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'Why did Barclays freeze my wages from working on a New Zealand farm?'

Holly Thomas
The reader earned money while travelling in New Zealand by working on a farm - Verónica Grech for The Telegraph 

Last year in October, I took the daunting step, for a 19 year-old, of travelling to New Zealand to work on a farm for five months.

When I left, I had around £5,000 in a Barclays current account. While overseas, I kept my wages in an account with a local bank. Before I returned, I transferred this money, totalling £6,600, to Barclays.

When I got home, I couldn’t log into my Barclays account to check the wages had arrived. I phoned and customer services told me the account had a zero balance. I was put through to the fraud team and told my account was on final notice to be closed and that my money was in a holding account.

I visited my local branch, which couldn’t tell me why the account was to be closed. The staff asked for proof of where the money had come from, so I presented my wage slips and bank statements. I was then asked to prove where the £5,000 – my initial balance – had come from, even though my statements showed that the money came from work for a farmer in the area.

My direct debits have not been paid and Barclays insists that my account is to be closed. I have spent so much time going back and forth. After a three-hour visit to the branch this week, I managed to withdraw £6,600 – in cash.

I’m told I will have access to the rest in a few days. Why has Barclays closed my account and made me wait? Walking down the street with so much in cash was not ideal.

GC, Essex

After I got in touch with Barclays, it investigated what happened and now says that closing your account was a mistake. Barclays has reopened your account and paid in £200 by way of an apology – which you are pleased with.

However, you needed to deposit the £11,600 cash that Barclays handed to you some weeks ago. So you opened a current account with a rival high street bank, with which you intend to stay.

A Barclays spokesman said: “The decision to close a customer’s account is one that is never taken lightly, and in this instance we had reasonable grounds to investigate the account.

“However, an incorrect action was taken while the account was under review, which led to an erroneous account closure. We recognise the inconvenience caused to Mr C.”