My parents separated two years ago after 35 years of marriage. They share a Lloyds Gold account and my dad, who is a severe alcoholic, has raised their joint overdraft to almost £1,000. Mum been attempting since August to downgrade the account to a “Classic”, so it doesn’t incur a £15 a month fee, but Lloyds is proving incredibly unhelpful. It has only agreed to freeze the account, which is “temporary”, and they’ve dissuaded her from paying off the overdraft. She’s now stuck with an account she can’t close or use. Lloyds’s only suggestion was that my dad sign a form agreeing to close the account, but he hasn’t responded. The financial ombudsman acknowledged that Lloyds has handled it poorly, and ordered it to reduce the overdraft debt and contribute £30 for two monthly payments.
But she’s still stuck with the account and the fees, and the prospect of Dad again raising the overdraft if, and when, it is unfrozen. With the divorce likely to take another 16 months, this just seems an opportunity for Lloyds to earn an extra £240 at my mum’s expense.
This is a heart-rending case and Lloyds admits that it should have acted more swiftly. The bank says that when it is made aware of a dispute between joint account holders, it cancels future payments and restricts access so that both parties have to co-sign before any changes can be made. Your father would therefore have had to authorise the repayment of the overdraft and the downgrading of the account. That only works if both account holders are fully functioning, and you say your mother had repeatedly explained her circumstances.
Only after my contact did Lloyds refer the case to a specialist team, which lifted the block to allow her to settle the overdraft and remove her name from the account. It’s paid £250 in goodwill, on top of an earlier payment of £100 for giving incorrect advice, and has refunded all the fees incurred while the account has been in dispute. It says: “It’s clear we should have done much more to help her and we’re extremely sorry it has taken so long. We’ve listened to the feedback so we can further improve the support we offer in situations like this.
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