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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Friday, 27 August 2010 18:31 UK

Bank merger account glitches

Santander sign unveiled at branch in London
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 28 August 2010 at 1204 BST on Radio 4 and Online


Bank customers are being denied access to their cash as technical problems hit the transfer of former Alliance & Leicester customer accounts to Santander.

Listeners have been telling Money Box that problems have been taking, in some cases, weeks to resolve. To make matters worse, customers say Santander has not been explaining why they are being locked out of their online accounts.

Santander, which bought A&L in 2008, insists that the majority of the five million customers affected, have had their account details transferred with no major problems.

The programme is joined by: Guy Anker, of Money Saving Expert and also by Ralph Silva, banking analyst at SRN.

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Action against unofficial websites

Over the past few months, Money Box has been reporting about websites which charge for access to free government services such as child benefit claims, visa applications and European Health Insurance cards.

Now the Office of Fair Trading has taken action against a number of websites offering to help you apply for a European Health Insurance Card - or EHIC - for a fee. The card gives UK citizens free or cheap healthcare in the EU - and it is free if you get it direct from the official NHS website.

While not doing anything illegal, the OFT found that the sites had misled customers into believing they were providing an official service.

The OFT's legal director, Jason Freeman, talks to the programme.

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All that glitters is not gold?

Poor stock market performance and low interest rates have encouraged investors to look at commodities for a good return.

Since the start of 2007 the FTSE is down 20% but the price of gold has doubled - a statistic that caught the attention of Money Box listener Graham Long.

So Money Box fixed it for Graham to meet three investment experts to talk about gold's future prospects - Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management, David Kuo from the financial website The Motley Fool and John Stepek, editor of MoneyWeek.

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Nationwide

Over the summer there has been a steady stream of Nationwide customers contacting Money Box complaining about the bank's decision to start charging for cash withdrawals for those using debit cards at ATM machines in Europe.

From November the bank will start making a commission charge of 2% plus a £1 flat fee.

Nationwide says it's made the change to the Flex Account because it was bringing disproportionate benefits to only a tiny minority of its members and insists that its rate is still competitive.

Andrew Hagger, from the financial website Money Net compares the rates for making cash withdrawals from ATMs in Europe.

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Student loans interest rates

People with student loans will start paying interest on the amount they owe for the first time in a year.

More than 3.5m student loans have not been accruing any interest because rates are linked to the Retail Prices Index, which last year went into the negative - resulting in a 0% interest rate on such loans.

Some former students lucky enough to have spare cash found it made better financial sense to put the money into a savings account rather than pay off the loan early.

But what's the situation now?

Reporter Charlotte McDonald and Money Net's Andrew Hagger look into the issue.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 BST and will be repeated on Wednesday at 1502.



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