ULSTER Bank was yesterday forced to defend its policies after a woman contacted Liveline to complain that she had been sent a letter by the bank over arrears totalling 3 cent.
The caller, Ann from Westmeath, told the RTÉ radio programme that she was upset to receive the letter last Friday in which the bank said it had decided to clear the tiny arrears at its “sole discretion”.
The letter stated that “the bank has currently undertaken a review of its mortgage accounts and it has come to light that there is an arrears amount of 3 cent on your account which have been outstanding for some considerable time”.
The woman said she had been paying her mortgage on time and in full to the bank for the past three years and that the letter had reduced her to tears.
“I got a letter here on Friday morning and I’ll tell you something I cried most of Friday with the letter that I got from them,” she said.
The letter stated that given the woman’s track record in maintaining normal repayments on the mortgage it had decided to clear the arrears and this would feature on her next annual mortgage statement.
But the letter added that the decision had been taken at the sole discretion of the bank and that future arrears may result in the commencement of recovery proceedings.
“This really annoyed me as I reread it over the weekend. It cost them a lot more to send that letter to me,” the caller said.
She said her local branch had been very understanding when she contacted them about the letter, which had been sent from the Ulster Bank offices in Dublin.
She also questioned whether other customers around the country had received similar letters from the bank regarding small arrears.
A spokesman for Ulster Bank said a number of letters had been sent to people with arrears of less than €10.
“Ulster Bank can confirm that following an internal review a decision has been made to help some customers with very small arrears balances on their mortgage account.”
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