With thanks to loulouxx who won a refund of packaged account fees and associated interest of £8k from Natwest this week (March 2014) with her packaged accounts reclaim letter.

  • Background

I took out a NatWest Advantage Gold Account in November 2001 in the Branch. This was my first experience of ‘Adult Banking’ as I was upgrading from an Under 18’s Basic Account.

  • Complaint

That I was given incorrect information and no information at the branch. I was told that I had to take out a fee paying account to be able to get any form of credit and that it would boost my rating.

I never received any notifications of fee increases, I only noticed the increase from my bank statement and when I called to cancel I was told if I did I would lose my Credit card and Overdraft and would need to repay the debt within 30 days which would’ve put me in a difficult financial position, thus I had no choice but to keep the ‘packaged’ account open.

I also stated that the policies were inadequate and of no use to me as in some cases I had to take out a second policy.

I gathered all my information that I still had for the Account. This included the welcome pack, fee increases and dates for when I took out the account and when the account closed.

I called NatWest Customer Services and filled in any gaps I had such as the fee increases.

I then researched using the way back machine archive to search for historical rates on cards, loan and overdrafts.

I also used review sites that were from the time I took out the account and of course Google.

Once I had everything together I then read all the information from my welcome pack.

First was my Travel insurance policy, I also had an old insurance policy I took out in 2003 with my travel agent. I compared both policies and found why I had to take out a second policy. Under AG travel insurance from 2001 it didn’t cover ‘Personal Money, Passport or Legal Expenses. These were all paid extras on the AG policy. They were covered under my 2nd policy.

I then looked at Mortgages, cover for white goods and household insurance discounts. This was no benefit to me as I didn’t own my own home and lived – still do – with my parents.

I then looked at Mobile insurance. I didn’t have any information for this so my first reason why I couldn’t use it was I didn’t know a phone needed to be registered or even that the insurance existed.

I also found that Break Down was a Benefit but I later found out that it was not added until 2008. This gave me 2 reasons firstly I don’t drive, nor hold a license or own a car and I never have the second was that I was never sent any changes in reference to the Packaged.

I sent off my letter on the 26/02/2014. Outlining the above and gave a detailed account of the sale and that I wanted all my fees I had paid plus the 8% interest.

I wanted to research the interests that I had received throughout having the account for a credit card, loan and an overdraft as I had a tariff that showed preferential rates for AG account holders.

I didn’t find anything comparable in regards to NatWest free accounts but I did find interest for 2001 for a free account at Nationwide, Barclays and Santander (was back then Abbey National) which showed that the rates I got were of no benefit and this also back up the fact that I was given no other option to compare the benefits vs a free account. This was also true for my loan and my overdraft.

This was the letter I sent

Customer Relations Manager
NatWest
PO Box 594
Chatham
ME4 9DP
Dear Sir / Madam,
Account name: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Account number: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sort Code: xx-xx-xx
I first opened a NatWest Basic Account in April 2000 with a basic cash account. In Nov 2001 I decided to take out a credit card and was told that I needed to upgrade my account to be able to do this. I went into the branch on 02/11/2001 and asked about the accounts available.

I was advised to take out the Advantage Gold account as it meant that I would have a better credit score and I would then be eligible to take out a credit card and an overdraft. The fees were explained to me as £6 per month.

Fast forward to September 2003 I found that the £6 fee had increased but I had not received any information from NatWest. This happened a further 2 times by June 2010 the fee had doubled. I was mis-sold as firstly I was never given the option of upgrading to a free account and was told that I would not be eligible and that any credit card or overdraft application I made would be rejected.

I know that, that information is incorrect and untrue. Secondly I was given misleading information that having the Advantage Gold account would increase my credit score and ability to obtain credit. This is incorrect as I have since found out that it doesn’t and thirdly I was advised that the fee was £6 per month I was never informed of any increases to the fee and when asked I was told that fee’s increase due to costs and that if I downgraded my account I would lose my overdraft facility and this would put me in financial hardship.

I also have not received any detailed terms and conditions in regards to the insurance policies except for the travel insurance. Also I was not told that part of the benefits were Breakdown Cover, which I was not eligible to claim as I do not hold a driver’s license and I never have held one.

I am writing to request a full refund of the fees I have paid plus any interest owed to me. This to my knowledge is £1869.20 the 8% pa interest as per the FOS/FSA has been added accordingly this is for the dates from 02/12/2001- 02/06/2010 which is when I would’ve last paid into the account.

I understand that the account has an outstanding balance of £905.75 but from what I have been told by your customer service team that is also made up of fees for the account between 02/06/2010 – 30/09/2011 which was when the account defaulted.

I ask that you restructure the account to what it would have been without the fees. Also please look at the interest and charges I incurred because of the fees. I have included this in my letter as I do understand that any outstanding amount owed to NatWest will be deducted from the refunded redress paid to me.
I look forward to your response to resolve this complaint, otherwise I won’t hesitate taking my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Yours faithfully

 

LouLouxx

 

I had received no acknowledgement or response to my letter so I sent an email to RBS CEO along with my letter and I also added the update info I had found in regards to rates and as I had all the information on what policies and the reasons plus more I restated each one listing and why I had no use for it. That was sent on the 05/03/2014 at around 11pm.

I received a phone call from the complaints team on 6/3/2014 asking me to clarify a few thing I was at my laptop so I opened up the email and went through each one at a time. By the end of the call I was told that my claim had been upheld and that they would pay back all my fees I had paid plus interest from 2001 – 2011.

I asked about an outstanding and she needed to confirm and readjust and come back to me by the latest on Tuesday with a settlement figure.

 

  • Final outcome and reason behind the decision

I received a phone on Wednesday morning and was told that after calculating everything I was awarded the following;

  • £1200 – Paid Account Fees from Nov 2001 until July 2011
  • £4600 – Compensation for the total amount of lending charges that had been debited from my account Nov 2001 and Aug 2011
  • £29 – Deducted for overdraft savings
  • £2900 – Compensation for the lack of access I have had to above funds as well as the stress and inconvenience I suffered in the form of 8% on the above sum.

Everything I had stated was found to correct and I had in fact registered a phone on the insurance in 2010 but had not benefited from the Travel insurance or breakdown cover.

Their records showed that I had not been send a full welcome pack nor any notification on the changes or fee increases.

They were not able to tell my why only that they didn’t. I had also made a saving of £29 from the overdraft rates on the account and that was deducted.

In regards to my outstanding debt which had resulted in a default, they have cleared this and have arrange for the default to be removed.

  • Useful information
  • Make sure you have correct information this can be obtained either in the form of sending an SAR which does cost £10 but will give you all the information that hold on you, a welcome pack and bank statements
  • Carefully studies the benefits and any limitations. Then in your letter list each one, with a reason why it was of no use to you, try to give an example and if at all possible any proof you have i.e. a second insurance policy or hospital letter that shows a pre – existing medical condition.
  • Look at the rates for credit cards, loans, mortgages, overdraft for your account it also may be called a Tariff.
  • Research other cases of mis sold package accounts as it can give an indication of what to expect but remember every account and claim is personal to that person but I can be used as a rough guide.
  • Useful searches I found was Way Back When Machine Web Archive which has historical screen shots of websites from dates that can be as far back as the 90’s. Please note that some banking sites don’t work which I have been told could be down to security. From my experience NatWest work from 2007 but it was hard to get anything earlier and is the same with all except EGG and Nationwide. Google is another. Any customer review sites that have financial products. Ciao was one I used. Consumer forums are also a great source.
  • Ask for help on the forums. I will say that some sites you may get feedback like you were mis sold you mis brought or that you should’ve read your terms and conditions and other along them lines. Please ignore these negative comments and don’t answer to prove otherwise because firstly you don’t have to and secondly if they have comment with responses like that then it’s normally based on option rather than fact. Genuine negative comments will ask questions first then if it still doesn’t seem like you have a strong case they will offer constructive criticism that is to guide and give advice. I’m maybe biased but LB from what I have found are helpful and I have never had any such negative comments.
  • Conclusion

Reclaiming package account fees are a lot more in depth than PPI and it was only recently highlighted so banks will be very strict with finding any reasons that you benefited.

There are often many of these to take into consideration this is why you have to list each one in detail. What may also be used is that they charges were on your monthly statement so to say I did not know after a few years of charges is hard and won’t cut it. Also even though you were mis sold at the point of sale if you have claimed on a policy or you could’ve will be taken into consideration. But even though I was eligible for mobile insurance I showed that I was not eligible for the rest.

Also after sale like changes that is also looked at. So even if you didn’t receive any information at the beginning if you did further down the line then they will question why did you not cancel? if you didn’t. But that can also work the other way so if you received the information but no notifications of changes then that would also be a reason for mis-sold.