case against your bank).

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to say but your best bet for avoiding charges is to keep your finances in tip-top condition. The less you rely on the banks to finance your lifestyles through their overdrafts the less likely you are to be hit with punitive charges.

As Dame Shirley Bassey once sang, “It’s all just a little bit of history repeating…”.


Finding the Best Bank Account

On the hunt for the best bank account?

Hmm, before we launch into this we need to understand the phrase “best bank account” – it means something different to everyone searching – so let’s make a start…

What sort of bank account is right for you?

Lets’s face it, we all have different spending habits and this is usually shown in our bank balance – some of us are always in credit, some of us are constantly overdrawn (I’ve just put my hand up!) and the offers that banks put on the table usually take these factors into consideration. The competition for bringing in new customers, and keeping them, is fierce. Look at this way; have you recently told your bank that you’re moving your account to a competitor? If so, you’ll no doubt have had a barrage of info such as why it’s best to stay with your existing bank, more options that can save you money, explanations of why your new bank is ‘evil’… the list goes on. (When I say ‘evil’, I mean that you’re current bank will paint themselves as a shining example of how a bank works compared to their competition.) The bottom line: it’s never easy making a decision.

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