All 5 entries tagged Fines

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November 01, 2007

Everything I learned about unfair bank charges I learned from Abbey

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin:

I bank with Abbey. I like banking with Abbey; the Durham branch is right next to a bus stop, their online banking system is easy enough to use, and the staff in the branch are generally friendly. I'd never had any trouble with them until recently.

When I started my third year at Warwick (some time ago, now) my Student Account's overdraft limit reached its maximum of about £1600; a rather pleasant sum. All was well until September this year (the next academic year following my first year as a Graduate).

When I checked my balance online on the 3rd I discovered that I was suddenly a few hundred pounds over my overdraft limit. I was understandably shocked. After looking at the recent transactions and the current balance I came to the conclusion, quite rightly as it turned out, that no money had been taken from my account but that my overdraft limit had been reduced by £600.

I rushed into the branch to try to find out what had happened. It turns out that they gave notice of the reduction and that it's how the Graduate Account works; the overdraft limit is reduced each year (I assume each year; I've only had time to reach one so far...). I was certain then, and am still certain now, that I didn't receive a letter saying that my overdraft limit was due to shrink (more on that later). In retrospect it was somewhat wishful thinking to assume it wouldn't ever shrink, but I still didn't know in advance.

So it shrank at the start of September and I noticed on the 3rd. I transferred the hundred-ish pounds I still had in my savings account into my current account and begged the rest (a couple of hundred) off family to get me Back to Black. The reason I was in such a hurry was that my Vodafone bill was due out a few days later and I didn't want the Direct Debit to bounce. I contacted Vodafone, and they said just to cancel the Direct Debit with Abbey, so I did.

I got the money back into my account as quickly as I could, I contacted Abbey themselves to tell them to cancel the Direct Debit, and I saw on the next statement (up to 3rd Sep) that the £20 charge for going overdrawn had been waived because it's a graduate account and it was the first charge in 6 months (first for longer in reality, but that's how the feature works). I though it was a bit irritating of them to bill me when they made me overdrawn, but since it had been waived, since I was back in the black, and since Vodafone had eventually been paid I assumed this was the end of the matter.

I love the smell of wishful thinking in the morning...

A few weeks ago I made a large purchase that used up all the money I had in my account. Because of this I had to stop buying things for a few weeks while my income built the balance back up enough to cover the next Vodafone bill (I'd got the calculator out, and it would). Since I couldn't spend anything I wasn't checking my balance as often, because I couldn't do anything with it. This is why it was yesterday (31st Oct) when I noticed about sixty pounds of bank charges had been taken on the 25th. Again I was shocked, furious even, and still hadn't expected it (having already covered that fact I assumed the matter dealt with).

Having already covered the waived £20 for going overdrawn, these new charges were £25 for an "unauthorised overdraft monthly fee" despite being fined for going overdrawn and dealing with it within days and within the same month, £1.21 interest which I'm prepared to ignore, and £35 for the bounced DD to Vodafone despite asking Abbey themselves to cancel it.

And not only did I have these unexpected charges, but the charges put me over my overdraft limit again!

Fortunately I was already back in the black before I noticed because it put me only slightly over the limit and some money came in on Monday. But still, not only do I have these charges but I'm probably going to have more because the charges put me over the overdraft limit!

So I shot into the branch again and had a word with the Manager, who has no more power than the lowly cashiers I spoke to last time. She couldn't do anything, and couldn't even comment on the ridiculous size of the charges because of the active case started by Watchdog's report. While I was there, she did cancel the Vodafone DD for me again because it's due on Monday...

So I still had to leave the branch without satisfaction.

When I got back home I must admit I checked my latest statement and there was indeed a tiny section listing the upcoming charges. Well, dammit, I want a separate letter with big flashing lights; this is too important to risk being missed. This is obviously what happened when they shrank the overdraft: it wasn't a letter, but a minuscule note on a statement.

Anyway, that's the story so far (future events expected to be at least another charge for them making me overdrawn). Here's a summary:

  1. 1st Sep: Abbey shrank my overdraft limit without me realising, which put me over the limit without my bank balance changing.
  2. 3rd Sep: I noticed this, and went into the branch, and arranged for enough money to be transferred into my account.
  3. When next statement arrived: Noticed waived charge for going overdrawn (despite the fact I didn't technically; overdrawn went over me...). It was waived, so thought no more about it.
  4. 18th Oct: Spent a lot of money and had to not spend anything for the next fortnight to save up for Vodafone bill.
  5. 25th Oct: Unexpected charges were taken which put me back over the limit.
  6. 29th Oct: Money came in which brought me back into the black.
  7. 31st Oct: I checked my balance for the first time since a few days before 25th in preparation for the Vodafone payment

So there we are, Abbey made me overdrawn and charged me for the privilege. It's a stupid system; I could pull a better banking system out of my a$$, especially since there are at least two dollars in "a$$"...

The first thing I would do is send letters in BIG RED LETTERS to warn people of important things like charges and shrinking overdrafts. And speaking of letters, it's time to draft one to Abbey. I'm getting too old for this shit.

Also, as an aside, how many Pop Culture references can you spot? If memory serves, there are five.

October 14, 2005

It was like that when I got there; honest, Guv…

Follow-up to Putting on the writs from The randomness of tomorrow, today!

I've uploaded the photo they sent me of the stain, so you can see it if you like:

Behold! The 15 Pound Mattress Stain

October 12, 2005

Putting on the writs

Follow-up to Warwick Hospitality Frowns on Sweating! from The randomness of tomorrow, today!

Here's the full list, in case you were curious:

Total deduction 117.02

This deduction comprises of:
5 to spot clean the stains on the carpet.
6 compensation to the owner for the chip on your table.
5.14 to paint over the marks on your walls.
15 compensation to the owner for the stains on your mattress.

Turns out this is some sort of spillage. I have no idea where it came from…
1.05 towards replacing the broken freezer drawer.
1.07 towards replacing two broken drinks shelf in the fridge.
1.07 towards compensation to the landlord for the chips on the garage door.

I blame Matt Ashton. I assume these are the marks left over from when he was throwing knives at the door…
1.75 towards replacing three missing grill pans.
4.16 towards replacing the missing hoover.
1.25 towards replacing the edging strip on the worktop which had been chipped and pulled off
10.00 towards compensation to the owner for the two fridge doors that we dented.
1.30 towards compensation to the owner for the broken drawer under the sink.
1.30 towards compensation to the owner for the broken kitchen door closer.
1.30 towards compensation to the owner for the panels under the cupboard that had been pulled off.
10.41 towards replacing the three broken dining room chairs.

This one really annoys me. The old chairs seem cheap and I blame perfectly ordinary wear–and–tear.
1.30 towards compensation to the owner for the missing shelf from the lounge cupboard.
1.76 towards re–fixing the cupboard door in the lounge.
1.80 towards getting the radiator fixed that was pulled off the wall in the hallway.
1.25 towards compensation to the owner for the burn mark in the hallway.

That, I believe, was an iron…
0.83 towards replacing the missing phone.

I didn't even know it was missing…
1.08 towards replacing the missing ironing board.
1.30 towards compensation to the owner for the lifting wallpaper above the radiator in the hallway.
5.00 towards compensation to the owner for the lifting wallpaper in the corridor by the downstairs shower.

I blame the steam from the shower, although I haven't really paid it much attention; it could have been intentional…
Ground floor shower rooms
0.71 towards the missing towel rail in the ground floor shower room.
1.30 towards compensation to the owner for the skirting board which was damaged behind the door in the ground floor shower.
1.30 towards fixing the shower door which had come off the rails.
0.71 towards the missing toilet roll holder in the ground floor shower room.
3.75 towards fixing the broken window vent in the ground floor shower room.
1.30 towards fixing the broken shower drainer in the ground floor shower room.
1.30 towards replacing the missing cup holder in the ground floor shower room.
1.30 towards fixing damage to the ceiling above the shower in the ground floor shower room.
First floor shower room
0.57 towards fixing the shower door that had come off its runner.

That was like that when we got there…
1.33 towards re–fixing the shower panel under the cubicle in the first floor shower.
19.16 towards extra cleaning of the house.
4.17 towards rubbish removal.

Please note that all damages in communal areas are split equally between all tenants.

October 10, 2005

The plot thickens…

Follow-up to Warwick Hospitality Frowns on Sweating! from The randomness of tomorrow, today!

Just got a reply back, with photos, and the stains are 'normal' stains (i.e. small and blob–shaped) and, from one of the photos, appear to be underneath, so I really have no idea how they got there, but they definately aren't me…

Warwick Hospitality Frowns on Sweating!

I recently recieved the (long) list of charges for last year. One of them stuck out the second time I read through it:

£15 compensation to the owner for the stains on your mattress

I can assure you all that the only possible thing this can be is sweat.

It therefore seems to me that the University is charging me £15 for sweating…

I just thought I'd share this with you as a warning to all those 2nd years who've just moved off campus: Sweating - Do Not Try This At Home!

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