United Kingdom

ASK TONY: Catch 22 from Barclays' blind spot over power of attorney

My husband is 87 and in a private care home with acute dementia. I registered power of attorney (POA) in October last year.

I requested that money held in my husband's account be transferred to mine so that I can pay his care fees.

My husband was a Barclays Bank manager, so I sent the POA link to the branch where he holds his personal account.

Rejected: Barclays is refusing to transfer a husband's pension into his wife's account despite her having power of attorney

But the firm is insisting I send original documents, which is not necessary. I have sent proof of identity and other information required.

I am in my 80s and am supposed to stay indoors because of Covid. I have not had any problems with his state pension, so why is Barclays proving so difficult?

E. B., Northwood, Middlesex.

Tony Hazell replies: I am so fed up with Barclays popping up again and again in my mailbag over bereavement or power of attorney (also known as lasting power of attorney, or LPA) issues.

As you say in your letter, it is now possible to generate a unique access code from the Office of the Public Guardian via the gov.uk internet site.

This code allows banks and other organisations to view an LPA to check whether it is valid, view a summary and check who the attorneys are.

This applies to all LPAs registered in England and Wales since September 1, 2019. It means you don't have to take your documents into a branch.

But it appears that your knowledge of the system was much better than that of the Barclays branch you dealt with.

Even if the staff had not been told of this in training, or had dozed off in that particular section, the protocol on the website says that where someone cannot attend a branch it will make alternative arrangements.

A Barclays spokesman apologises and has now worked with you to ensure you are fully registered as having power of attorney for your husband and can now transfer the funds as you wish. But this should not have taken six months.

Barclays confirmed the government link for staff to view an LPA was always there but the staff were unaware of it. The spokesman has assured you it will look into training around this. You have also been sent a hamper as a goodwill gesture.

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some of the best from our article about how we've become hooked on subscription services. 

We had a bad financial crisis in our family a few years ago. 

We got out the bank statements and cancelled all our subscriptions for magazines and everything else. Situations like that make you reappraise your priorities.

E. H., Nottingham.

Subscription companies can run their businesses from a kitchen counter and save enormously on overheads. The death knells for the High Street shops are ringing loud and clear.

O. T., Oldham.

I love subscription boxes, they are a treat to look forward to once a month. 

Bake-off boxes and gin subscriptions are the best. However, some companies will only send you tiny samples and are not so good.

R. B., Midlands.

Nothing seems to come at a fixed price any more. It's all 'only £xx a month', from cards to delivery services. 

But I'm sure many of these direct payments will increase significantly once the first one has gone through

S. D., Bradford.

It baffles me how lazy people are. Who in their right mind would pay for a food or alcohol subscription box? Just head to your local supermarket and buy some beer and vegetables.

W. B., London.

I signed up for a weekly food parcel, as I thought it was worth a try. The first few weeks were great and the service saved me from going out during lockdown. 

However, it wasn't long before items started being substituted and I cancelled soon after that.

D. B., email.

Scammers hooked me with 'free' samples 

I applied for free samples from a company on the internet. It asked me to provide my debit card details to cover postage. I haven't received any items but it has debited my Lloyds Bank account.

The company say I ordered two tubs of detox tablets and signed up for a regular travel pack. This would be laughable if it were not for the fact that I am on daily dialysis which clears toxins from my body.

When I tried to reclaim the money, Lloyds chose to believe the scammers.

C.D., Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs.

Tony Hazell replies: It is so frustrating when your bank chooses to side with a dodgy internet company rather than a customer they have known for decades.

You had £9.99 and £99.95 taken from your card. When you attempted to get the money back, the company provided Lloyds with 'evidence' claiming you had actually signed up to detox tablets and enrolled in something called a 'monthly auto-ship program'. Note the American spelling.

The argument seems to be that because you provided your card details, this could not have been fraudulent. But surely the very essence of a scam is that people are persuaded to give up financial details.

Lloyds initially refunded your money but, faced with these claims, it reversed this decision and redebited the money.

When I made Lloyds aware of your health issues, it pirouetted and has refunded your money as a goodwill gesture.

There's a lesson here for all of us. Supposedly free offers on the internet are dangerous because the company is usually intent on harvesting your financial details and signing you up to a subscription via the small print.

These companies sail in grey seas: technically their activities may not be illegal, but they are immoral. 

Many are attempting to take your money under false pretences. Why else would they hide key terms in the small print rather than spelling them out in an easily understandable fashion?

Straight to the point 

I had medical tests done at The Doctor's Laboratory in October, ahead of potential fertility treatment, and was promised an itemised bill. 

We have since received an invoice for £706 but no breakdown. I have also been billed for a test I did not have.

M. J., via email.

The Doctor's Laboratory says there had been an administrative oversight and promised to send an itemised invoice immediately. 

You did not receive it. I made repeated requests and the firm insisted it had been sent. I have not heard back from you and feel you have now given up.

*** 

Robert Dyas is refusing to refund me for telephones I ordered from the retailer in September. 

I paid £119.99 for the handsets but, when I used them, I could hardly hear the person I was talking to. Robert Dyas insists I have not paid for the order, but my account shows I have.

B. R., Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.

Customer service has clearly fallen short of expectations and Robert Dyas accepts this. 

The retailer has apologised and refunded you in full, adding £50 as a goodwill gesture.

*** 

I ordered six cupcakes from Only Eggless for a friend as an Easter gift, but they never arrived. 

I've called the cake store in Wembley, North West London, five times to ask for my £20 refund, but I'm still waiting for my money.

M. L., Essex.

The cake company authorised your refund within hours of me getting in contact and you should receive your money within the next two weeks.

*** 

TV Licensing keeps sending letters threatening me with visits from enforcement officers and prosecution. 

But I renewed my licence in July by cheque and have pointed this out several times.

R. M., Shropshire.

TV Licensing insists it has no record of your payment. It has contacted you to ask for more information to trace it.

The Schuh don't fit... so where's my refund? 

I placed an order in December for two pairs of shoes from Schuh but it sent me one wrong item. So I returned this and was given a refund.

I ordered another pair and again was sent the wrong item. But after returning these, I am still trying to get the refund.

I did finally get the correct item on my third attempt.

Schuh says I have to take this up with [payments provider] Klarna. But Klarna keeps referring me back to its customer services department. Klarna says it processed the refund on December 16 but my bank confirms there was no refund.

I feel I am going around in circles. This only involves £24 but the principle has overtaken the amount of the refund.

E. K, Benfleet, Essex.

Tony Hazell replies: Disputes over small amounts can be the most frustrating.

Klarna says it made the refund on December 15 but your bank could not find it with the reference number it provided.

Klarna has now processed the refund again.

A spokesman says: 'We can see that the refund process did not go as smoothly as we would hope, and so, as a gesture of goodwill, we have arranged a second refund of £24 and have further compensated the customer with an additional £30 due to the inconvenience caused.'

Football news:

My mother didn't eat in the evenings because she left everything to us. New England star Calvin Phillips
Wijnaldum celebrated a goal for Ukraine in the style of van Dijk. He has already done so-constantly supports a friend
Andriy Shevchenko: Ukraine has found the strength to change the course of the game, to go on the attack. The team showed itself very well
Yarmolenko about 2:3: The Netherlands is one of the best teams in the world. But it was not a one-goal game
Ilya Herkus: The Netherlands is head and shoulders stronger than Ukraine. Class is class
Ukraine lost 6 matches in a row at the Euro, repeating the anti-record of the national team of Yugoslavia
Dumfries was the player of the match Netherlands - Ukraine. He scored the winning goal