AIB credit card comes back from the grave to haunt reader

Stopping payments from a closed credit card account may be harder than you think

How hard is it to stop payments from a credit card account? Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

How hard is it to stop payments from a credit card account? Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A reader by the name of Matt got in touch after an AIB credit card he thought he had seen the back of came back to haunt him.

Last February Matt paid off the €11,308.15 balance with the help of a credit union loan. “I know, very stupid of me to get it that high, but at least I was doing the right thing of paying it off,” his mail starts.

A few days after paying it off he was charged what AIB described as “a purchase finance fee”, something we know better as interest charged on purchases. He complained and the bank apologised and refunded the amount. “AIB also informed me I would see the credit card account open for a few weeks but there wouldn’t be any transactions on it and then the credit card account would close and disappear from my internet banking,” he writes.

All was well until the middle of July when he was less than pleased to see a direct debit payment of €274 for AA membership coming out of the card account he no longer had and that he thought had been closed.

“I went into my local branch to explain situation. They were confused but were able to give me my credit card number as I didn’t have it anymore, as I cut it up, as instructed to do so,” writes Matt.

He then called Credit Card Services and explained the situation and asked if his account had been closed: “They said ‘yes’.” He asked how he was liable “for money taken from an account that is closed? They said it was ‘because certain big companies can push through payments’.”

He asked why the payment had not been rejected “as with other payments which were simply rejected” and again was told “certain big companies can push through payments”.

He asked how he could check an account that had been closed and was not given an answer. “I just hit a wall of ‘it is my responsibility to cancel direct debits’. But surely logic tells you if an account is closed how can payment be made from or to it. The account is closed - I don’t get statements any longer. How can I know if the supposedly closed account is in arrears?”

He asked what would happen if he didn’t pay and was told his account would go into arrears and that his credit rating would be affected. “They told me I had to cancel the direct debit through the AA and that there was nothing they could do for me. I then rang the AA, who were extremely helpful. They cancelled with no queries as I was in the ‘cooling off period’ and told me the refund would be made to my credit card within a couple of weeks.”

‘Hounded’

However, he still has concerns. He wants to know if he will be charged interest if the refund doesn’t reach his account in time. He wants to know if the refund will go through f the account is closed. He says he now has a credit card account that he will have to monitor despite the fact it is nearly six months since he closed it and he wants to know if any other direct debits are going to hit and how long will this go on.

He said: “I paid the outstanding balance, went through all their hoops in order to close my credit card, but yet here I am, nearly six months later, still being hounded by them. It does not seem fair.”

We contacted the bank and received a not entirely helpful statement. “The customer closed his credit card account and was issued with a closure letter. This letter, which is standard for any customer who is closing their account, advised the requirement to cancel any payments to the card.

“The letter states: ‘please ensure you cancel any direct debits on your account (eg TV subscriptions, phone services, power services, insurance products, TV licence etc) as the companies involved will continue to debit your account until they hear from you’.

“Recurring payment arrangements on cards are agreed between the customer and the service provider. In this instance, the customer has acknowledged they hadn’t cancelled the agreement. If that agreement isn’t cancelled, the payment may continue to apply. The customer was on eStatements prior to the account closure and an eStatement will have generated detailing this transaction (however we acknowledge they may not have been aware of this)”.

The statement then finished with an entirely meaningless sentence claiming that AIB was “always looking at ways to improve customer experience.”

We did hear back from our reader and by his account, after our intervention the bank were somewhat more helpful than the statement suggests.

“A very nice and helpful man rang to say he was now looking after the account, would keep an eye on the account and make sure if any interest was charged due to the AA payment he would refund it. As soon as the refund of the full amount had hit from the AA he would make sure the account is closed and that I don’t have anything to worry about.”