Advantages Flexible Mortgage Product
Disadvantages When Things Go Wrong They Go BADLY Wrong!
Although the Abbey claim that mortgage problems in April were due to payments being taken twice, I can exclusively reveal the truth of what occurred. I was one of those affected by the 'Mortgage Madness' which struck several thousand Abbey National Mortgage accounts recently, mainly accounts beginning '915'.The problems actually started way back in March. To give you some idea, my mortgage payment is made by Direct Debit on 23rd of each month. In March the Abbey failed to take the payment as usual on 23rd and wrote to advise that there had been ‘a problem with the Direct Debit’. The payment was eventually taken on 30th March. In the meantime I received an arrears notice. I had been warned about this in advance by letter, so was not unduly worried at this time.
As my payment date is the 23rd of the month, and the March payment had already been taken on 30th March, I was not concerned when I read in the Press that Abbey National had ‘inadvertently’ charged some customers their April mortgage payments twice. After all, I was not due to pay them anything further until 23rd April. I was therefore shocked to discover that despite having had the usual mortgage payment deducted from my account on 30th March, the Abbey proceeded to make FOUR further debits to my account, two on 2nd April and two more on 4th April. Two of the payments taken were the same my usual mortgage payment but the other two were the payment which I was due to make in April, mortgage interest having been reduced in the interim. So in the space of a week I paid my mortgage five times!I telephoned the Abbey mortgage processing centre on 4th April at 8am and after sitting in a queue for half an hour was told that refunds would be made to my account the same day. And indeed two refunds were passed to the account of 4th April. But the other two payments were never refunded.
Mortgage payments are a large chunk of anyone's outgoings, so it doesn't take much imagination to realise that by this time I was running a pretty substantial overdraft. I have a modest overdraft facility, but it was nowhere near covered the sums that were taken. The problem was compounded by the fact that I didn't realise the extent of the problem until I phoned my Bank for a run of account on the evening of April 3rd. By which time several cheques and Direct Debits had been returned unpaid. One of the Direct Debits was for car insurance, a cheque was for car tax. Another cheque was to the Inland Revenue. For a period of 24 hours I was technically driving around untaxed and uninsured and had just bounced a cheque to the taxman. All things which I could easily go to prison for. I thank my lucky stars that I didn't have an accident that day. My position would have been precarious indeed!All this time, Abbey National publicity spokesmen continued to advise the Press that the problem had been ‘fixed’. They admitted to the Press that Abbey National April mortgage payments were ‘accidentally duplicated’. But in my case no payment was due for another three weeks. So they not only made four unauthorised debits to my account but took money to which you they were not entitled without my knowledge or consent. A prime example of an horrendous abuse of the Direct Debit System.
So far as it is now known, the problem stemmed from the Royal Bank of Scotland, who handle the Abbey's Mortgage Payment Processing and who admitted to running a payment tape twice. But this doesn't account for why customers who were not due to pay their mortgages for several weeks were charged multiple times. Much has been disguised by smoke and mirrors.So far I have been offered (and accepted) a compensation payment of £50 plus Bank charges. Paltry reward. But maybe I am lucky to have been offered that. Customers who haven't complained have received nothing.
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