Sunday, 20 July 2008

Today's angry letter.

I was sorting paperwork yesterday and started to divide my tasks, placing the paperwork pertaining to each task in a separate clear plastic folder.

There is the letter to Lloyds Bank, who not only charged me for non payment of a monthly standing order I had cancelled two months previously (they must have been presented with a request for payment) but also told me twice on the phone that I am not me as I failed to answer all their security questions correctly.
A letter to the manager at my branch elicited a proforma letter from a central complaints department saying they will respond within four, then eight weeks. Meanwhile I cannot phone my bank.

Then there is the letter to NPower who presented an electricity direct debit for £79 when they had agreed that £53 was an adequate payment. I am waiting for them to refund the £63 charges I incurred as a result of the resultant unauthorised exceeding of my overdraft (very closely watched as you can imagine!)

I am ignoring the TV people for now

Then there is the housing association that runs my estate, who in spite of my paying service charges (lighting, cleaning of paths etc) still write to the woman who owned the house four years ago.

My current bug is however, the Tax Credit people, who want £986.20 paid back to them. I don't owe it to them, but they have now sent me four bills of differing sums with no indication of how they worked out my debt to them. I stopped claiming in 2006 as it seemed pointless and complicated. I don't dare claim Tax Credit even though doing the Tax Credit Calculator suggests I am entitled to over £3k a year from them (filled it out today just to see).

So I have written a number of angry and enquiring letters, copied the bills and sent them back to the Tax Credit people with copies to David Cameron, David Heath (my MP), Nick Clegg and this last, copied below, to Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown
House of Commons

Dear Mr Brown

I am copying you my enquiry to the Tax Credit Debt Recovery Department. I thought you may be interested in how the Tax Credit system “helps” self employed mums
trying to stay off benefits.

It is hardly seems worth the trouble of working and training hard when I live around large happy families who all sign on. Perhaps I should give up working, have some IVF, put on 6 disabling stone, and spend my late 40s and 50s bringing up triplets?

I hope you find it enlightening, just how these things work in the real world. If you wonder about my demographic I am middle class white professional owner occupier of ex housing association property, mother of one.

I cannot afford the tax you are charging me, especially when you are going to spend it on legal challenges to Freedom of Information requests about MP’s expenses, or incredible six figure bonuses for heads of department who have lost my personal data, (when they should in fact have resigned on the spot, relinquishing pension rights.)

Yours sincerely



killemallletgodsortemout said...

How very disappointing, Lilith.

I would have thought that the phrase "you scotch cunt" would have appeared at leat once in the letter.

I've been doing battle for three years with the gas board (or whatever it's called these days). A change from business rate to domestic rate meant a rebate and a VAT payback - somewhere in the region of £700.

You would not believe the hoops we are having to go through to get OUR money back.

Thieving bastards.

lilith said...

Thieving bastards is right Killem. A week does not pass when I have to attempt to right a wrong perpetrated by someone who has access to, or governance of, my bank accounts. Where can I pay cash for my leccy?

lilith said...

And I don't mean 35% more expensive leccy because I want to pay with cash....

lilith said...

Anyway, Killem, I didn't call him a "scotch cunt" because I am saving that one.

Trubes said...

Go Lilith... go girl go....
I'm still trying to retrieve a late payment fee charged by my credit card company. I posted two separate cheques to two different credit card companies on the same date. One was received the next day and the account was duly cleared. The outstanding one , according to their records wasn't received until a week later. Why ?
As I pointed out to them I have no control overthe Postal Services or, rather, lack of them!
I was more or less told ....Tough s..t..
I don't know what else I can do.

I wish you luck Lilith in your battles...It's us against them!

Robbing Bastards!


Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...

Lils - well done that Girl!

No doubt all the little individuals dealing with your justified complaints are taking it in turns to be off sick with 'stress'.

Brown won't answer anyway, as he is on a BBC sposored trip as far away as possible from the place that actually pays him to work for us...

lilith said...

They are all off with stress Scrobs. It's why you had trouble in Bath...they have 3 planning officers and there is always one off sick and one on holiday. I shall be off with stress soon. The stress of administrating my life.

lilith said...

Trubes, it was a lot ruder. I have calmed it down. I haven't even mentioned my experience of the new streamlined choose and book NHS appointments system either..

Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...


Planners are worse than most - especially as they are unable to understand that every day they hold up developments, the interest charges continue to mount up!

Of course, the government has been in control of housing supply for years, though these miserably staffed departments. That's also why they create 'targets' for numbers of homes to be built, then constipate the issues to such an extent that nothing ever happens.

It's even more of a disgrace for them now, as perfectly good house developers like Kier Homes, are shutting five of their six offices!

Brown and his awful bunch of inadequates have effectively ground the housing market down themselves by destroying entrepreneurship, and now interest rates.

You and I are still going to have to pay for Northern Rock though...

lilith said...

Yes, Scroblene, it is a scandal. You must feel like you are sweeping water uphill at times.

I got alarmed today when I was alerted to the fact that all new developments seem to be happening in market towns, and not in the outlying villages, where post offices, pubs, schools are closing because nobody but the rich retired can afford to live there. Meanwhile the charming market town struggles with the weight of traffic, demand on services and schools and the next industrial estate is built. We now have 3 in Frome. Then there are the acres of flats thrown up overnight which cost more than my house to buy and therefore lay empty.

lilith said...

I shall pay for Northern Rock as slowly as I can manage to.

lilith said...

Does Brown plan to get Iraqi interpreters to build the 3 million homes he keeps wittering on about, when we have no constructions firms of our own left?

Anonymous said...

Lil - good stuff; keep at 'em!

Sometimes blunt letters which contain words of not more than three syllables can be effective.

I have been having a punch up with my bank over something they should have done and didn't. I went through the first round - civil letter asking for them to get on with it - and in reply got the autoprompt "We'll reply in four weeks; valued customer; we always aim to please....etc." Then nothing within the stated period.

So I wrote again, this time slightly sharper demanding to know why they had not done what they had undertaken to do. This elicited a response, not from the branch manager, but from the Head Office Official Complaints Department (located in a completely different part of the country) which told me again that they were "looking into" my "complaint" and would respond within 8 weeks. So now here we are nearly 4 months later and one further reminder from me... and guess what?? Yesterday I received a missive from the Head of Official Complaints agreeing that the bank had cocked up and in compensation had not only rectified their errors but had also awarded me an ex-gratia payment sufficient to buy a round of ales in the local hostelry for maybe me and three friends.

In this day and age of incompetence, computer foul-ups and general uselessness in the "service" industries, I consider that a result.

So, nil carborundum, as we used to say - go get 'em. We are all rooting for you. And we are all eagerly looking forward to seeing the letter you receive from himself once he gets back from waving his willy in the sand.

Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...

Lils - he's solved the problem with getting the Olympics in on time - all the poor subbies and builders will be flocking there as there's nowhere else to go.

Some solution that...

lilith said...

Well done GG! That is indeed a result. It is so disturbing getting those "we will respond to you in 8 weeks" letters, isn't it? "Meanwhile we will ransack your account and there is nothing you can do about it"

The NHS Out Patient appointment has been fun so far too.

1. Go to doctor with symptoms

2. Doctor advises investigation and gives me two bits of paper, one with a password on it and a few phone numbers.

3. Doctor explains I must call the number and give my password, but not for 3 days.

4. A week later I realise I have lost the form

5. Order new form from doctor's secretary.

6. Find original form

7. Phone "Appointments Line" and give hundreds of personal details.

8. Appointment Line operative thanks me and tells me the clinic will get in touch by letter.

9. Receive a letter from Somerset Primary Care trust headed "Reducing Waiting times in Somerset". It contains no info about my appointment but confirms what has so far happened from 1 to 8.

10. Receive a letter from the clinic inviting me to call them for an appointment.

11. Call to book appointment, give personal details so information can be sent to me.

12. Contrary to the Choose and Book title of this system I was only allowed to book my appointment, and there was no choice ie. I could have an appointment to coincide with the maximum loss of working hours.

Someone put me straight, but in the old days, didn't your GP refer you to a consultant whose secretary sent you an appointment?

I am glad it's not an investigation for dementia...

Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...

Lils - on a lighter note, check this out...

Best flavour anyone?

lilith said...

Of Course Scrobs! They'll have the stadium up in record time...

lilith said...

The Mexican Scrobs, :-)

Trubes said...

Good God:
Just why should so many normally, rational and intelligent people be so angry?

Just when did the customer stop being 'always right'?

Answer...Round about 1997!

Ed said...

still write to the woman who owned the house four years ago

It took me a year of rude letters to get the council (who own my freehold) to notice that the couple who bought my flat from them moved out in 1998.

The other day they sent me a nice statement showing that I was £250 in credit on my service charges so I filled in a form to get that money back. They replied with another letter saying whoops I was actually £135 in arrears.

Anonymous said...

The tax credits system is like the jobseekers system a mad unaccountable system. Last year they sent me a letter saying they were going to pay me 3,800 which I knew they should not. So I rang them straight away and said dont do that. The next day I was 3,800 minus what was in my account overdrawn... as they clawed back what they had not paid.. I phoned my MP and it turns out that MPs have a special tax credits hotline which they can use in these circs...

I am also at war with the Halifax the worlds most usless greedy and useless bank (No wonder the HBOS call for financing failed as they are crooks) and I have actually reported them to the Police for harrassment...

lilith said...

Ah yes Mutley, the Halifax. I got a phone call from a man at 8.45pm one evening who wanted to talk to me about their credit cheques. When I told him he sounded as if he was in a pub and no bank would call at 8.45pm he protested that they work till nine. When I refused to give him my date of birth he told me snottily that this matter would have to be dealt with by letter. A few days later I recieved a letter from my Halifax credit card account pointing out that my balance was zero.

lilith said...

Blue Eyez they make it up as they go along...I have written a stiff letter, but I have also set up a file, which demonstrates the depth my faith that this will be settled presently.

lilith said...

No Trubes. The customer is not allowed phone or mail contact with his/her own bank branch, let alone to be right..

Anonymous said...

The Halifax once called and suggested to me that I should use a different credit card to pay off their debt!! A breach of the banking code - another time one of their mad people asked if I could borrow some money to pay them from a neighbour! But because of the current economic climate and their huge unsecured loans in the UK they are instructed at the moment to accept any payment however small which keeps the debt alive...

Daisy said...

lilith i am sorry you are having these issues at the moment...and you will not like what i have to need to sit back and take stock...figure out what is really going on here and leave the anger in the bathroom for a moment...seems every time i get in these situations there is something i am suppose to be looking at closer...figure it out and change it, correct it, whatever you need to do to show you have learned this lesson and don't need to do it again...easier said than done, i understand that, but just take a breather from all of it (specifically the anger) and you will figure it out...much love to you...

lilith said...

There is no doubt about that Daisy. What I should be looking into to avoid all these problems is going into the black economy and not bothering with tax, banks and houses. Just live in a yurt on some common land somewhere. No more need to deal with these thieves.

How do you deal with a bank that keeps trying to give your money to anyone who asks for it, and fine you because the money wasn't in your account? I keep a very close eye on my bank accounts to try and prevent such disasters but you can't second guess that your bank will reinstate a cancelled standing order on the say so of the payee, not the account holder...

Tuscan Tony said... which he replied "..but they vote for me and you do not, and therefore as their leader I must indulge them financially"

Well done you.

fuchsia groan said...

Oh dear Lilith. You do realise this qualifies you for one of Gordon's 3.00am phone calls? A good time to employ the 'scotch cunt' phrase. I think.

lilith said...

Thanks TT.

Fuchsia I will look forward to that!

Old Holborn said...

Dear Sir

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three 'nanoseconds' must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement, which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1 - To make an appointment to see me.
2 - To query a missing payment.
3 - To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4 - To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5 - To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6 - To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7 - To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorised Contact.)
8 - To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through to 8.
9 - To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

lilith said...

That is Fabulous OH! A masterwork. May I use it as a template?