Jessica investigates: our troubleshooter comes to the aid of a reader who fell foul of the bank's "affordability" rules when his income fell.
I have worked for the local authority for the past 11 years, and thanks to a number of promotions have now secured a salary of about £26,000 a year. This may not sound fantastic but is a good wage in this area.
Ever since I started with the council there have been rumours of a pay and grading restructure or job evaluation and during the last couple of years this has been put in place. The job evaluation has resulted in my salary being reduced by £6,000 a year and, although I have been through two appeals and the grievance procedure, I have not been able to have this reversed.
Because of this I have had to look at all my finances. While I have been able to pay for my credit card and a personal loan with ease before, I quickly realised that this would not be possible any more and so sought the help of a debt management plan. This enabled me to reduce the monthly outgoings of these debts.
My next task was to look at the mortgage and that is where the problem lies. I took out a mortgage with Santander when we bought our current house. ED Wales
Your fixed-rate, part-interest-only and part-repayment deal with Santander (Madrid: SAN.MC - news) is coming to an end. All Santander is offering you now on a mortgage worth around £100,000 is a standard variable rate of 4.74pc. It says under the current lending criteria you do not qualify for anything else. Despite reviewing this again at my request it is not, I am afraid, changing its mind and it won't factor in an apartment you own abroad which is up for sale.
I have been hampered by the fact that you have not provided me with full contact details including a phone number.
A Santander spokesman said: "As a responsible lender, our lending decisions are based on affordability and take into account the customer's overall financial position, including income and outgoings, to assess the customer's ability to meet their mortgage payments. In this way Santander makes decisions which guard against the applicant overcommitting their finances."
I know the financial situation has changed hugely and we are in a different climate, but surely the more you are paying for the mortgage the more likely it is that you will not be able to sustain payments. Also, I feel that banks which, after all, got us into the financial pickle the country is in could be more helpful to innocent victims such as yourself.
Santander does say you should come back to it once the foreign property is sold. Meanwhile, it may be a good idea to put a note on your credit files if they reveal anything of the situation.
If things continue to be so difficult consider seeking advice from free sources such as the StepChange debt charity (0800 138 1111; stepchange.org) and Shelter (BSE: SIPL.BO - news) (0808 800 4444; shelter.org.uk ) .
Incidentally, Santander is writing to more than 270,000 former Abbey customers who had mortgages with a standard variable rate (SVR) cap in December 2008. This is about unclear information it gave before increasing the cap. Only a small minority of borrowers are likely to be entitled to redress as it largely depends on whether a borrower could have moved to a better deal at the time. See santander-products.co.uk/capmargin .
The telephone number is 0800 389 6370 but before calling do bear in mind that letters about this are being sent in tranches and not all will have gone out until near the end of the year.
= Balancing act =
I hold an account called "Protected Capital Account-inflation linked" with Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS - news) and am not happy with it. I have made inquiries to find out what the early termination value would be. Their reply was to say that I must write to them and apply to close the investment and request my money back. Only then would I know the value.
Can you suggest any way I can get a valuation without making a commitment to terminate the investment?
You got a statement at the end of the year but wanted to be able to know the early cash-in value of this Credit Suisse account at other times as well. Now (Other OTC: NWPN - news) , further to my involvement, you have been told that you can ring in and have an update on the first or second of the month to see what it was worth at the end of the previous month.
Nor had you had the tax voucher you had wanted. This you also now have along with names of people you can speak to.
= Age concern =
Just recently I had occasion to go into my local Lloyds branch. While I was there I was asked if I would be interested in having a Lloyds credit card as well as a debit card. I said that I would and was then taken in to see one of the other employees.
She asked me quite a few questions and then suddenly said: "Oh. You are not eligible." When I asked why, she said I was too old and implied that I had to be younger than 70. I am nearly 77.
Further to my contact, the bank telephoned you. It said that there were other factors as well as your age which precluded you from having the credit card at issue. You said you were no longer interested in having a credit card and tried to terminate the conversation.
The person ended by offering you a small sum of money for the trouble you have been caused. You are accepting this.
• Please address letters to Jessica, Your Money, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. A full postal address, a signature and daytime telephone number are needed. Because of the volume of mail received, it is not possible to respond to every letter and correspondence cannot be entered into. Please do not send original documents or stamped and addressed envelopes. Responsibility, legal or otherwise, for answers given cannot be accepted. Cases currently with an ombudsman, going through a court of law or sent to other columns will not be considered. In addition I cannot take up issues when the writer is a third party, other than in exceptional circumstances. I cannot respond to emails.