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ASK TONY: NS&I wouldn’t help me trace £80 of Premium Bonds bought in 1977 despite the fact I’d just invested £25,000 with them

I have been trying to trace £80 worth of old Premium Bonds bought in my name between 1977 and 1985.

The background to this is that I bought £25,000 worth of bonds in September 2016 and asked for the old bonds to be linked to these.

I wrote to National Savings & Investments on February 11, 2017, when I realised this had not happened, but received no reply.

I wrote again on March 2 and have been trying since then to get the matter resolved, but without success.

Mrs C. S., Cambridgeshire.

Ignored: NS&I didn’t want to know about one reader’s missing premium bonds despite them having just made a £25,000 investment

The service you received from NS&I has been well below par. You were asked to provide more information including the numbers of all of the bonds that were missing.

You provided this and received, in return, a bizarre letter telling you that the bonds were not registered in your name, and that ‘I am unable to confirm the identity of the bondholder due to our obligation to customer confidentiality’.

It seems that you had fallen foul of data protection laws, and NS&I was endeavouring to make sure bonds were not discussed with anyone other than the holder.

But before sending this letter, NS&I should have been hearing alarm bells because you had provided enough information to confirm that you were the holder of the bonds. So what went wrong?

NS&I’s investigation found that your missing £80 worth of Premium Bonds had been amalgamated onto another customer’s Premium Bond holding in error.

The good news is that the bonds are now being removed from the incorrect holding and placed into yours. Once this has been completed, they will examine whether you should have won any prizes in the time they have been in the wrong holding.

Any winnings will be paid directly into your nominated bank account, and you will receive a detailed breakdown.

A spokesman says: ‘We are very sorry for the poor experience your reader had when trying to find out what happened to her old bonds.’

NS&I says it aims to provide a high standard of service but admits: ‘We have clearly not provided the standard she deserves on several occasions.’ In recognition, it has made a goodwill payment of £100.

Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some from our story about how bungling power firm Extra Energy has been chasing customers using debt collectors for money they don’t owe…

The regulators have only ever paid lip service to the rules on harassment and debt collection. Ordinary people do not have the money to afford to use the courts, and those falsely accused of debts are routinely deprived of their rights under the law.

B.N., Oldham.

This is a perfect illustration of why most people don’t, and won’t, switch suppliers. Why should I waste my time with all of this bureaucracy just to get good value utilities? It’s time to bring back the gas, electricity and water boards.

R.M., Kent.

I have had endless problems with almost all of the power companies. I think it’s because they really don’t care. Their main business is making demands for money.

B.R., Stockton-on-Tees.

The last time I moved house I remember three months later receiving a bill from the gas company for my old property.

The reason for sending me the bill? The new owner would not respond to their inquiries. I happily gave them the new owner’s name and I never heard about this again.

R.C., Clacton-on-Sea.

The only way to make sure your meter readings are honoured is to supply photos with dates on. No argument then.

D.M., Sidmouth, Devon.

It is shameful that an energy company can set a debt collection agency on you without ever having to prove you really owe the money. Only a court should have the power to do this.

R.M., Manchester.

Last September, my sister, aged 77, was admitted to hospital and remained there for 16 weeks. After returning home, she had to go back to hospital for a further three weeks.

During her stay, I took over her affairs and came across a bill from mail-order firm J D Williams charging what I thought to be an unacceptable interest rate. I decided to pay the £28.23 balance in full and close the account.

Despite this, we have received letters from J D Williams asking for payment. They have ignored correspondence including receipts from my Nationwide bank account.

And recently, they also appear to have added a penalty fee for every missed payment, regardless of the fact that I have cleared the account. I am 85.

B. W., Middlesex.

The documents you sent me were clear. A statement sent by J D Williams on October 27, 2016, showed a balance of £28.23 owing. You paid this on November 8, but it does not appear to have been credited to your sister’s account.

Your letters to J D Williams elicited no response and the demands for payment continued to rise. J D Williams finally tackled and resolved your case in June.

You told me: ‘It’s amazing that I have written some 17 letters and not had a reply until now. Having been threatened with bailiffs and legal action, I was concerned they would turn up at my sister’s home when she was alone.’

JD Williams says it has tried to contact you with the outcome but you are not accepting calls from withheld numbers — I don’t blame you.

A follow-up email has been sent, which you have received, but I feel that JD Williams should have taken your age into account and used the good old postal service from the start — just as they did when sending out bill demands.

My wife, who sadly passed away from cancer in 1991, used to work for Sun Life of Canada, based in Trafalgar Square, London.

When I asked the company about her pension, and if and when I would receive it, they said that it had been deferred.

What does this mean?

Is it possible for you to find out for me, and let me know what I have to do to receive any monies that are due from her pension.

P. L., London.

I contacted the trustees of the pension scheme who told me that your wife worked for Sun Life of Canada from 1977 to 1987 at its UK headquarters in Trafalgar Square, London.

During her employment, she was a member of the company’s non-contributory pension scheme. When she left that job, your wife would have received a paid-up pension entitlement.

The term deferred meant that although she was no longer employed, her benefits remained in place to be drawn when she reached retirement age.

But, unfortunately, the scheme rules at the time of her death were that a spouse’s pension was only payable if the member had taken their benefits (i.e. retired) prior to death.

The trustees say that, regrettably, there is nothing outstanding due to you as your late wife could not have taken benefits prior to her death in 1991.