I am here on behalf of my mum and I would really appreciate some help.
My mum is 67 years old and lives off a basic state pension and some pension credit.
She is a home owner but has no savings.
Prior to 2007 she had a basic, non-fee paying current account with the Halifax.
In 2007 she was advised by Halifax staff to open an Ultimate Reward current account.
Like many pensioners she struggles to manage on her pension
and she was told that she could have a "free" £300 overdraft
which would help her if she opened the Reward account.
As you know, the Ultimate Reward account offers "perks" such as
emergency home repair cover,
AA breakdown cover,
mobile phone insurance and
I must point out that my mum doesn't drive and therefore doesn't own a car,
she has never owned a mobile phone and she is unfit to travel due to health reasons.
The only thing she could possibly benefit from is the home emergency repair cover.
She was never asked whether she drives, owns a mobile phone or travels.
As time went on she went further into the £300 overdraft but never went beyond it.
She had cause to contact the bank in March this year and the staff member
told her that they could extend her overdraft to £350 to help her manage.
In April the same thing happened;
she contacted the bank to check her balance and was told that she was almost at £350
into her overdraft but fear not, they could extend it to £400.
My mum just pays her way and has never had any debt, nor has she ever had a loan or mortgage.
In June this year she was diagnosed with cancer and is now recovering from a major operation
and has thankfully had the all clear.
Nevertheless she has had a pretty tough time of late.
I have never interfered with her finances and I only get involved if she asks me.
When she went into hospital in June she gave me her bank card
and asked me to pay a few bills etc for her.
I was horrified to see that she had an Ultimate Reward account.
When I asked her if she realised just how much she was being charged for this she didn't have a clue.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but she didn't even know about the "perks"
and she didn't realise that she was paying for her bank account
- I think it used to be £10 per month but it's now £15.
On top of that is the amount that she is paying for having an overdraft of £400.
The first £300 is free and beyond that she pays £1 per day, for every day that she is over £300.
I know she has been silly and very naïve but that's my mum I'm afraid.
She likes the staff as they are always nice and friendly on the phone...grrrr....
Now that I have explained to her that she has a debt to the bank that
she can't get out of due to massive charges each month and that she is receiving "perks"
that mean absolutely nothing to her, she is beside herself with worry.
I am trying to find the agreement that she signed when she opened the account
but as yet I haven't been able to locate it.
I have established the exact date when she opened the account.
I also have the dates when the overdraft was extended.
I made an appointment at the Halifax and attended with my mum on Monday.
I asked the staff member to close the account but she said it couldn't be closed until the overdraft was paid.
I asked if the debt could be treated as a loan which my mum could pay back at a fixed amount each month,
but the lady said this wasn't possible.
So until the overdraft is paid my mum is stuck with the account (and the monthly fee for the unnecessary perks).
I took my mum to another bank yesterday and she has opened up a new current account
for her pension to be paid into.
All we can do for now is try to pay money into her old Halifax account each month
to clear the overdraft, but obviously she will still have to put enough in each month
to cover the cost of the account itself.
If I had the £400 myself I'd gladly give it to her, but unfortunately I don't.
I'm sorry this is so long but I really would like to know how to proceed from here.
I feel this account was mis sold to my mum from the start
and I feel she should be reimbursed the fees.
Do I complain to the Halifax first, or do I go to the Ombudsman?
What do I say and how do I word it??
Do I need all her statements since she opened the account,
or do I just ask for the fees back and trust they will calculate it?
I am so angry that they have taken advantage of my mum who is so trusting
and yep quite naïve, but who has never been in debt in her life
and who has been throwing her meagre pension at the Halifax bank
who don't give a flying fig how much she is struggling.
I will be so grateful for any help that anyone can offer me.
Many thanks in advance.