Do you wonder why more and more people are choosing to transfer their money overseas using a money transfer service rather than a bank? The Financial Ombudsman Service, set up by Parliament, is the UK’s official expert for sorting out problems with financial services. They have the legal power to decide if someone has been treated unfairly and the legal power to put things right. In 2016 the Financial Ombudsman Service dealt with over two million people. While not all of the problems were with banks and money transfers, their cases are interesting to read as precautionary tales when dealing with banks.
Mrs F wanted to transfer £90,000 to her savings account in France. She wrote to her bank in the UK to ask them to transfer the money. A few days later, she received a letter from her bank's transfer department telling her that it had been unable to carry out the transfer. The letter provided a general helpline number and asked Mrs F to get in touch.
Over the next few days, Mrs F phoned the bank several times but was unable to reach the right department. So she made the one-hour round trip to her nearest branch where a member of staff was able to transfer the money straightaway.
Mrs F subsequently made a complaint to the bank, saying that the exchange rate had changed since she first requested the transfer - and that the bank's delay had caused her to lose out. The bank responded to the complaint, and told her that for security reasons, it had been unable to process the transaction without additional authorisation. It said that it would have attempted to contact Mrs F three or four times by phone, in line with its procedures.
Unhappy with this explanation, Mrs F referred her complaint to the Ombudsman’s office. The complaint was upheld and the bank had to pay Mrs F the difference between the money she had actually received and the money she would have received had the transfer been made on the date she received the bank's letter. In addition, the bank had to pay £150 compensation for the inconvenience it had caused.
This is just one example of the many the Financial Ombudsman office deals with regarding transferring money via banks. It’s no wonder there is a problem talking to the right person at a bank since they are large corporations with many divisions but few people who can help you from start to finish. Money transfer services, using up to date software, are much more convenient in the end.