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THIS MONTH’S STAR LETTER ★
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Iwould like to agree with the points made in the June issue of Moneywise about Santander regarding retaining existing customers versus acquiring new ones.
I was a customer with Alliance & Leicester [now Santander] for more than five years, and quite happy with its services and products.Then this year my current account went overdrawn for three days by about £160 due to an unexpected direct debit.
This caused Santander to charge me £10 a day for being overdrawn. During the time I was overdrawn, four other direct debits were presented and Santander charged me a £25 penalty for each one.
I complained about the charges, citing my clean record of five years, the numerous ISAs and savings accounts I hold with it and my Santander Zero credit card, which I always pay off in time. However, Santander refused to refund my £95 and merely offered £25 if I contacted its helpdesk first.
I wrote back threatening to close all my accounts and I pointed out the fact it was offering to pay £100 to new customers, but seemed unwilling to return my own £70 to retain a longstanding customer with multiple accounts.
It wrote back and said there was nothing it could (or would) do and the case was closed.
In response, I opened a First Direct account and have since moved all my accounts over. I can’t believe how stupid the people at Santander are, and I will never deal with the bank again.
I’m not surprised it came so far down in your satisfaction survey [Santander was voted the worst provider in the
Moneywise Customer Service Survey 2011]. It’s important these service levels are publicised so new customers tempted by its offers know what they are letting themselves in for. MARK BALDWIN-RAMULT/ VIA EMAIL
THE BRITISH RAIL RIP-OFF
Reading Esther Rantzen’s recent article in the May issue about rude train staff, one can almost see the smile of satisfaction on the face of the train guard as he shot down her friend’s arguments, and forced him to buy a new ticket for travelling on a different train.
However, he was wrong in saying that travelling on a ticket purchased by someone else is fraud.
I tried this out for myself online.The system allowed
Blog of the month: COMMUTERS CRUSHED BY FARE HIKES
BY REBECCA RUTT BY
Travelling around the UK has turned into a bit of a luxury and with news that rail fares could shoot up by 30% for off-peak fares in the next three years, buying a bike might be a good idea.
Fares are already too expensive. It’s disgraceful how much people have to pay just to get from A to B. I agree with Alice Ridley, spokesperson for the Campaign for Better Transport, who says passengers are paying too much, what with the effects of inflation, and a complex ticketing system.
If you book way in advance you can get some very cheap tickets. I recently booked a return trip to Cardiff, 12 weeks before, and got the whole journey for £15. But it’s rare for me to be so organised. If I made the same journey on an anytime return ticket bought on the day it would have cost £124.75 – and that’s with a 16-25 rail card, which gives 30% off. With the Olympics coming up, it’s time the government did something about the ridiculous fees and rubbish service we get. It’s bad enough in London with non-Oyster tube journeys costing £4.10 a trip, but there’s no excuse for yet more hikes. What really makes me mad is the service we’re forking out for. The Waterloo to Basingstoke commute is not only expensive but very poor. The trains are overcrowded, most of the journey is spent sitting on the floor, it’s over-priced and there’s no alternative. It’s not acceptable and it makes a mockery of the government trying to make us more environmentally conscious. Most of my friends drive long distances instead of getting the train because it’s usually cheaper. This is not how it should be.
6 MONEYWISE | JULY 2011
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WRITE TO MONEYWISE
Write to us (including your name, address and telephone number) at: Letters, Moneywise Publishing, Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA.
Or email us at email@example.com Alternatively, you can air your views at moneywise.co.uk on our blog or forum pages. Web me to select any number of tickets and after selecting two it took me right up to the point of payment.This showed that it’s possible for one person to buy multiple tickets and give them to who ever they want.
So my hypothetical journey, accompanied by a spouse or friend, would have been accepted. How can that be, if the guard told your friend that doing so was against railway regulations? You might want to take that up with Sir Richard.
More strength to your arm in challenging the complicated rip-off that can easily result from trying to travel by rail in Britain – unless one can pre-book and not deviate one iota from the plan, as you have shown.
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I also decided to see how much an ‘unbooked’ single fare is now; an alarming £199 for a single ticket.The fares for on-the-day travel are indeed eye-watering and complicated as there are many options and a lack of information and transparency. MICHAEL J MACMAHON/BRISTOL
Moneywise replies: The amount you can pay for train tickets on the day of travel is extortionate and although booking beforehand will always be cheaper, it’s sometimes impossible to plan ahead. We recommend getting a railcard if you travel often as these give one-third off the price of travel and
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are available for all ages. If you have to travel every day on the train, buying a season ticket will save you money.
HOW DO I FIND A NEW IFA?
Ihave been a subscriber to your magazine for nearly three years and I am beginning to understand a lot as before I was I was totally clueless about investments.
I have an independent financial adviser but I wonder if at times I am not being given the help I need. Sometimes it takes a while to get the right advice and some of the investments seem a bit slow. I would like to find another IFA but I don’t want to pick just any name from the phonebook. EILEEN MARIAN THURSH/VIA EMAIL
Moneywise replies: The best place to search for a good IFA is online via websites such as unbiased. co.uk or ifa.net. You can look for IFAs based on certain areas of personal finance, and find one local to you. Be aware, though, that when using an IFA you will be paying for the service.
Web Poll: DOYOUTHINKTHE 2012 OLYMPICTICKETING SYSTEMWAS FAIR?
35% NO. I have no idea how much I’ve spent or what I will be going to watch.
9% YES. Considering the size of the operation it was as fair as it could be.
56% I didn’t apply for Olympic tickets.
Total votes: 568 Thursday 26 May – Thursday 2 June
Flying Dutchman: Having to wait to find out whether you’ve got tickets, by checking your bank balance on a daily basis, and then not knowing for another couple of weeks what tickets you have is farcical.
This is akin to entering a restaurant, ordering food, not knowing what you’ll be served, or if it will arrive. If it’s not to your satisfaction, you have to wait until next year to complain!” Guest: The entire process was made clear; this is probably the fairest way to issue tickets. If it was on a first-come, first-serve basis, then you would have to be at your computer or phone the moment they went on sale to be sure you got the tickets you wanted. Reader1: The tickets should have gone on sale nearer the time of the event. Does it really make sense to have tickets sitting in your drawer waiting for a whole year?
JULY 2011 | MONEYWISE 7