Written on: 22/11/2011
I am a single Mum who works at least 5 days a week - as I have done since age 16. My Ex-Partner who jointly owns my home with me is in jail and has been since 2009. He left me with a lot of debt, and I have been struggling to survive on a low income. I have held a current account with Santander since I moved to this country over a decade ago. I have held my mortgage with them since 2001.
My account sometimes goes over its overdraft and they have charged me up to £35 for going overdrawn by a couple of pennies or pounds. One month they charged me £186 in overdraft charges as one company kept trying for money which wasn't there...That's a quarter of my monthly income. I near enough starved that month. My little son had basic rations but I went 3 days without any food and a further week with just sandwiches. I am 5'8" and my weight plummeted to 7 & 1/2 stone. I still went to work every day, even though I was starving. I had no heating or hot water at home and my little boy who is asthmatic, was cold and wheezy. What am I meant to do? I have no relatives in this country, I am all alone. I tried to reason with them but they wouldn't return the money. Of course the mortgage payment was short again... After a while arrears built up. I got depressed, suicidal even... Doctor put me on Antidepressants. What did Santander do?! Tried to repossess my house and make me and my son homeless - another burden for the state.... For what?! Arrears of £1082 pounds! Now please do bear in mind that over £500 of the arrears are late payment charges added by them...Now guess what?! My house is worth £270,000. The outstanding mortgage is around £105,000... Which means they stood to gain a nice £150K from kicking a single Mum and her little boy on the street. They won't give me any of the equity in my home - apparently it's against policy when in arrears... I can't sell or remortgage the house without my Ex's permission as he is joint owner. I have nothing but this house but they are trying to take it. They didn't call me, or visit me even though they know my circumstances and they can see how little I earn… Instead they booked a repossession/eviction without informing me. They claim they sent me letters but they didn’t... They sent me one letter 14 days before they scheduled the eviction but the letter which looked like Junk mail was addressed to the Tenant/Occupier! Not even my name on it. I didn't open it as it seemed like random Junk… I only stopped the eviction as someone called me at work saying there was lots of men outside my house trying to break in. I established who they were and what they were doing and I rushed home in tears, and phoned the bank. The woman in the Mortgage department (her name was Cassandra - I remember) was cold, unhelpful and unsympathetic. She told me there was nothing I can do unless had the £1082 right now. She gave me no options... Once the bailiffs heard how low my arrears were and that half were charges from Santander, and how much equity I have in my house, and that I lived on my own with a child while his Dad is in prison, they were absolutely disgusted with Santander… (Their actual words were: Santander are W***ers!) and REFUSED to go ahead with the eviction. One of them argued with that Cassandra on the phone because she was trying to convince him to go ahead and said he should follow his instructions. But he cleared it with his boss and gave me a further week to fight this! Which proves not all Bailiffs are bad – these guys were fantastic! They came back the following day and brought me all the paperwork I needed to appeal at the court – paperwork Santander and/or Eversheds should have sent me but did not. I had to take time off work, travel to court 3 days in a row and without any legal advice (I am not entitled to free legal advice due to the high equity in my property) and pay £40 just for my application to be heard. But when I got into that room with the Judge I got a court-assigned brief to advise me – Thank you Miss Hunter – you were fabulous -and she was also disgusted with Santander. In fact everyone I have talk to - whether an organisation like National Debtline, solicitors, friends, mortgage brokers, etc. had very bad things to say about Santander and the inefficient rude and downright stupid solicitors they use (Eversheds). The Eversheds Solicitor who came to Court on behalf of Santander tried to lie in front of the judge by saying I borrowed £79K off the bank to start with and now I owe them £105K... Thankfully I had proof with me that I in fact borrowed £120K and thus have reduced the balance by £15K - pretty much on my own! The judge was not impressed with the Eversheds Solicitor (Miss Harrison -some young "woman" who looked like she just graduated and who was sitting in Bow County Court Reception squeezing her spots in a compact mirror....lol) and the wrong information she submitted. He expressed his dismay at the way they were taking money off me in overdraft charges that borders on robbery, then giving me even more charges for underpaying my mortgage due to being short, - it's a vicious circle and they are refusing to help me... Why should they when they stand to gain £165K from reposessing my house?! Yes I do know that repossessed and auctioned properties rarely go for anywhere near what they are worth but they would be unlikely to make a loss on this sale as they will get more than £105,000 for a 3-bedroom end-of-terrace 30 minutes from Central London... The moral of the Story is: Santander, Bradford & Bingley, Eversheds = unprofessional, unhelpful, inefficient, dishonest. They are criminals who prey on those who are vulnerable and down on their luck. Be aware and DON'T USE THEM! If you can - change your mortgage, current account, ISA, savings, insurance to another bank before they mess your life up!