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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 10:55 GMT
Have Your Say: Automated payments
Man at a computer
With standing orders you set up the payment with your bank

Money Box has discovered one insurance company has sent letters demanding its customers switch to direct debit, even if they have been paying the same monthly payment by standing order for years.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.

I have a annual energy contract for £50 per month payable by direct debit with no option for standing order. Now my contract is being ignored and I am told that from March it will be £138 per month!

My only recourse is now to follow the complaint procedure whilst they raid my bank account! Customers should be given the option by law.
RD Grant, Surrey

Prior to my retirement, I was employed by one of the major clearing banks. The service which generated the most complaints was direct debits. Most of these concerned wrong amounts being claimed, or difficulty in cancelling the payments.

It was no good telling our customers that it was not our fault - they expected us to sort it out!
Tony Knifton, Liverpool

My preferred method of payment is the standing order. We haven't yet had a demand to change to direct debit (thank goodness). I have absolutely no confidence in banks or other organisations, except to do what they think is in their own best interests.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance
Philip Gray, Glasgow

If those interests don't coincide with mine, I'll be the one to suffer under the direct debit arrangement. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Philip Gray, Glasgow

One problem with Direct Debits is your rights and how to exercise them when the company to whom you are paying withdraws more than they are entitled to.

My partner and I are currently in dispute with our leisure centre which was withdrawing more money then we believed they were entitled to.

As well as trying to resolve this issue directly with the company, which is painful, we sought assistance from our bank which said our only option was to cancel the Direct Debit and pursue the leisure centre ourselves for the money. Bring back Standing Orders!
Colm Massey, Oxford

I was rather surprised to hear the comments from the Apacs spokeswoman. Can she really be right? If so, then presumably, when my endowment policy matures, I can demand that the life company pays the proceeds to me in cash, or even better by allowing me to directly debit it from their fund.
Clifford, Bournemouth

A building society has just told me it is unable to accept my present standing order and I have to change to Direct Debit. Fortunately, I should reach the end of my mortgage next year and you can rest assured that once my mortgage has been repaid my connections with this building society will cease.
Mr. Peter Miller, Bristol

I do not trust the automated access of my bank account by a third party
James Humphris, Welling
I make it a policy to pay by standing order as I do not trust the automated access of my bank account by a third party. I was justified in my fears when my fiancé, who pays £3 a month to a charity, found £300 debited from her account. It took three days for this "administrative error" to be rectified.
James Humphris, Welling

Direct debit pain! One company took almost £400 using a direct debit collection. I was paying twice for several months. I noticed when, without my consent, they took out £200 within one week.
Nick, Poole

Last year I was astounded to discover the my insurers were charging me a fee for making my premium payments by direct debit.

When I challenged this, pointing out that my utilities suppliers, professional membership bodies and subscription journals were queuing up to offer me a discount for switching to direct debit, I was told that this is the norm among insurers. Can this be true?

I have of course reverted to the much more laborious process of paying by cheque and am currently looking for a more user-friendly insurer.
John Chapman, Knutsford

After setting up a Direct Debit to pay my council tax, I found that my local council had been taking payments from my bank for not only my council tax but for someone else's as well for three months.

When I pointed out that they should have made restitution under the Direct Debit Guarantee Scheme, they had no idea what I was talking about!

No one at my bank seemed to know about the Direct Debit Guarantee Scheme
MW Slack, London
Even more alarmingly, No one at my bank seemed to know about the Direct Debit Guarantee Scheme either. It took me three days of telephone calls before I found someone at my bank who sorted it out.
MW Slack, London

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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