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All systems go at the B&B

This may be the case, but even three systems in operation can sometimes get it wrong. If failures at Scottish Widows weren’t bad enough, the Bradford and Bingley is now experiencing the same.

On 4th December  Bradford and Bingley will convert to a plc and issue 250 shares to each of its 2.7 million members. Initial estimates value the shares at between £630 to £815. To claim your free shares and sell immediately on conversion, the application forms must be signed and returned by 24th November. If you’re like me and still waiting for that purple envelope to drop through the letterbox, then urgency is required.

I found the hotline for conversion queries (0845 601 1456)  was always busy and if you weren’t lucky enough to join the queue, then a helpful voice mail kicked in, told you to try again later and then promptly cut you off. The email facility (enquiries@bradford-bingley.co.uk) is still a bit of a mystery. My numerous messages are somewhere in email limbo, unanswered. I decided to phone a branch in Leeds and try to circumvent the system. No luck. All I was instructed to do was keep trying the hotline, around 7.30pm or at weekends when the lines were not busy.

I finally got through on a Friday afternoon and spoke to a supervisor, Jenny Hudson (01274 555928) who was very helpful and looked into my query. The problems seem to stem from B&B using three different computer systems to compile a list of eligible members and then produce a mailing list. In my case, having a brother who once lived at the same address with the same initial caused the system to reject the duplicate account and exclude me from the mailing list. On looking into the Investment Ledger and checking my account number to my full name, the fault was rectified and I now await my share application (fingers crossed!).

Having read the terms and conditions for this conversion, the following paragraph is important for future claimants:

The shares must be claimed within three years, after which B&B can instruct Computershare Services plc to sell them and give only the cash equivalent of their value.

If the shares or cash have not been claimed after 12 years, members will forfeit all their rights and the proceeds will go back to the Bradford & Bingley.