Consumer complains after bank closes her account instead of twin sister's

Banking Distress and inconvenience Up to £300

Geraldine came to us after her bank had mistakenly closed her bank account instead of her twin sister's.

What happened

Geraldine got in touch with her bank when it closed her current account by mistake after confusing it with her twin sister’s – who had the same initial, surname, date of birth and lived at the same address. 

The bank accepted eventually that it had made a mistake and reinstated the account, along with all of Geraldine’s direct debit and standing order instructions, within a week of it being closed.  Fortunately, Geraldine had access to money from elsewhere, so it didn’t affect anything she wanted to do during that time. But whilst the account was closed, a few of her regular monthly payments should’ve gone out.  So, she had to call the intended recipients and make alternative arrangements to pay what she owed. She said she felt quite embarrassed about having to do this.

Geraldine told the bank she’d spent some time and effort putting things right, and it offered her £50 in recognition of its mistake and for any inconvenience Geraldine had been caused.  But Geraldine didn’t think that was enough, so asked us to help.

What we said

We listened to the call Geraldine had with the bank when she first called, and it hadn’t immediately got to grips with the problem.  It had difficulty understanding how Geraldine’s account had been confused with her sister’s, given they had different account numbers, and initially tried to blame Geraldine and/or her sister for the mistake. It kept Geraldine on hold for some time while looking into the problem, rather than offering to call her back.  And it was obvious, from what Geraldine said, that she was finding the whole situation distressing. Geraldine spent over two hours on the phone with the bank.

Also, the bank hadn’t really explored how much time Geraldine had spent sorting things out.  But she gave us copies of her phone bills which showed she’d spent the best part of a day calling various companies to ensure scheduled payments were made on time. 

Having considered everything, we thought the mistakes made by the bank had caused Geraldine some distress and embarrassment. They had also caused her inconvenience by having to spend time trying to sort everything out. We thought more compensation should be paid to recognise the impact and increased the award to £300.