Can I insist on payment by bank transfer and not cheque?

Discussion in 'Banking, credit cards, etc' started by NoRegretsCoyote, 12 Feb 2019.

  1. NoRegretsCoyote

    NoRegretsCoyote Frequent Poster

    I've had a few refunds from utilities providers and health insurers in the last few years. when I call them up the conversation invariably goes like this:

    Me: I'll give you my IBAN. Can you refund me that way?
    Them: No. Company policy is to issue refunds only by cheque.
    Me: It isn't convenient for me to go to a bank. A transfer is much easier. It isn't 1978.
    Them: We only issue refunds by cheque.

    They invariably post me a cheque which I then give to my father to lodge. He is retired and quite likes this kind of job.

    Anyway, the only reason I can think of is that some non-trivial percentage of people just don't bother lodging cheques, which is something that utilities and health insurers take advantage of.

    Is there any legal basis for me to insist on them refunding me by bank transfer?
    CiaranT likes this.
  2. Seagull

    Seagull Frequent Poster

    It's largely down to risk. If they make a typo with the IBAN, then they have a hassle getting the money back. If they make an error with the cheque, you call them up, and they issue a new one.
    MugsGame likes this.
  3. CiaranT

    CiaranT .

    I think refunds are offered by cheque in the hope that a certain percentage of customers will never lodge the cheque.
    beautfan likes this.
  4. NoRegretsCoyote

    NoRegretsCoyote Frequent Poster

    I am certain that you are right.

    I am wondering if there is any way to force them to issue a refund by bank transfer.

    I have several utilities that can happily take money from my bank account every month by direct debit but claim they cannot refund money to same account.
  5. RedOnion

    RedOnion Frequent Poster

    No, there isn't. Remember the Irish Water refund fiasco with crossed cheques?

    I don't think there's anything underhanded with cheques. Some companies just have terrible processes that aren't prioritised to change.

    My biggest issue isn't the cheque Vs transfer, but the fact that none of the utility companies automatically issue refunds when you cancel a service.

    Moved house and the following experiences:

    Electric Ireland: had both electric & gas with them. Bills had been estimated, so one was overpaid and the other underpaid when I took final reading. But overall, net refund due to me. But - they collected the underpayment by DD, and left the credit sitting on other bill!
    It was straight forward to request refund online - they sent by bank transfer, and wrote to me with details of payment. But I still had to apply for the refund.

    Virgin - they bill for full month, and then put a credit in your account for part of month you don't use. This is to be 'helpful' to you when you move to new address so you have credit.

    Storage company issued me a credit note for unused time I had paid for.