My elderly parents lodged a cheque from Canada last June but are still waiting for the funds to clear
I’m writing on behalf of my parents, both of whom are in their seventies. They are being caused serious problems by Santander’s handling of a cheque for 5,000 Canadian dollars (approx £3,000) from a family member in Canada, drawn on an account at the Bank of Nova Scotia. This was presented to their local branch of Santander in early June 2012. The funds were credited a few days later “subject to cheque negotiation”. My aunt was also sent a similar cheque into her UK bank account, which is not with Santander. At the end of September the funds were removed from my parents’ account without notice, leaving them unable to cover direct debits.
Since then, nothing has happened. My parents have been told several different versions of what went wrong (branch error, wrong currency, cheque not honoured, etc). But my aunt, who banks elsewhere, had no problem. Is there anything you can do to try to get my parents their money? GT, Edinburgh
Nearly nine months after depositing the cheque, Santander has now finally managed to credit the cash — £3,222 to your parents’ account.
Santander says the money was taken back from your parents because it had received notice that the “cheque was unpaid”, possibly indicating that your family member in Canada did not have enough funds to cover the amount.
Not only was this wrong, Santander failed to communicate with your parents. There then seemed to be a discrepancy between reference numbers and names. This may have been because there were two cheques for the same amount, one for your parents and one for your aunt. But, according to Santander, this led to your parents’ money being debited in error.
It may have been the Canadian bank’s fault but Santander, your parents’ only point of contact, failed to sort out the problem. Santander acknowledges this and, as well as crediting the value of the cheque, has sent £265 as a goodwill gesture plus a gift.
This week’s column is guest-written by Tony Levene. We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at email@example.com or write to Bachelor & Brignall, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number