Last year, many of you know, I was diagnosed with Cancer. This meant I was unable to work for much of the year. My husband also had to take quite a lot of time off work, unpaid, to look after me and the children. Unfortunately, I also wasn’t in a position to qualify for any benefits, so we ended up struggling financially and sinking further into debt. This kind of life event, causes a financial strain which lasts a few years and we are still struggling through it now.
Due to a few of my direct debits bouncing, my bank applied charges, as they always do. These charges soon snowballed, until the charges themselves were causing more charges or eating the money meant for other bills, which then also bounced.
As the charges began mounting up, I went to see one of the personal bankers at my local bank. We had a chat and he explained that Lloyds Bank will often help people in financial difficulty, especially in circumstances like mine. He cleared a few of my charges and promised he had “put a note on the system” to prevent any further charges from coming out. He told me to come back in if I have any more charges applied.
So I did… the charges that weren’t supposed to come out, did. I was then told that it was too late and they couldn’t refund any more for a whole year. That I needed to go into the bank BEFORE the charges were taken from my bank account, in order to have them removed.
So I did… I found myself returning to the bank, every month about charges, and every time I was promised that there was “a note on the system”, the charges were still taken from my account.
So I tried a different branch. Two more branches in fact. And in both, I was told that there weren’t ANY “notes on the system” and that nothing could be stopped or refunded.
One customer service assistant, even spent five minutes trying to sell me a loan. Clearly he hadn’t looked at my account, or he would have known I wasn’t eligible. The bank staff seem to constantly promise to help. They are always writing “notes on the system”, which magically disappear by my next visit. Nothing ever actually gets done.
I’m not saying it is my right to have these charges removed – but this was offered to me numerous times. I keep getting told that Lloyds are happy to help long serving customers who suddenly find themselves in financial difficulty. Their TV adverts state that they are “here to help”. Yet they seem to be full of empty promises and don’t ever actually… help! In fact, if I were to add up all the money I spent on petrol and parking to go to the bank every time this happens, I would probably be even more upset.
On my most recent visit, I was told by a very charming young man, that there’s a number I can call, and someone might be able to help me. A premium rate number. When I’ve just moved house and have no phone. Where people will still have no records of all the conversations in branch.
Between my Cancer diagnosis and now (1 year 8 months), I have been charged a whopping £635.00 by Lloyds Bank. To me, that is a huge amount of money. I’d almost go as far as to say a life changing amount of money – because that would pay off a big chunk of our debts.
I wish I could leave Lloyds Bank, but unfortunately I’m too far into my overdraft. I also bank with another high street bank, who I’ve never had a single problem with. They’ve been brilliant. I dread to think how much money Lloyds Bank have made out of me, in charges, in the TEN years I have been a customer.
It’s unfair of a bank, to offer help to a vulnerable customer and then not follow through with that help. To mess that customer around constantly for over a year. To take that amount of money, in charges. Especially a bank whose motto is “here to help”, when clearly they aren’t.
Just one day after writing this post I received a full apology from Lloyds Bank. They have stated that the service I received was not up to their usual standard. They investigated my case and refunded me all the charges that were taken from me, since 2011, due to seeing evidence of financial hardship on my account. I am very happy with their response and the politeness and professionalism in which the higher level management dealt with my complaint. It is a shame that it had to go this far in the first place, but I will now continue to bank with lloyds.
Hilda Hazel Wright says
Funny how reading this doesn’t suprise me, we’ve come to expect this kind of treatment from financial institutions. You need to put all that in writing to Lloyds complaints department and give them time to respond. If you’re not happy with their response you can take it further with the Financial Ombudsman Service but the FOS won’t look into it until Lloyds have had time to investigate the complaint first.
Firstly, I just wanted to mention that this is the first time I’ve been to your blog (I came across a retweet and thought I’d have a look), so I don’t know all of the background. However, I read this post and knew that I wanted to comment in case my advice could help just a little bit with what must be a very stressful situation.
To try and resolve the issues you’ve been having with the advice about fees you should try emailing the CEO, Antonio Horta Osorio directly. His email address is email@example.com.
Banks generally have a special team to deal with complaints from the media or sent directly to the CEO. They generally deal with problems more quickly and efficiently than going through the standard complaints procedure or going into the branch.
I can’t guarantee it’ll work, but it might be worth a try and hopefully you might be able to get the help and support you need at what must be a difficult time.
Fingers crossed that you get this sorted an good luck with everything else too.
Twitted and Facebooked. Shameful, I am sorry you had to go through this. They have no excuse!xx
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Kim Carberry says
It sounds like they’ve messed you about so much….A similar thing happened to us when my fella was made redundant a few years ago….We of course didn’t have the cancer to deal with. After all the charges got out of hand an we were overdrawn by hundreds of pounds he just stopped using that bank account and went to another bank an opened an account and moved all the direct debits over. Eventually the debt on the account was passed to the debt collectors and after months of negotiating they halved the debt and we pay £5 a week off it. It’s slowly getting to the time where we’re finished paying it.
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Mummy Glitzer says
That’s awful! I really hope you get a resolution soon. You’re right; it’s really unfair to offer help and to not follow that through.
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Some advice – after my divorce I was in a horrible state financially and I racked up over £3.5k in bank charges over two years, so I know how it feels to get charge on top of charge and so on. What I found worked in the end was to cancel ALL direct debits. Pay the bills when you can – sure, you might pay late and get a charge from the water company, or whoever, but when it’s on Direct Debit you end up paying the water company AND the bank for the privilege. Sometimes twice, if it bounces a second time. And as you know every time it bounces and you pay a charge, it leaves you short on something else.
Second, I made a claim to reclaim bank charges, which you can do if you can demonstrate financial hardship – all the info and forms I needed were on MSE and I think it took less than four weeks start to finish – I got over £3,000 reimbursed, which was amazing.
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Emma Day says
Thanks Sally, I really appreciate your advice. I have cancelled some of my direct debits, but think I will take your advice and cancel some more now.
Could I ask what year you did your bank charge reclaim? Because I did this once before, many years ago and won it all back, but I was told it’s virtually impossible since the changes in regulations a few years ago. I’m so pleased you got all yours back though, that must have felt amazing when you got it. x
Sarah MumofThree World says
So sorry to read this, this is really awful treatment. I have no advice, but it looks like you’ve got some really useful advice from others. I hope that helps. x
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Sarah MumofThree World says
So pleased to read your update. A shame you had to go through all that crap first, but must be a real relief.
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esther james says
Glad it all got sorted- the power of blogging!