Closed account - Threatened with legal action.

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24 Apr 2014 00:47 by Marmite Star rating. 2 posts Send private message


In December of 2012 I settled a Banesto credit card debt, in full, in cash (some 2000€) and also paid a cancellation fee of 60€. I didn't do this in my own branch (it's a long way from where I live) but I was told there was no problem doing it in a local branch, they would forward everything to my branch of Banesto. I watched as the card was cut up in front of me and placed in an envelope to be sent internal mail to my branch. I literally thought nothing more about it.


8 months later, with the credit card paid off and my pension payments transferred to La Caixa, I decided to close the account completely. Again, I didn't do it in my own branch as it's 100km away, but did it in a Banesto more local to me, as again, I was told there was no problem whatsoever with doing that. At the point I closed the account (in July 2013) I was €9.88 in credit. I was told my branch would contact me to finalise the closure and to transfer any monies back to me. However, they stated quite clearly "it might take a while, we're merging with Santander, so we ask for your patience."


3 months later, having heard nothing my wife rang the branch and was basically told what we were told before, "be patient, we're going through a transition period..."


And thats when I started getting letters from Santander's collection department saying I owed 43€ for my credit card renewal fee. I told them I don't have a card, it was cut up, I cancelled the debt and the card almost a year ago. All they would tell me was I had to talk to my branch.


I rang my branch, promises were made to get back to me, they didn't. they promised to email my wife with information, they didn't. Then I started getting letters from Santander's lawyers - this is all for a 43€ annual card charge for a card we don't have. I told them what I'd told the debt collection centre and what I told my branch. Nobody cares.


Yesterday I received a new letter from Santander. Now we owe 127€ because they've added on interest and their lawyer's fees onto the 43€ debt for a card we haven't had for a year and a half. We have 30 days to pay or we're on an ASNEF list, Experian etc.


I rang my branch, furious. I was told they might be able to reduce the payment a bit. I said I wasn't going to pay a single cent. It's their error, they can sort it out. In 2012 they asked for my patience and all I've got in return is legal threats. 


We're lucky in that we have some money. I know it would be easier to pay the bast@rds but it's the principal of it all. Should I get a lawyer? What are my options? 


Their final argument was that although we paid the card off in full, and paid a cancelllation fee, we should also have rung Visa to cancel it. I've never heard anything so stupid. I didn't have to ring Visa to contract the card, I've paid good money to Banesto to cancel the card, Banesto destroyed the card in front of me and at no point were we ever told we also had to contact Visa. Where would you even find Visa's number? Yellow Pages?


Any thoughts?

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24 Apr 2014 07:55 by acer Star rating. 1160 posts Send private message

Hi Marmite,

I might be in a similar position, but frankly I'm not bothered.  I wrote to the previous bank in Spanish and English telling them the position - not that disimilar from yours.  They've sent me a couple of computer produced letters letters - I sent a copy of my letter to them with the first but have ignored the second.

I expect they'll give up in a year or two.  Personally I'm not at all concerned if they put me on some list with Experian as I don't need any credit and for the amount involved no self respecting finance company would take the matter seriously any way.  In the highly unlikely situation whereby they issue court proceedings I will take along my paperwork and expect to win.

So in a nutshell - I wouldn't let these prats get to you.  So long as you do a good letter up front in both languages and send it to them a couple of times.

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24 Apr 2014 08:23 by Mickyfinn Star rating. 1392 posts Send private message

I would instigate harrassment proceeding against them and claim damages and costs. 

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24 Apr 2014 08:46 by acer Star rating. 1160 posts Send private message

Hi Marmite,

A point I did not properly emphasise is that rather that scurrying around visiting them and making phone calls one good letter in English and Spanish will suffice.   And you need to be able to prove they have received it - just visiting a branch of Banesto and getting them to stamp a copy in acknowledgement may be easiest.

Your posting below would be a good starting point for the letter - keep it as short as possible, so it's easy to have translated.  But have lots of paragraphs, so it's easy to read.

I suggest this as your only very very remote concern is that due to their incompetence they may issue proceedings against you.  In a court situation documentation is all important and a simple letter like this is key.

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24 Apr 2014 09:23 by Team GB Star rating. 1249 posts Send private message

Team GB´s avatar

Good points Acer

Another option would be to send a Burofax via the post office

A burofax is a document delivery service by mail that is similar to a telegram. 

The difference is that the document is received through the fax system instead of the telegraph.

A burofax is cerrtified as having been sent to the recipient and a signed receipt will be required on delivery. Also the content of the submitted burofax is retained by the post office (or delivery agent) and is offibcially stamped.

For this reason, it is used mainly for official statements and notifications




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24 Apr 2014 10:21 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

Yes, TeamGB. A burofax is what our Spanish friends use when they want to do things like cancel contracts with Telefonica, because they're a nightmare to cancel and like to keep charging and then threatening with legal action, just like the bank in this case.

It is worrying though, when a non-debt (credit of 9 euros), becomes a debt of 43 euros and then increases to 127 euros, because obviously it can keep increasing until it becomes an amount which it's worth them taking you to court for. Hopefully the letter, sent by burofax will put a stop to it.

We've just been going through something similar with Sky in the UK, and I've issued a small claim against them - they have until tomorrow to answer. They owe us money but are trying to make out it's the opposite. I'm really hoping they won't send their response in time as then the judge will decide completely in our favour! Unfortunately, there is no easy method like this in Spain.

But like acer says, if you have the documentation including a clear letter setting out the facts you would have nothing to fear in court and they would have to pay a lawyer to attend and bring a stupid case against you. Although of course, who wants to go to court? Fingers crossed the letter will be the end of it.


My account of moving to Spain."><img


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24 Apr 2014 10:39 by acer Star rating. 1160 posts Send private message

Hi Eggcup, I was interested to hear your comment about Sky - in my experience these guys are the most outrageous in terms of trying to use bullying tactics.  I cancelled my contract, in writing giving sufficient notice etc and cancelled the direct debit as is necessary these days. 

A month or so later I received a deluge of letters, with penalty threats etc all within quick succession.  So I sent a copy of my first letter to them and then had a phone call saying that they hadn't received it so the contract was still in force.  I told them politely "no" I've complied with my contractual obligations etc.

Then for about a month I received something like 10 calls trying to harrass me into paying their inflated cancellation fee, it was so extraordinarily OTT that I'm sure that their staff are incentivised.  In the end they gave up, but you do have to be a bit thick skinned these days - and I reckon that the Spanish think we're an easy touch.

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24 Apr 2014 10:56 by baz1946 Star rating. 1926 posts Send private message

In regard to cancelling a Sky deal, or indeed many other types of such deals, I phoned Sky and cancelled one contract, after the agreed time frame though, and got them while on the phone to issue me with a cancelation number, never a problem had when you do this, if they tell you they cant give a number thats a lie.

If you get this number and you still did get demand letters, just throw them back with the number written on it and then see how they look if they wanted court action.

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24 Apr 2014 13:51 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

Re. our Sky dispute (sorry to hi-jack the thread a bit), I'll probably write a blog post on it, when and if it finally gets resolved. It's quite complicated and involves them, amongst other things agreeing in a telephone call to refund us £189 that they had overcharged us, us then taking out further services, them reneging on the refund and then charging us an early termination charge on the additional services we had taken out, only because they had agreed the refund (like acer, lots and lots of threatening letters).


My account of moving to Spain."><img


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26 Apr 2014 13:00 by Marmite Star rating. 2 posts Send private message

Hi all, thanks so much for all the advice and useful pointers. For now I've decided to write again to my branch, copying in their head office and the Banco de España. Inclusion on ASNEF and Experian lists means trivial things like swapping mobile phone provider become impossible so it's not something I can just leave festering away in the background.

I know poor banking practises aren't unique to Spain, but it does seem prevalent here. The thing is, I'm not unreasonable. I understand mistakes are made sometimes, and that's fine, just rectify it, an apology would be nice and everybody move on. But with Santander it seems that mistakes are never made, therefore automatically the customer is at fault and there's just no reasoning with them. It's this attitude, this lack of customer service that never ceases to amaze me. The day we closed the account the first thing my wife said to me when we got outside was "Don't you think it's strange they they didn't even ask us why we wanted to close it'" - It's because they just don't care, they'll screw you for every cent you have whilst you're with them, charge you 10€ to take 100€ out of a rival's ATM because their one is broken etc etc. 

Just as an aside, my wife is Spanish, an economics graduate, so I mean, nothing has been lost in translation anywhere. I'll keep you all posted on what finally happens.

Again, thanks to you all for taking the time to post your thoughts.


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