Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q I’ve been battling with RBS bank for more than two years about a poor return on a high interest saving account they recommended to me. I calculate I’m only getting one third of the interest the account should be paying. I’m exhausted continuing the fight with their managers. Please help me if you can…
A You told me RBS persuaded you to put your life’s savings into one of their higher interest saving products which guaranteed to pay an annual fixed amount of interest.
You understandably felt let down and annoyed when the product didn’t live up to the bank’s hype. When I waded in RBS told me your application arrived after the cut-off date to open the high interest rate account of your choice. They claim they wrote to you about it at the time, and offered an alternative savings product, which you accepted. You had been disputing this version of events, but nobody from the bank was listening to you. I asked the bank for a copy of the letter they claimed they had written to you with the revised offer. There was a deafening silence.
Undeterred, I contacted them again, only to be told they would get back to me within a few days.
When this promise was broken, I realised something was clearly amiss.
RBS eventually admitted they had not notified you of the late application but someone had mistakenly believed they had and your money had been invested in a different account which paid a significantly lower rate of interest.
You have now received a grovelling apology, a repayment of all the outstanding back interest amounting to over £2,000, and compensation of £500.
Q I’ve read somewhere the cost of getting a divorce could be reduced considerably by hiring a barrister without first having to go through a solicitor. Is this correct, and will it save money?
A It is possible under the new ‘direct access’ scheme to engage a barrister in divorce proceedings and dispense with the services of a solicitor.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances there appears little to be gained from the change in access arrangements.
Legal aid for most family law cases is being curtailed from next April. The jury is out on whether it’ll save you money if you have to pay your own costs.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.