Anger as older premium bond savers are "given up": flood of protests when the savings giant NS & I checks checks and goes online when its customer service is already in chaos
- NS & I would like to deposit all winnings directly into customer accounts
- It is said that checks are only sent in the most "exceptional" circumstances
- Customers must register their account details with NS&I in order to receive prize money
- But many elderly people are not online and unable to make phone calls as NS & I's customer service lines are under pressure
Savings giant NS&I faces a major backlash after canceling its premium bond checks and forcing millions of savers online.
The Treasury-backed bank has been accused of leaving the elderly at a time when customer service is already in chaos.
Starting next month, National Savings & Investments would like to deposit all profits directly into customer accounts. Checks are only sent under the most "exceptional" circumstances.
This means customers must register their account details with NS&I in order to receive prize money. However, many elderly people are not online and unable to make calls as NS & I's customer service lines collapse under the pressure.
Activists say the move is a betrayal of millions of savers who have held premium bonds for decades.
We're going to take out our £ 27,000 instead of accepting it
Linda and Joe McCauley have been buying premium bonds since 1963 but are now considering cashing in on their entire £ 27,500 investment.
Over those five decades, the couple has won at least £ 25 and sometimes £ 50 or even £ 500 in most raffles.
However, they have no interest in managing their finances or handing over their bank account details online. While the couple own an iPad, they only use it for Skype calls with their daughter in Canada.
Linda and Joe McCauley (pictured) have been buying premium bonds since 1963 but are now considering cashing in on their entire £ 27,500 investment
When Ms. McCauley, 76, found out last month that NS & I were about to expire the price checks, she tried to call and ask if she could still get them.
But after 45 minutes on hold, the retired nurse gave up and now plans to send a letter to the rescue arm headquarters in Sunderland.
The five-year-old great-grandmother from Lincoln said, “I won't have anyone to force me to do what I don't want to do.
"I could have an iPad, but I wouldn't be comfortable putting my banking details on a website, and NS & I should respect that."
I feel bullied about it
Valerie Jones, 84, bought Premium Bonds when they were launched in 1957 and has now invested over £ 40,000.
She usually wins six £ 25 prizes a year and one £ 500.
As a former meteorologist in the Wrens, she uses neither a computer nor a smartphone and fears online fraud.
Mrs. Jones of Yate, near Bristol, said, “I don't know what to do. I feel like it's just pushing me to do something that I don't like to do. & # 39;
Valerie Jones, 84, bought Premium Bonds when they were launched in 1957 and has now invested over £ 40,000. (She is pictured with her husband Melbourne.)
Ros Altmann, former pension minister and advocate of older workers, said her own 88-year-old mother was affected. "How can you possibly do that?" She asked. “It will cause further misery for older people in addition to their isolation.
“A lot of older people can't manage digital connectivity and right now they can't even get someone to help them.
"Older savers have had a hot time the past few years and enjoy getting a premium bond check on occasion, but it seems they are still being denied it now."
Five million customers receive prizes in the mail and more than a million checks are sent out every month.
Money Mail has been inundated with hundreds of letters from angry readers saying the change is causing tremendous stress in an already challenging time. Many threaten to withdraw their money unless NS&I pulls out.
Starting next month, National Savings & Investments would like to deposit all profits directly into customer accounts. Checks are only sent under the most "exceptional" circumstances
Barbara Keeley, all party co-chair on Aging and Elderly, said, "Businesses need to understand that not everyone wants or can access services online and that should be respected."
Bridget Phillipson, Treasury Department shadow chief, said: “Older people are much less likely to have online bank accounts and are much more likely to be hit hard by Covid-19.
"It is irresponsible to make this change in the middle of a deadly second wave and forcing those who don't have internet access at home to look elsewhere."
Ros Altmann (above), ex-pension minister and advocate for older workers, said her own 88-year-old mother was affected. "How can you possibly do that?" She asked. "It will add further misery to older people in addition to their isolation."
Age UK's Caroline Abrahams pointed out that more than half of the UK population over 75 do not use computers.
NS & I's customer service lines were already struggling when savers rushed to move their money before prices dropped to 0.01 percent earlier this week.
Since the last announcement, older savers have waited on hold for more than an hour with questions only to be cut off. You are now afraid of missing out on prices.
The government bank hasn't even told all customers of the change and has only written to those who use email or have received an award since October. NS&I says it will write to clients with winning bonds and explain how to claim their prizes.
A spokesperson for NS&I added, “Paying Premium Bonds prices directly to customers' bank accounts is faster, easier and safer. This also means that we can reduce the number of unclaimed Premium Bonds prices if we do not have a current address.
& # 39; This change allows NS & I to manage the price distribution for premium bonds more cheaply.
"NS&I is hiring around 200 additional employees in addition to the 146 additional employees already hired to handle the extremely high volume of calls."
Questions and Answers: How NS&I Changes Work
Premium Bond winners will no longer receive checks in the mail. Also known as warrants, they will expire from next month and go away for good by March 2021.
How are prizes paid out?
National Savings & Investments would like to deposit cash directly into customers' bank accounts. Or savers can reinvest profits in additional premium bonds as long as they don't already hold the maximum amount of £ 50,000.
Why does it happen
NS&I claims it's faster, safer, and greener to deposit prices into customer accounts. The move will save paper and postage costs, but General Manager Ian Ackerley won't say how much.
What do I have to do?
Customers have been asked to provide their bank details online at nsandi.com. But many have difficulties. Those who do not have internet access can pass them on over the phone. But savers were kept on hold for hours, and those without an email address or cell phone struggled to register.
Can i refuse
NS & I has announced that it will look into exemptions on a case-by-case basis when customers are particularly at risk. However, the government bank has stressed that simply not liking it is not good enough.
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