Refusal, not delay, behind non-return of money

Mistaken payments,
Lee wanted to transfer her credit card balance from bank A to bank B. While completing a form at bank B to authorise the transfer, she entered the wrong account number. As a result, her money went into a Alex's account at bank A instead, leaving her with a debt at both banks.
February 2016

When she realised her mistake, she contacted bank B. It asked bank A to contact Alex to return Lee’s money. After a delay, bank A contacted Alex, but she refused. Bank A passed this on to bank B and said there was nothing more it could do. Bank A made an offer to Lee in recognition of its delay in contacting Alex.

Our investigation

Lee complained to us. She believed the money hadn't been returned because of bank A’s delay in contacting Alex. We agreed that bank A could have contacted Lee sooner, and also could have communicated with her better.

But we did not consider the delay was the reason why she did not get back her money. A bank can reverse a mistaken payment only with the consent of the account holder who receives it. If the recipient refuses to return the money, the bank can do nothing more. This is what happened here. The reason she did not get her money back was that Alex refused to return it.


We asked bank A to reconsider its offer to Lee. It offered to reduce Lee’s debt by $650, and she accepted the offer. 

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