In early 2021, Charlotte contacted her lender because payments she had made to them had not been applied to her card account. The lender investigated the payments and located them, two $100 payments, in another customer’s account. The lender then transferred the payments to Charlotte’s account.
Charlotte’s payments had been applied to the other customer’s account because Charlotte had used the wrong reference details on her payments. The lender told Charlotte what reference details she needed to use so that her payments would be automatically applied to her account. This information was also on Charlotte’s monthly account statements.
Charlotte did not change the reference details. She continued to make regular $100 payments to the lender with the wrong reference details. This continued until mid-2022 when Charlotte telephoned the lender because her $100 payments were not showing on her card account.
Charlotte said the lender told her a $100 deposit went into her card account and it was then withdrawn. The lender’s file note about the telephone call did not support that Charlotte was given this information. The file note supported that the staff member had not been able to locate the payments.
After the telephone call, Charlotte emailed the lender further information about her missing payments. The lender then located the payments. The lender informed Charlotte that her payments were in their suspense account. The lender subsequently clarified that the payments were found in another customer’s account and were then transferred to the suspense account.
The payments were transferred to Charlotte’s card account, which cleared her debt, and the balance was refunded to Charlotte’s bank account.
Charlotte was not satisfied with the way the lender had handled the matter. She had not been given a detailed explanation of what happened or an apology.
The lender tried to resolve the complaint with Charlotte but she no longer wanted to communicate with them. FSCL passed on the lender’s response to Charlotte, which included a goodwill offer of $300. Charlotte declined the offer. She wanted FSCL to investigate her complaint.
The lender said Charlotte’s payments had not been automatically applied to her account because of the reference details she had used on her payments.
Charlotte believed the lender’s conduct was fraudulent. She believed, based on her telephone call with the lender about the missing payments, that her $100 payments had been going into her account, and that the lender had transferred the payments out of her account and put them in their suspense account.
We concluded that Charlotte’s payments had not been automatically applied to her card account because she did not use the reference details the lender had asked her to use.
The lender was not responsible for Charlotte’s mistake with the reference details. The lender had told Charlotte what reference details to use. Further, the lender was unaware of the payments until Charlotte contacted them in mid-2022. Charlotte had been making a separate regular payment to her card account (with the correct reference details) so the lender had no reason to contact Charlotte about payments to her account.
There was no evidence of fraud. We reviewed the transactions on Charlotte’s card account. The $100 payments had not been automatically deposited to Charlotte’s account, and there had been no $100 withdrawals from her account. There was also no evidence to support that the lender had given Charlotte wrong information about the payments during the mid-2022 telephone call.
We concluded that Charlotte should accept the lender’s goodwill offer, which they increased to $500. Charlotte did not agree with our views, but she decided to accept the offer.
Insights for consumers
It is important that consumers regularly check their account statements and inform their lender or card provider as soon as possible of any concerns the consumer has with their account, such as a missing repayment.