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SALLY SORTS IT: Nationwide froze mum out of dream move to Mississippi

SALLY SORTS IT: Nationwide froze mum out of dream move to Mississippi

I am writing on behalf of my 82-year-old widowed mother, whose Nationwide bank account has been frozen.

She is currently migrating to live with me in the US. Her visa is approved, her house is listed and her furniture is packed.

In early February, she tried to transfer money from Nationwide’s Lymington branch in Hampshire to her US account, but the bank refused and froze her account.

Grounded: Nationwide froze an elderly customer's bank account just before she was due to leave for a new home in Mississippi

Grounded: Nationwide froze an elderly customer’s bank account just before she was due to leave for a new home in Mississippi

The first thing my mom knew about this was when her card was later declined. She now has no access to her pension and is dependent on family and friends.

I wrote to Nationwide to explain the situation and was told this was being forwarded to the fraud support team.

We were assured that there would be a response within 15 working days, but this deadline has passed.

We have tried to call and email with no response. Please help.

AG, Mississippi.

Sally Hamilton replies: It’s a serious upheaval for anyone having to move from one country to another, but doing so at 82 must be especially stressful.

Your mother had already suffered long delays in sorting out her move due to the pandemic, so you must have both been extremely frustrated to find that her bank account had been blocked at this crucial point.

You tried your best to help her, but Nationwide didn’t give you the answers you needed.

To rub salt in the wound: The pound sterling exchange rate deteriorated after your mom first tried to transfer her money, so she looked at a substantial depreciation of her savings as the weeks went by.

I got in and asked Nationwide to make things right, pronto.

A few days later, it confirmed that the account had been unblocked and a senior customer service representative contacted you to explain and apologize.

scam watch

Fraudsters are taking advantage of the crisis in Ukraine to rob vulnerable victims.

Action Fraud says it has received about 200 fake emails from people claiming to be raising money for those affected by the war.

In one of the Money Mail, scammers impersonated a Ukrainian mother who claimed her husband and son were killed in an explosion. They asked to make donations in bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency.

Fraud expert Charlie Shakeshaft says, “If you’d like to donate to help with the crisis, do your own research, choose a reputable charity you trust, and get in touch right away.”

It seems that the branch staff feared that your mother’s first transfer was a scam, so they blocked the account.

At Nationwide’s request, you provided a copy of your mother’s U.S. bank statement on Feb. 9. Despite several phone calls and emails since then, the restriction has still not been lifted.

I intervened on March 16 and the account was unblocked the next day. The transfer finally took place on March 18, six weeks after the first attempt.

If your mother could have sent the payment on February 9 after you provided the US bank statement, the amount received would have been $355,314. By making the payment on March 18, the money that came into the account was $344,085, a difference of $11,229 – about £8,630.

I’m pleased to say that Nationwide agreed to make up the shortfall and pay your mother £300 as an apology.

A Nationwide spokesperson said: “We take the protection of our members and their money seriously. Our industry was genuinely concerned that our member could be the victim of a scam, so we believe the right decision was made to restrict the account while reviewing the evidence.

“Unfortunately, this took longer than expected, at a time when our member was preparing to get closer to her son.” Now that this hassle is finally over, you can look forward to your mother joining you, her three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren for a new life in Mississippi.

Can’t escape my nightmare with holiday credit cards

I have had a prepaid Escape Travel Card for several years and have used it successfully abroad, at least until I got my new card in 2020.

I tried to use it in Greece last September but it was blocked. Since then I have tried repeatedly to call the company but only get an automatic message.

It seems impossible to talk to a human ‘because of Covid’. I have emailed several times and sent a letter to headquarters but have heard nothing.

I want to cancel the card and get my £500 back that was on it.

CB, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics.

Sally Hamilton replies: When I called Escape Travel Card customer service, I heard the same message you describe, with an apology that Covid meant it had to ‘temporarily’ close its call center, but customers can contact by email.

My appeal was made nearly two years after the pandemic was first announced, so this made me feel like the Covid excuse is just no longer acceptable. I tried emailing, as the phone message assured me that I would only have to wait two days for a response.

A week later, still having heard nothing, I went hunting for a number for its registered office in Gibraltar. Again, I was redirected to an email address.

But I’m happy to say that this email prompted confirmation of my query within a day.

It also urged the company to call you directly with a promise to refund your £500 immediately.

Your card was blocked for using the wrong PIN, but customers should certainly be able to resolve such issues quickly – not struggling for six months to contact the provider.

It appears that the Escape Travel Card has now reached the end of its journey as Tuxedo Money Solutions, the company behind the scheme, sent customers an email two days after your issue was resolved informing them that the card program is on May 24 will be closed.

Customers must redeem their balance before then or email [email protected] for a refund.

Straight to the point

I ordered a folding stool over the phone from Easylife, but it delivered the wrong one. It promised to pick it up on five dates, but each time no one showed up. I still have not received the correct stool.

LA, Wirral.

Easylife has now supplied the right stool. It says a shortage of truck drivers hit its courier company, making it difficult to pick up the wrong order.

Our Whirlpool oven broke down at the end of November, eight months after we bought it and within the warranty period.

We were told there are no spare parts available to fix it and the model is no longer sold in the UK.

PS Warrington.

Despite numerous calls to Whirlpool, you say it seemed unwilling or unable to resolve this issue.

After my intervention, it admitted its mistake and now has an improved model delivered to you.

We paid a £670 deposit for a P&O cruise. In April 2020 we were told to either pay the full amount owed – approximately £4,000 – or cancel our booking and take future cruise credits.

I was not offered a refund and will struggle to use the credit before it expires.

EN, by e-mail.

P&O says there is no expiration date on the credit, so you can use it whenever you want.

I urged her to refund you and – despite the deposit being non-refundable – I agreed as a goodwill gesture.

After signing up with Sainsbury’s Energy in September, I was promised 12,000 Nectar points.

Despite many emails and promises from the company, I have not received them.

PH South Ayrshire.

Sainsbury’s was unable to explain the delay but has contacted you to apologize and the points have been added to your account.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email [email protected] — provide phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organization giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take any responsibility for them. The Daily Mail cannot accept any legal responsibility for answers given.

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