Co-operative Bank seems to have lost £2,500 I sent abroad

It was to fund a language laboratory but when the money didn’t arrive we knew there was a problem

In April I requested that the Co-operative Bank transfer £2,500 to a bank account in Palestine. Four months on, the money is lost.

This was money collected by our local group, Bradford on Avon Friends of Palestine, and was to help pay the costs of a language laboratory set up in the city of Tubas.

I had transferred the money from my personal account to the project manager’s own bank account. Knowing that transfers to Palestine can take longer than one would normally expect, I did not worry too much when the money did not arrive within two weeks.

However, after three weeks, it soon became apparent that there had been a problem. After many calls to the bank, and despite taking this up with the Co-op Bank chief executive’s office, the money still could not be found.

In June, in order to allow the project to go ahead as promised, I used my own funds to send a similar sum from my NatWest account, which went through without a problem within a few days.

Since then I have been battling to get the £2,500 returned. As requested, I have sent Co-op Bank a copy of the recipient’s bank statements, which show no such credit.

The bank appears to be trying to blame me for giving it the wrong bank account number but this is completely wrong.

The money appears to me to be with the intermediary bank that Co-op Bank used but I am getting nowhere. I have spent many hours trying to resolve this. Please help.

PW, Wiltshire

What is it about international money transfers that causes so many problems?

We have received a number of similar letters in recent years concerning various banks, and they all seem to follow the same pattern: the money doesn’t arrive and has seemingly disappeared into a black hole, and no one at the sending bank appears willing or able to get it back.

This case even had the familiar claim by the bank that the customer must have given them the wrong account details, something that you are sure is not the case.

Happily, after I took up your complaint, the Co-operative Bank finally managed to recall the lost funds, and it has now refunded you the money. You are frustrated that it took our intervention but very pleased to be reunited with your cash.

For future payments, I would strongly urge you to use one of the specialist international payment firms.

I use Wise, and really rate its service, but there are several others that are proven. Not only will it be quicker and more transparent (and almost certainly easier to resolve problems), it will be far cheaper than using a high street bank.

At last, some good news about travel

You seem to receive so many complaints about travel companies that I thought I would redress the balance a little.

I had booked a recent trip to travel to the Northwest Passage and into the Arctic with Exodus Travels and Quark Expeditions. On arrival in Calgary, we were told of a delay because of weather conditions in the Arctic, and that we would leave two days late.

On the third day, however, there were serious forest fires in the city of Yellowknife that would have prevented plane landings, so, unfortunately, the trip had to be abandoned.

We were offered very generous compensation, and return flights were rebooked.

Within two working days of arriving home, my trip was rebooked for next year and the refund and generous compensation were in my current account. How about that?

PA, Maidstone

Amid the sea of travel complaints that we have received in recent weeks, this lonely letter of praise arrived.

I was almost starting to despair of the travel sector – reading endless letters of complaint does that to a man – so it’s good to hear of a reader having a good experience.

So a big well done to Exodus Travels and Quark Expeditions.

Have any other readers got a similarly happy travel experience that has arisen out of this summer’s travel chaos that they would like to share? Email the usual address.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions


Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

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