Mayor locked out of account after bank mistakenly thought he was dead
A town mayor who lost his wife to cancer was locked out of his bank accounts for more than five weeks after bungling Barclays staff believed it was him who had died.
Tim Gill, mayor of Ludlow, says the mistake – which led to direct debits being cancelled and his pension being stopped – has caused him immense stress and worry during an already incredibly difficult time.
Mary Gill, Mr Gill’s wife and the town’s mayoress, died at home on July 6 at the age of 69. She had been diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and had recently spent time in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.
But when Mr Gill contacted Barclays to notify the bank of Mrs Gill’s passing, a deceased notice was placed on the account in Mr Gill’s name – locking him out of online banking services and preventing him from issuing cheques.
Mr Gill said: “Five weeks ago today I was unable to access our joint account because Barclays decided I had died and not my wife.”
He discovered the error when the Lloyd’s cash machine in Ludlow would not allow him to withdraw money, and when he tried it at the Barclays cash point his card was swallowed.
Mr Gill said: “I went inside and they spent some time checking things for me and said I was no longer on the account.
“They spent time contacting people and I was told it would be resolved in two to three working days, but it wasn’t.
“I phoned up and was on the line for over an hour before I could get through to somebody. They said they would pass it on to their team leader and it would be resolved in two to three days.
“I phoned the bereavement team – I was given the number by Barclays in Ludlow – and explained everything to them, and was told again that it would be resolved in two to three days.
“All in all I have had eight conversations with representatives from Barclays bank and I have been into the Ludlow branch four times to try and get it sorted out.”
Mr Gill was sent an authentication card from Barclays and a new PIN, which seemed to resolve the situation and he was able to access his account for about four days – but then it stopped working again.
After another phone call to Barclays, Mr Gill was told that a deceased notification in his name had been placed back on the account.
He has now begun to receive letters from utility companies informing him that direct debits from his joint account have been cancelled, and has been told by Teachers’ Pensions that his pension payments have been returned.
He also received a new cheque book, only to find it was in Mrs Gill’s name rather than his. He informed Barclays and a replacement was sent out – but the mistake had been repeated.
“I have spent hours on the phone trying to sort it out,” said Mr Gill.
“Everyone says the right things but nothing gets done.
“I am lucky that I have another bank account, but I have got so many direct debits on that joint account.
“It is just a nightmare.”
Mr Gill said he was now able to use his new bank card at cash points but was still unable to log in online to move money around and reinstate his direct debits, leaving him worried the mistake could cause “havoc” with his credit score.
He did however praise the Ludlow branch staff who had assisted him by transferring money to another account and allowing him to withdraw cash.
He said: “The Barclays branch staff in Ludlow have been very good. They could see quite clearly that I was not dead and they knew that Mary was deceased.”
A Barclays spokesman said the mistake had finally been rectified, almost six weeks after Mr Gill first contacted the bank.
“Maintaining the highest standards of customer service is our top priority,” the spokesman said.
“Unfortunately on this occasion we failed to adhere to those high standards and incorrectly applied a deceased account marker onto Mr Gill.
“We have now rectified the error and Mr Gill’s account facilities are now fully active.
“We sincerely apologise to Mr Gill for any distress and inconvenience caused by our error and are working hard to develop new procedures so this situation does not occur again.”
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