My article ‘Bye, bye, Barclays’, which you kindly printed last Sunday, has attracted considerable attention.
I have finally received an emailed copy of the letter Barclays allegedly sent to me last August. I did not receive that communication, nor any other notification before my account was shut down.
In his letter, the ‘Head of Service Centre’ (sic) states that the bank has decided to close the accounts of all clients resident in Cyprus who fail to maintain a balance of £100,000. Displaying an unintentional sense of humour, he concludes the letter with the words ‘We are committed to supporting you through this change’.
The bank did not make any effort to follow up their letter to ensure that I was aware of the imminent closure of the account. It seems that other account holders were similarly taken by surprise and given either no, or minimal, notice of the closing date of their account.
In fact, I have yet to meet or hear of anyone who received adequate notice of the closure of their Barclays account. If the reader has a Cyprus residential address, I strongly recommend that he or she contacts the Barclays Helpline.
The Helpline staff are invariably polite and solicitous, but are mostly unaware of the threatened account closures and are poorly informed on the subject. If you are told that your account will not be affected, insist that this assertion is sent to you in writing.
Some readers have initially been told that their accounts are safe, only to be informed later – when they probed further – that this was not in fact the case. Account holders should be highly suspicious of any reassurances if they have less than the requisite £100,000 balance in their accounts.
If no, or very short notice is given of the closure of their account, holders should be aware that Barclays has threatened to levy ‘overdraftfees’ on any funds remaining in the account after the closure date!
Just to clarify this: if you haven’t removed all holdings by the closure date and even if your account is in balance, Barclays may ‘fine’ you as though that balance was actually an overdraft.
The UK Financial Services Ombudsman will support you if you feel that your UK-based bank has mistreated you, even if you are resident abroad. However, before the Ombudsman will intervene on your behalf, you must have submitted a complaint directly to your bank. Retain evidence that you have done so. The bank is obliged by law to respond to you, but has up to eight weeks to do so. The Financial Services Ombudsman has a clear, easy-to-follow website: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm
Many readers may feel that Barclays is behaving irresponsibly and arrogantly. There may be remedies available through the Ombudsman or the courts, although the latter are likely to be expensive.