Moneywise fights for your rights: NHS Dental, Hargreaves Lansdown, HP, Wealthify

If you're having trouble with a company and wish to enlist Moneywise's help, you can email us at fightback@moneywise.co.uk, click here, or write to us, including your name, address and telephone number at: Fightback, Moneywise Publishing, Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London, E1 8AA.

A debt agency is chasing my son for not paying an NHS dental bill

My son had NHS dental treatment on 15 July 2014. He didn’t pay the £50.50 charge because he thought it was free as he was on Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA). He had made a claim for JSA on 14 July, but he didn’t realise that you don’t get paid for the first seven days after making a claim – a genuine error on his part.

In May this year – almost two years later – he received a request from a debt collection agency asking for £200.50, as the debt had now increased due to non-payment. He explained the situation and was told to write to NHS Dental Services to appeal.

He did this on 7 June 2016, but two months have passed and he has received no response. He’s tried phoning but after hanging on for 20 minutes, the phone went dead. When he eventually did get through, he was told that appeals could only be dealt with in writing.

NHS Dental Services has said that it had sent him three letters requesting payment of £50.50. Had he received them, he would have paid this. As my son suffers from mental health issues, which affect his organisational skills, I often check his mail to make sure he opens it, and I don’t recall him receiving any letter about it.

I think it’s not fair to ask for £200.50 when it’s clear to see how the mistake could easily have been made about JSA.

In the meantime, my son has received calls from the debt recovery agency every couple of weeks asking when he will pay up, which he finds unsettling. Please can you help?

PJ/Hertfordshire

When I got in touch with NHS Dental Services, it apologised for the service PJ’s son received when calling its helpline. However, it confirmed that the £200.50 owed has been calculated in line with the NHS Penalty Charge Regulations, rather than being inflated by the debt collection agency. As well as the original £50.50 dental fee, a penalty charge of £100 had been added, along with a further surcharge of £50 after receiving no response to the penalty charge notice after 28 days.

I pointed out that PJ was convinced no letters had arrived and also mentioned the problems his son has with his organisational skills and general mental health. PJ then supplied a letter from his son’s GP confirming this.

NHS Dental Services replied that in certain circumstances the penalty charge and surcharge can be waived and said that, as PJ’s son had not mentioned his mental health issues in his original appeal letter, it would review his case.

A few days later, PJ’s son received a letter to confirm that NHS Dental Services would remove all charges, accepting his evidence on medical grounds.

PJ says: “It’s such a relief to have this sorted – it’s not just the large sum of money involved but the added worry the debt put on my son while he was already feeling low.”

Outcome: £200.50 waived by NHS Dental Services.

My kids have paid £110 to leave Hargreaves Lansdown

I’ve just transferred my children’s trust funds away from Hargreaves Lansdown and have been charged an account closure fee of £55 for each account, which equates to almost 25% of their savings.

When I contacted Hargreaves Lansdown, it said that these fees are listed in its terms and conditions.When I looked at the Ts&Cs, they were eight pages long with three columns of print per page and, to be honest, I didn’t read them. However, in my opinion, even if it’s in the small print it does not make it a fair charge.

I am disappointed that my children will never recoup the £55 each prior to the funds maturing. Even if the accounts were left to mature, any interest gained would be neutralised by these charges. I suspect there are many children who will fall into this nasty trap of charges outweighing any benefits.

JH/Devon

It is tempting to skip reading the terms and conditions when you sign up for accounts – particularly now that so many online services just require a tick to say you’ve read them, even when you haven’t. However, when weighing up investment options, exit fees should always be a consideration.

 

When I contacted Hargreaves Lansdown, it stressed that its account closure charges are detailed in its Ts&Cs and on its website. It said that its fees are based on the administrative costs incurred to close the account, not on the size of the account, but it has agreed to waive them.

A spokesperson said:“Given the disproportionate size of fee compared to the value of these accounts, on this occasion we are happy to waive these closure fees.”

JH says: “I am so pleased that the £110 has been returned as this will make a big difference to my children’s savings. Going forward, I will be reading the small print in relation to financial transactions as this oversight had initially cost my children nearly a quarter of their savings.”

Outcome £110 refund.

My HP laptop is dangerous

I bought an HP laptop in May and I have had no end of problems with it. Sometimes it switches on and sometimes it doesn’t; there is often a strong burning smell coming from it; and it’s literally falling apart – the battery is held in with sticky tape.

What is worse, however, is that while it was charging, my baby daughter touched the adapter and burned her hand. And when I then moved the power adapter, I noticed it had melted my carpet.

I contacted HP in September and was told that my case had been escalated to a senior manager due to the serious nature of the incident and I would be called within a couple of days. It is now a month later and no one has contacted me. I have a laptop sitting here that is unusable and unsafe.

DB/London

When a complaint is as serious as this one, it’s disappointing when so long to respond. But HP did act swiftly once I got in touch.

A spokesperson said: “We to the customer that this situation has taken longer than acceptable to address. We have arranged a product replacement and upgrade for the customer and to collect his current device as soon as possible, which will undergo a full investigation.”

Outcome: £2,321 upgraded replacement laptop.

Wealthify won’t accept my Isas

I’m a Swedish citizen and I’ve worked and paid tax in the UK since 2002.

I have a national insurance number, own a house here and my kids were born in the UK.

However, when I tried to transfer my Isas from Barclays Bank to Wealthify Ltd, I was told that it would only allow investments from British citizens.

Can Wealthify refuse to do business with me because I’m not a UK citizen? It feels like discrimination.

MB/Cambridgeshire

It is surprising to hear that someone who is a taxpayer and even owns a property in the UK should be refused an Isa account.

When I contacted Wealthify, it was very apologetic and explained that the restriction was placed on it by its custodian,Winterflood Business Services. It is Winterflood’s responsibility to undertake customer regulatory reporting and complete its own money-laundering checks. As Wealthify is a relatively new company, Winterflood adopted a phased, risk-based approach to allowing new customers in, so it asked Wealthify to restrict its launch to UK citizens.

A spokesperson for Wealthify said: “Thanks in part to MB’s query, we’ve asked Winterflood to allow us to begin accepting non-UK customers, which we can now do. We have changed our sign- up pages to enable those with foreign citizenship to fill out the online form.

“We’ve been in touch with MB to apologise for the inconvenience and to open his account if he still wishes to hold one. As a gesture of goodwill, we’ve offered him our exclusive discounted annual rate of 0.5% a year for the life of any plans he holds with us.” The rate for accounts up to £15,000 is usually 0.7%.

MB said: “Once Moneywise got in touch with Wealthify, it did make an effort to sort things out. I’ll probably do business with the company in the future.”

Outcome: £30 a year discounted fee for the life of any plan.