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Barclays Student Account upgraded to Graduate Additions without customer consent


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I'm writing on behalf of a mate of mine, who had a student account with Barclays while studying in the UK. Soon after completing his studies (in 2004), he left for an overseas job, leaving about £50 in his student account. His statements kept coming to his UK address, but it wasn't until recently that he checked one of these statements to find himself with a negative balance by a few hundred quid (about £450), with the account now titled "Barclays Bank Account", and with an overdraft interest being charged each month.


It seems his student account was upgraded to the Graduate Additions account (charging a £5 month fee) without his consent while he was away. Barclays also do another graduate account called Higher Education account (no monthly fee), and still they upgraded his account to the one charging a monthly fee for benefits he didn't want or ask for.


Since graduate accounts themselves have a life of about 2-3 years, it seems his account was ultimately changed to a normal current account (they call it "Barclays Bank Account"), hence the £5 monthly fee disappeared. However, by the time this happened, the £50-odd that he had last left in the account was all gone, and the account was well in negative, with overdraft penalties and interest adding further to the negative balance.


Since all this happened because of Barclays choosing to upgrade his Student account to a Graduate Additions account (instead of Higher Education account) without his consent, I would appreciate some advice on whether my mate is entitled to reclaim all the charges / interest which he has incurred because of Barclays' actions without his consent.


Thanks in advance !

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I know he can certainly claim back the penalty charges. Unsure of the others, maybe a SAR sent to Barclays specifically asking for info on the transfer/authorisation of his account to a graduate account?


I know this does not happen automatically as I have a Higher Education account which (if I hadn't left uni and had graduated on time) would have turned into a Grad account some years ago

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From what I know, both Graduate Additions and Higher Education are in fact graduate accounts, with the only difference being that the former charges £5 a month for added benefits whereas the latter charges no monthly fee and has pretty standard features. If you go to the Barclays website now, you will see this is the case.


The transition, as per my understanding, is as follows:


Student A/C -(graduation)-> Higher Education / Graduate Additions -(2-3 years)-> Current A/C


I'm surprised that your Higher Education account has not turned into a normal current account, assuming you finished uni at least 3 years ago. I guess with the Higher Education account, apart from the interest-free OD limits in the first couple of years, there didn't seem to be any other benefits which would differentiate them from a normal current account, which could be a reason why you still have the Higher Education account.


"Additions" is generally a premium product which applies a monthly charge in exchange for some additional benefits. There's a thread in here about normal current account customers being upgraded to "Additions" current account without their consent, or some who were mis-sold the product.


My mate's case is slightly different as it was expected that his student account would be converted into a graduate account upon graduation, but he wasn't expecting them to convert it it to a fee-chargeable premium account.


I can imagine it'll be hard to find someone who may have been through this same scenario, as most graduates, who keep an eye on their statements, are generally sharp enough to spot any monthly charges, whereas my mate hasn't even been around in the UK to notice what Barclays have upgraded his account into.

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