Two-month wait to get my own holiday money

Alan Abbot with the Post Office card
Alan Abbot with the Post Office card
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Furious reader Alan Abbott was given a two-month runaround by the Post Office after he tried to recover an unused cash balance on a travel money card.

In September 2013 Alan and his wife Sandra, from Gosport, decided they’d reward themselves with the holiday of a lifetime in Memphis and Nashville.

Not wanting to be carrying wads of cash around, they plumped for what they believed to be the ideal solution. A Post Office sterling pre-loadable MasterCard denominated in US dollars.

All went well and the card performed just like the Post Office claimed it would in their advertising blurb.

But things turned sour shortly before they were due to fly home when Alan’s repeated attempts to use up a $100 cash balance on his card were all declined.

The 51-year-old self-employed meat trader, promptly put it out of mind, but was completely unprepared for the frustration and bureaucratic muddle he would be put through when he finally decided to redeem the money.

He said: ‘We thought possibly we’d go on holiday again after that one but circumstances changed and we decided not to.

‘The money had been left on the card for the best part of a year so I decided as we weren’t going back in the near future I’d just as well cash it in.

‘I was told you just took the card to your local post office, hand it over the counter, or put it on a cash machine in the branch, and cash it in.

‘But when I went to the local post office I was told I’d have to ring customer services.

‘They said an email or letter would be sent to me, releasing the funds. This should be taken to my post office with formal ID and I could then withdraw my money. It could take up to 28 working days.’

He waited until the end of January, but still no sign of the promised release letter in his email in box, so he rang customer services again.

‘I asked when it was sent and was told sometime in the past 20 days – very helpful – not. I asked for proof of sending and was told this was not possible. Eventually it was agreed to issue another release, but only after the previous one had been cancelled. This would take up to another 28 days.’

A week later Alan called again to check on progress. To his annoyance and frustration all he learned was the matter was being processed.

Insisting on making a formal complaint, another week went by before a letter arrived from customer services confirming their records indicated he should have received the email release at the end of January.

Yet another week passed with no news but frustration gave way to anger when a call centre operative revealed their records indicated he’d chosen to receive the long-awaited release letter by text, not email.

After being kept on hold for several minutes Alan thought he’d got the reassurance he’d been after for the last six weeks. He could expect to receive the elusive email within a couple of days. Elated, he thought the breakthrough had arrived at last.

But once again his hopes were dashed when a few days later it still didn’t turn up. Instead an exasperated Alan contacted Streetwise to see if we could help sort out the long running Post Office holiday card farce.

Within an hour of making contact about Alan’s complaint the Post Office sprang into action.

Customer services finally agreed to transfer the money to his bank account within three days, and offered £50 compensation for all the aggravation he’d been put through.

A relieved Alan said: ‘Until you stepped in I might just as well have been talking to the telly as far as they were concerned. I wouldn’t bother with one of these cards again. To redeem any money left on the card is just a joke.’

Streetwise invited the Post Office to comment, but they failed to respond to our request.