Brexit, Barclays & HSBC Banks – the second instalment

HSBC Debit card © Ricky Yates

Just one day after I wrote the first instalment of this saga, a letter arrived in my mail box. No, not the promised bank statement from Barclays, but a letter from the UK Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It was a request for the completion and return of a ‘life certificate’ – putting it bluntly, the DWP wanted me to prove that I’m still alive!

The letter arises because I don’t live in the UK. The DWP fear that when I do ‘pop my clogs’, they will not necessarily be told and will be paying out pension to a dead person. I have had a request of this nature previously and have also once signed a life certificate for a member of the St Clement’s, Prague congregation as a Minister of Religion is one of the possible people whose confirmation is acceptable. I was seeing my GP the next day so he happily agreed and signed mine to say that I was still alive. In those immortal words, attributed to Mark Twain, ‘Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated’ 😉

However, according to the HSBC website, a DWP letter confirming your right to benefits (dated within the last 4 months), is acceptable as proof of address. Whilst the letter didn’t confirm my right to benefits, it did state quite clearly that I would lose my right to benefits, unless I filled it in and returned the life certificate. And it was dated 14th August, less than one month old.

So I photocopied the DWP request and sent the original, with a covering letter, by registered post, to Tracy at HSBC Nottingham. Twenty-one days later, I received an email from Tracy saying that I had now successfully proved my address and the block had been removed from my new account. I’ve since received a shiny new debit card and a PIN code, both arriving in my mail box on the same day, but in separate envelopes.

After failing to act on my first request, the Church of England Pensions Board have eventually managed to pay my September pension payment into this new account and the payment due on Monday 31st October, arrived safely.

Barclays promising to make money work for me 😉 © Ricky Yates

However, getting access to the contents of my now closed Barclays account is an ongoing saga. According to the advice on the Barclays Bank website, it is possible to reclaim my money online, by post, or by visiting one of their UK branches. But both the online and postal options involve getting certified copies of certain documents to prove my identity and confirm where I live. In other words, a great amount of hassle and considerable cost. For example, to get a certified copy of my passport would involve a trip to the British Embassy in Prague and the payment of a £25.00 fee 🙁 Therefore, I plan to use the third option, by revisiting the Nottingham city centre Barclays branch when I’m in the UK for nine days in mid-December.

By going in-person, I will just need to produce my passport to prove who I am, without the need for a certified copy. But it is the second requirement that is proving far more difficult. To quote directly from the Barclays website, ‘A document that shows your current full address, and is dated within the last three months, such as a bank statement, credit card statement, or utility bill. You can use a driving licence, if it hasn’t been used as proof of identity’.

I am back to exactly the same problem that delayed the opening of my new HSBC bank account. I don’t hold a credit card. The only utility bill I receive is for my electricity, once a year in June, meaning it is more than three months old. My Czech driving licence doesn’t show my full address. It just says Huntírov, the municipality in which I live.

The one thing that would prove my current address would be a statement from Barclays themselves, showing the current details of my now closed account. But despite requesting one, in-person, on Tuesday 23rd August, as described in my earlier post, it has not materialised.

So having waited for nearly two months, on Monday 17th October, I wrote to the Barclays address in Leicester from where the letter telling me of the closure of my account originated, and made a second request. I quoted back the text of that letter which states, ‘If you find you do need statements in the future, you can request them at any point’. And to be sure that the letter reaches Barclays, I sent it by registered post. Twenty days later, I am still waiting…..

Needing to have a printed paper bank statement sent through the post, in order to gain access to my money, when Barclays, several years ago, actively encouraged me to go paperless and rely on online statements, is to say the least, somewhat contradictory. I could use far stronger language! I don’t even know exactly how much is in the account as I was busy spending from it when in the UK in August. But access to online statements was cut off on 27th August when my account was frozen.

There is one further absurdity in this ongoing saga. The debit card for my Barclays account which I was happily using in August when in the UK, expired at the end of that month, at the same time as Barclays were closing my account. But what should appear in my mail box in mid-September? A new debit card for my closed/frozen account! Unfortunately, the letter enclosing it is undated so I cannot use it to prove my address 🙁

2 comments to Brexit, Barclays & HSBC Banks – the second instalment

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    I think Joseph Heller covered this ground in “Catch 22” not to mention Franz Kafka in “The Trial”!? I wish you success in your struggles with the banking industry. Banks seem to have forgotten that they need their customers in order to continue as profitable businesses, I’m sure they will rediscover this truth eventually but not in the near future apparently.
    Good luck Ricky,

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,
      Thank you for your sympathy. Yes, a Catch 22 situation or Kafkaesque, would be accurate descriptions of my ongoing saga. Banks do increasingly seem to be forgetting their customers. They also need to be reminded that the money they hold does not belong to them – it belongs to their customers! Your good wishes are appreciated and I promise a further update in due course.