Institutions at fault

I WOULD like to warn readers of the Observer who pay bills by direct debit of local (and perhaps national) problems that have arisen.

In the past week five of my direct debit payments (four monthly ones, and one six-monthly) have been (allegedly) refused.

The incompetent organisations concerned are: Chichester District Council, Portsmouth Water, Southern Electric (electricity), Southern Electric (gas), and Southern Water.

I have received, variously, a final demand, notification that my bank account has been closed, notification that no mandate exists, and two attempts to take money from an account I have never possessed.

Regrettably, both Chichester District Council and Portsmouth Water insist that a new direct debit mandate should be completed, despite all of these mandates having been in existence and applied for years, and their having full details on their systems.

I have documentary proof from my bank that none of these organisations has actually applied for payment when they claim to have done so.

The problems appear to arise from two (possibly related) causes: the recent computer systems breakdown at NatWest Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, and also from the fact that when the Spanish Santander Bank took over the Alliance and Leicester Building Society, they did not transfer any direct debit mandates.

I have never had an account with any of these financial institutions.

I hope that this may serve as a warning to anyone who similarly receives communications from these organisations that it is the institutions themselves who are at fault.

Storm Dunlop

Stocks Lane,

East Wittering