Want to find out about the Great Nationwide Bank Robbery?  It's on the right.  Want to know what's wrong with Nationwide's credit card agreement?  Click the pic.



Note: Nationwide staff, no doubt not wishing to be associated with their employer's policies, have asked their legal department to find some way to prevent their names appearing here (see entry for Monday 15 June below).  Although the legal arguments don't add up, I'm nice.  Their names have been replaced with those of these beautiful animals to protect the incompetent, and appear in this colour. 


There are different types of financial crisis.

There are those collapses of international banking liquidity, from which the generally asset-based and risk-averse Nationwide Building Society has done rather well for itself, along with Abbey National owners Santander.  

Nationwide's CEO Baz and its Chief Economist Marmite make £3m-odd a year between them.  Jealous?  Me?

Then there's those financial crises that occur when you go down to the supermarket in the town where you live, and find you can't buy milk and bread for 2 euros because your Nationwide debit card doesn't work.  

That's my financial crisis today.  And it's Nationwide's fault.

It's a little more complicated when you live in Slovenia.  And when the Nationwide card is your only remaining means of day-to-day payment.  

You have no money in the bank in Slovenia because you cannot make a transfer without the Nationwide card reader.

That has been lost - pointlessly stolen more probably.  And Nationwide won't post you one.  

Because Slovenia - a small, rather excessively civilised country whose postmen are some of the most conscientious-seeming I ever beheld, is on Nationwide's "no-post list", despite being only a Hapsburg's carriage ride away from Austria, described by Marmite as "one of the most stable societies in the world, with crime rates so low that you can leave your car unlocked in most places."

And you have no money anyway because your chances of ever drawing even (even) on your already sagging, excessively nibbled at, and in terms of time-frame battered investments have suddenly and almost conclusively been squished by the great May 6 casino capitalism event.  Thanks, banks. 

Sure I'm an idiot.  Gambling on green tech with borrowed money in a market driven not by a desire to see cleaner energy but by high-frequency trading algorithms, you are down about £16,000 on top of the other £100,000 or so.  You have had to ask your family for money, for the last time.  

Your bills have not been paid.  You are in trouble with a number of creditors, most of whom seem to have quietly accepted the disastrous consequences of their reckless lending, or at least recognise that spending good money chasing after bad isn't a smart move.

Not Nationwide, who have a different strategy.  It involves preventing access to your liquid funds in your current account, then making up a load of rubbish when you ring up about it and generally trying it on in the most bare-faced way.  As if they were more desperate, say, than RBS or Lloyds.  

Nationwide's current account and their credit card have completely separate Terms and Conditions.  

In a moment we shall see how they mixed them up, and made stuff up, in an outrageously mendacious attempt to justify freezing the customer's (and shareholder's) cash.

I had just begun applying for Slovenian welfare payments.  That's about 240 euros a month, I hear. 

The family rescue money arrived in my Flexaccount and as soon as this was more than £300 in credit for the first time in years, Nationwide's debit card stopped working without warning on Friday 21/5/10.  

As the global financial crisis finally came face to face with the potential contents of my stomach, drinkers from all over Slovenia had it out with the riot police before smashing up the Slovenian parliament building in the capital Ljubljana over a plan to reduce their tax-free working hours.  Four euros an hour is good going here on the sunny side of the Alps.

I called Nationwide and after an interminable round of number-entering, interactive voice requests for "something else", human-to-human transfer and of course a complete repeat of the security procedure, I spoke to a nice sounding lady, who went away, again and again, to find the answers to my questions, thanked me kindly for waiting patiently each time she  returned...but couldn't back up anything she had previously said or provide any basis for the freezing of my current account.

At first she couldn't explain why the account was frozen at all.  She went away to ask "special investigations" and after two attempts came back and said the current account was frozen because of owings on the Nationwide Credit Card.  She said KPR were the people to talk to - "our collections team".

So KPR were freezing my account?  And KPR were what?  A different company?  Or part of Nationwide?  She was unclear.  KPR were definitely "our collections team" but not, it seemed, Nationwide.  And KPR stands for?  More mood music, as she went away yet again, but nobody seemed to know.

So how was it that a different company was freezing my current account?  Did they know how much was in the account?  A fog descended.  KPR had "details of the account" - but surely they were employed in connection with the credit card.  Wouldn't telling them the amount on hand in the current account be a breach of the Data Protection Act?  

Sensing this was coming, the call centre lady adlibbed away.  The decision to freeze the Nationwide current account because of the Nationwide credit card debt was Nationwide's, but KPR were the people to talk to about the credit card debt.

But not about my current account, right?  So it seemed.  The nice sounding lady squirmed uncomfortably.  The Unspoken Thing: Nationwide is icing your cash until you speak to their buddies.

But then, I wanted to know, on what legal basis were they freezing the account?  In fact, this was what I had been trying to find out all along, without success.  We know what happens when banks do things wrong, when they don't do things by the book.  

The book in this case would be the British Banking Association's 2008 Banking Code paragraphs 7.6 and 7.7.  Banks won't close your account "under normal circumstances" or because of a complaint.

Or perhaps this has now been replaced by a vaguer, yet less consumer-friendly set of rules.  

The other book would be the FlexAccount Terms and Conditions.  

After a bit more irrelevant chat about talking to KPR, I was able to steer the subject back to what KPR or my credit card debt had to do with the current account. 

It was in the Terms and Conditions, she replied.  Where exactly?  She went away.  A long time later she came back, but had forgotten to find out the answer.  

Finally, and rather unhappily it seemed to me, she announced that paragraph 26 of the FlexAccount T&C was the reason I couldn't pay my water bill or buy anything to eat this weekend.

It says:

If full settlement of any unauthorised borrowing is not made within 28 days from the date we issue a Notice of Formal Demand, we reserve the right to register the account as "defaulting" with one or more licensed credit reference agencies.

Further up was a useful "Meaning of Words and Expressions" section...

“account” means your FlexAccount or Cash Card Account which is either in your own name or held jointly with somebody else;“card” means the card we issue on your account which may be a debit card with a cheque guarantee facility, a cheque guarantee card or a cash card

So "account" doesn't mean credit card account and "card" doesn't mean credit card...and just in case there was any doubt the title of the document is "Current Account Terms and Conditions".

Thus "any unauthorised borrowing" refers to borrowing on an overdraft.

Because that's the only kind of borrowing available on the previously-defined account covered by these Current Account Terms and Conditions.  In fact the phrase "credit card" doesn't appear in them anywhere at all. 

And of course there's nothing whatsoever about them freezing your FlexAccount in these Oct 2007 Nationwide Credit Card Terms and Conditions either.

And guess what?  The T&C from 2006, when I got the card, aren't available online.

In conclusion Nationwide's nice sounding lady could not justify the suspension of the account in any way.  

She was just saying what she was told to say.  She didn't really believe it and nor do I.  Nor could she, or anyone else there on Saturday, undo the restriction.

I logged into my Nationwide internet banking.  The Flexaccount was missing from the screen, my emergency money, only just received, had disappeared.  

Less competent banks than the Nationwide lent me money I could neither afford to borrow, nor afford to refuse, to meet targets.  Targets to lend money.

Their determination to succeed later resulted in my taking out the Nationwide card - in the hope of somehow paying the others back. 

And now here was another bank lady, also working to some target, some statistical animal.  Twisting and turning, loose with the truth, hoping to bamboozle. 

You cannot often reason with an animal.  

And now I would like access to my £1000, so that I can eat, work, think, judge the situation, sell up, liquefy my meagre assets, or go bankrupt, and recover from the mess that British banking brilliance has unleashed upon me.

I informed her:

+++ that I did not intend to be bullied,  blackmailed or starved into calling KPR or anyone else by Nationwide's prevention of access to my own funds

+++ that their apparent confiscation was possibly a police matter

+++ that I expected her complaints department and/or the person who restricted the account to call on Monday 24 May 2010, and not some other company.

The nice sounding lady agreed.


Monday 24 May 2010

With savings and mortgage lending slumped desperate building society Nationwide directed me to their credit card Terms and Conditions showing that they do contain a provision (8e) to nick money from my FlexAccount.

In this way their Lettuce tried to mislead me in one of the ways envisaged by the Office of Fair Trading as threatening to Nationwide's credit licence.

Because these T&C on their website, to which Lettuce directed me, are from May 2009.

Whereas the Terms and Conditions in 2006, when I took out the credit card, don't include the all-important provision for setting off one account against another.

Perhaps I should see the original agreement.  After several hours of music on the phone to Nationwide, Sable offered to transfer me to KPR.  "They have all the information there" about credit agreements, she said.

Silkie of KPR was confident that there would be a valid credit card agreement under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, signed by me.

Meanwhile Sky at Nationwide's Lincoln branch said that she would ring back that day about that original credit card agreement. 

Silkie rang back to say that the agreement was on its way.  It would be a scan of the original agreement, not a "reconstituted" agreement, as permitted following the recent extraordinary judgment of Judge David Waksman in favour of identity theft, a finding which seems to have been the last nail in the coffin for claims handling companies.

In the case of an amended agreement the lender should provide copies of both the original and amended agreements, Judge Waksman ruled.

Nationwide and KPR staff were unanimous on one point: they didn't want £1, or an application in writing, to which they are entitled under the s78(1) of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for providing copies of any credit agreement.

Dinner: egg, chips and beans.


Tuesday 25 May 2010

When an organisation just doesn't seem to know what it's doing, and can't even use its own language, would it be unreasonable to assume they are just idiots and ignore them?

A letter arrives from KPR Debt Collection.  I must call Fern, Senior Debt Negotiator, within ten days, with an acceptable offer to repay the "overdrawn balance". 

Dated eleven days ago, it explains that if I don't call within ten days KPR will "refer your account to a debt collection agency".

So KPR Debt Collection is no good then?  No.  Small print at the bottom suggests an explanation for their uselessness as debt collectors.

"KPR Debt Collection is a business name of Nationwide Building Society, whose principle office is at Nationwide House..."

So that's it then.  They're too principled.

Meanwhile the lovely Sky rang to say the Agreements were on their way, by post, because the information was too sensitive to be sent by email.

Naturally I asked why this could be mailed to the postally dangerous territory of Slovenia - when the card reader for online payments (see above) could not.

She had no idea what the problem was. Agreeing it was more likely to be nicked at the sorting office in Lincoln than in Europe, she displayed a presumably dangerous degree of initiative by volunteering to send me the gizmo. 

This is exciting.  Which will happen first?

Will it be June 3, when KPR say they will rob the account that presently doesn't exist? 

Or will the postman deliver the Agreements which they say validate their reasons for robbing it?

Or, for non-use with the suspended/emptied FlexAccount, will the security device that they couldn't post to Slovenia for security reasons arrive?

Actually racist reasons.  Else what?

Dinner: Beans on cheese on toast, with seaweed flakes.


Wednesday 26 May 2010

Dinner: fish fingers and chips.


Thursday 27 May 2010

Dinner: pork chop curry.


Friday 28 May 2010

Dinner: pork chop curry and rice.


Saturday 29 May 2010

Dinner: yet more pork chop curry and rice.


Sunday 30 May 2010

Dinner: my first and last ever Slovenian vegeburger.  Reminds me of those shoe repair kits.  With mashed potatoes.  Also some kind of Slovenian muesli, which tastes like cardboard and appears to contain polystyrene granules.


Bank Holiday Monday 31 May 2010

Two letters arrive in Ptuj from Nationwide. 

One from Swindon (872 miles as the crow flies) dated 20 May (with undated postmark) warns me they are going to be freezing my FlexAccount and emptying out the money in 14 days.  

It's dated so long ago that this will be this Thursday.

The other is from Nationwide in Lincoln (distance 867 miles) and contains FlexAccount Terms and Conditions of uncertain vintage.  Para. 11 says:

Under normal circumstances we will not close your account without giving you at least 30 days notice.

Para. 32 reveals that:

We may vary these conditions or the interest rates by telling you.  We will do this by sending details about changes either in writing, or by display in branches, or by advertisement, or by secure message, or notice within the Internet Bank.  We will give you 30 days notice before any change to these conditions takes effect unless it is not practical to do so, in which case we will tell as soon as we can after the changes take effect.

And adds a "personal" note:

If a change to these conditions is to your disadvantage we will tell you about it personally at least 30 days before we make the change.

Really?  Nothing about credit cards or setting-off in these T&C of course.

This one is postmarked May 24.  Of course Lincoln is further away than Swindon really, as letters are not delivered by a crow.  

Now which do you think happened?  

Did it take another four days for the  crow to fly the other five miles?  

Or did Acorn, Team Manager of Unsecured Debt Recovery - rare email address here - backdate her letter to 20 May, the day before the account was frozen?  Or just forget to post it?

Para. 11...30 days?  

I make that 21 April, not 20 May.  

21 minus 20 is 1 day.  Not 30 days.

I cannot recommend opening the attachment in automated replies from the above email on your own computer.  Go to the library.

www.bank.si was not on holiday today.

Dinner: enhanced pizza and mash.


Tuesday 8 June 2010

Nationwide's security device - which cannot be posted to Slovenia for security reasons - arrives in the post.


Thursday 10 June 2010

Due to lack of available cash to provide liquidity, I was unable to defend positions in solar energy, telephony and construction companies, losing all the remaining £8736.

At least Nationwide, who took away the cash that could have saved them, will be OK.


Monday 15 June 2010

A threatening letter arrives from Nationwide Member Relations Manager Conker, quoting European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.

Instead of just giving me my money back and writing off the unenforceable credit, the lawyers' idea is to make a formal complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner and my ISP for naming members of its staff on this page.

The letter suggests there might be something defamatory about naming Nationwide workers and reporting what Acorn, Conker, Fern, Lettuce, Sable, Silkie and Sky have said. 

Er, no.  The defences of fair comment and reportage apply. 

The statements made about the named individuals are true, and contain no personal information other than their names. 

Specifically I have not revealed anything about their racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, health or sex life (Article 8 paragraph 1).

Moreover the "processing" relates to data which are manifestly made public by the data subject (they sign their letters) and is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims (Article 8 paragraph 2e).

Dear desperate lawyers, I am not "processing their data".  Their data is less processed than the cheese on your Nationwide canteen's burger because the thing about this "data" is that I don't really have any. 

Nationwide's legal team don't have a point.  In contrast, Nationwide are openly discussing the medical problems of complete strangers here.

Problems such as groin strain and bad ankles in the employees of outside organisations are surely no business of Nationwide and the Information Commissioner has been informed.

However I see that Nationwide's employees are not responsible for their actions.  

In a conciliatory gesture I have replaced their names on this website with some of the names of these donkeys