Cryptocurrency has often been criticized for the lack of support offered to users who misplace or mis-send funds. Centralized banks, we’re told, are much more reliable because if anything goes wrong with our money we can rely on them to help us get it back – after all, it’s in their system. This notion has taken a battering however following news that Barclays failed to help a pensioner get back a £193,000 ($254,000) inheritance that was sent to another Barclays customer in error, only acting when put under pressure from a national newspaper.
Incorrect Number Leads to Seven-month Chase
The victim, 74 year old pensioner Peter Teich, was due to receive an inheritance windfall from his late father into his Barclays account back in April, but when he failed to receive it contacted his solicitor, only to find that he had got a number in his bank details wrong, and the money had gone to a different Barclays customer. Assuming the bank would be able to recall the funds, Teich contacted Barclays to report the error, only to be given a stunning response:
Due to an error on your part, the funds were applied to another customer … clearly you were mis-advised about the funds being restored to your account, and in recognition of this, I have credited your account with a small token gesture of £25.
After much pushing, Barclays finally contacted the recipient and asked him to do the honorable thing and cough up the funds, but he refused. So they stopped trying. The law wasn’t much help either, as it was classed a civil dispute rather than a criminal one, so police couldn’t get involved. Instead, Teich had to spend thousands of pounds on lawyers to obtain the recipient’s details and go after his own money, including gaining an injunction from the high court to freeze the recipient’s account, at which point the individual was forced to hand the money back.
Barclays “Did Nothing”
Teich’s issues with Barclays didn’t end there, however. He asked them to repay the £46,000 ($60,650) it had cost him in legal fees to get his money back but they refused, only accepting they had erred when put under pressure by The Guardian newspaper. In response, Teich was suitably scathing of the bank, stating:
It could have taken Barclays a few days to recover the misdirected funds, but instead they did nothing. They could have saved me and everyone else all this stress and anxiety…Barclays could have done the right thing and intervened when there was still time to do so.
Teich’s tale is one that should act as a warning to bank account holders not just in the UK but around the world – banks claim to look after your money, but can be extremely quick to evade liability when required to act on those claims. Cryptocurrency may not be perfect, but the idea of being solely responsible for your funds is baked into the concept, and it doesn’t make any claims to help you before leaving you in the lurch when called upon. Banks are known to be no friends of cryptocurrency, but incidents like this will only push people further away from them, especially with De-Fi products improving all the time.