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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Credit Card Blocked Without Notice: Red Face In Queue: Compensation?

I've had to work hard to secure £50 compensation from Partnership Card (and they didn't enter me for a prize draw) for blocking my credit card when I say ' To hell with your terms and conditions. You were wrong!' Here's my exchange. I've edited Partnership's correspondence. More apologies and 'You can go to the Ombudsman' stuff omitted.

Me to Partnership Card on 25 April 2018           
' ....
On 19 April 2018 I received your statement for my account dated 15 April 2018. It showed that no payment had been credited for the immediately preceding month. In fact, I had given instructions to my bankers First Direct on 23 March 2018 to pay the full account debit balance before the due date. I immediately contacted First Direct who accepted that it had failed to implement those instructions and agreed to refund to me the interest charge and default fee you had debited to the account.* I gave instructions for payment of the full debit balance under the latest statement which you should now have received.
On 21 April 2018 I presented my Partnership card twice at Waitrose and once at another retail outlet to pay for transactions but suffered the public embarrassment and inconvenience of ‘declines’ on each occasion. I immediately telephoned you to enquire why this had happened and was informed that there had been a block on the card because of the non-payment of the minimum sum required under the March 2018 statement and that it was standard practice to impose this block when the next statement was issued.
On 23 April 2018 I received your letter dated 14 April 2018 which was presumably in standard terms relating to an overdue payment of £28.82.
In neither the 15 April 2018 statement nor the subsequently received 14 April 2018 letter was I informed that my card would be blocked. It may be that your standard terms and conditions permit blockage in the circumstances. That is not the point. Custom and practice and fairness of banking conduct demanded that I should have received advance notice of blockage. In fact, the 15 April 2108 statement informed me that all I was required to do was to pay the minimum amount by 10 May 2018.
Given the length of time I have been your customer and the conduct of my account to date, I am appalled at your conduct and require you to put forward a proposal to compensate me for embarrassment, inconvenience and wastage of time in dealing with this matter that you have caused me. I acknowledge that First Direct’s failure is a matter between me and them.
I do not wish to discuss this matter by telephone. Please write.'

Partnership Card to me on 3 May 2018
'Thank you for your recent correspondence informing us of your concerns....Unfortunately, due to the non-payment of your statement balance in March a temporary block was placed on your account as the statement balance was overdue.
I would like to advise you that when an account becomes overdue it is automatically referred to our Collections Department. Please be assured we aim to contact our customer at the earliest opportunity, in order to establish whether an oversight with the payment has occurred, irrespective of the amount. I do apologise if you did not receive notification in this instance.
If the full payment is not received by the due date, our system will automatically apply a late fee payment and/or an interest charge as this is part of the terms and conditions of your account.
Upon reviewing your account I can confirm that the block has since been removed and you are able to make successful transactions.
May I once again apologise for any inconvenience you have been caused.'

Me to Partnership Card on 10 May 2018
'I have your grudging letter dated 03 May 2018 and received today, seven days later. It is a pity that you do not cause your post to be delivered as promptly as you apply a temporary block.  You emerge from your pre-complaint conduct and your response to my complaint (the latter compounding the former) as an unfriendly financial institution which gives not a fig for the inconvenience and embarrassment it causes to its customers.  I shall seriously consider closing my account with you.
You do not have the decency to make an unconditional apology. Your apology is qualified. You state that ‘if’ I did not receive advance notice of the temporary block then you apologise ‘in this instance’. You know I did not receive advance notice because I told you so and your computer records would confirm that to be the case. Custom, practice and fairness (as I have already stated) demanded that you should have given me advance notice. That was a serious failure on your part. Further, notwithstanding your terms and conditions, you should not have elected in this instance to rely on them, given that the minimum payment in arrear was a modest £28.88 as against a credit limit of £9,300 and given the length of time I have been your customer and the conduct of my account over this period. Your decision to block represented a failure to exercise your discretion on rational grounds or otherwise in a fair manner.
You chose to totally ignore the fact the notification you did give to me by letter dated 14 April 2018 failed to warn of the intention to block and merely called for me to pay £28.82. You further chose to ignore my request for your compensation proposal, presumably because you are too stingy to put one forward unless forced to do so.
I call on you to deal with my complaint in a proper manner and not to close your eyes to your dereliction of duty. If you fail to do this within the next seven days, I shall refer my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.'

Partnership Card to me on 31 May 2018
Thank you for your letter dated 10 May 2018. I am sorry it has taken longer than anticipated to get back to you with a response regarding your ongoing concerns.
I am sorry if you felt my letter dated 7 May 2018 did not take account the inconvenience and embarrassment caused when your Partnership Card was recently declined.
I acknowledge your dissatisfaction with the level of service you have received, and the approach we have taken in handling the matter . It is evident from your comments we have failed to meet with your expectations.
I sincerely apologise for the negative customer experience you have had with us. I have noted that as a customer of 14 years you have not been treated in an acceptable manner and I understand your dissatisfaction with the way this matter has been dealt with.
I have noted your comments with regards to compensation for what has been a very trying and testing time and I do apologise for not dealing with this in my initial response. It was never my intention to cause you further frustration or inconvenience.
As a gesture of goodwill and in the interest of customer relations I have today applied £50.00 credit adjustment to your next monthly statement.


* In response to my request to First Direct for compensation (not, I hasten to add, for the same inconvenience etc covered in my Partnership Card complaint) the bank now says it has made checks and it was not to blame. I could not have successfully confirmed my instructions to it,  they say. The interest charge and default fee imposed by Partnership Card have still been reimbursed to me by First Direct. To be continued!