Army Preserved Pension Fiasco
Case Against Equiniti Paymaster
(negligence in production of OPM) That Equiniti Paymaster required overseas bank account details to be entered on an inappropriate OPM. Specifically, their OPM for Mexico requires a 3-digit Bank Code plus an Account Number of up to 34 (sic) digits to be supplied; whereas Mexican Banking Institutions (since 2004) require a single 18-digit value known as a CLABE. These are not the only errors on this OPM, and its seriously erratic nature indicates that no effort whatever to determine the requirements has been made in its creation; nor can it ever have been checked. It should go without saying that Equiniti Paymaster must create OPMs that comply with the requirements of the host banking system and hence enable transfers to be made to it, not conjure them up according to its whims.
(mishandling original completed OPM). Although this was sent by registered post on the 8th October 2015, Equiniti Paymaster claimed that it had still not been received by the 22nd December 2015. This is highly questionable, since the AFPS Form 8 sent to Veterans UK only three days earlier (also by registered post) reached them on or before the 26th October 2015 (the date of the Award Letter). The quoted delivery time for items sent by registered post from Mexico to the UK is 12 to 20 days, and recent experience gives no reason to doubt this (the extreme delays of around three months have been with post received from the UK). It may not be possible to prove this charge; but most probably this delayed the application by about two months. A scan of the original completed OPM was sent as an email attachment on 23rd December 2015 to replace the original lost OPM.
(negligent and/or intransigent rejection of replacement OPM) That, on 11th January 2016, Equiniti Paymaster rejected the OPM sent by email to replace the original, on the invalid grounds that the putative 3-digit Bank Code had not been supplied. The efforts that the complainant had made to work around the defective OPM had apparently been ignored. These included an explanation that not only provided additional information in connection with the requested Bank Code and Account Number, but also stated that numerous bank transfers had been received from the UK on the basis of the details supplied. On the basis of this, any reasonable organisation would have both made payment, and reviewed and corrected the OPM. Equiniti Paymaster made no payment until 18th April 2016, and to date has still not corrected the online OPM.
(refusal to make due payments on false grounds) That Equiniti Paymaster has made no payment of amounts due, even though they could have done so on receipt of the OPM. This is presumably a consequence of the unreasonable rejection of the OPM. Although the information supplied on the OPM was correct and would have enabled payment to be made, they clearly made no attempt to do so. The complainant has received numerous funds transfers from at least three sources in the UK over a period of ten years using the details supplied, without any issues ever having been raised; only Equiniti Paymaster has failed to make payment. For several months, no payment whatever was received from Equiniti Paymaster (with the exception of several unwanted UK cheques that they should have known could not be presented in Mexico).
(prolonged intransigence and unresponsiveness) That, following their rejection of the OPM on 11th January 2016, Equiniti Paymaster has made effective communication with them impossible. Although the complainant has made every attempt to further explain the requirements for Mexico in order to persuade Equiniti Paymaster of the veracity of his statements, no explanation or any other information has been received from them, after waiting for many weeks. Indeed, Equiniti Paymaster appears to have been deliberately obstructive in denying the use of email. This situation has persisted even after efforts made by Veterans UK to liaise with Equiniti Paymaster and persuade them to communicate directly with the complainant by email; no further communication or payment was received by the complainant from Equiniti Paymaster until radio silence was unexpectedly broken on 8th April 2016.
(failure to correct currently-available OPM) That Equiniti Paymaster failed to review and correct the online OPM (and presumably any sent by post) when it was clearly necessary to do so. This should have been done when the completed OPM sent by the complainant was first received (probably late October 2015). His subsequent clear statements on the requirements for Mexico went unheeded, and to date the online OPM has still not been updated. The effect of this failure is to leave others exposed to the same problems that the complainant has experienced.
Throughout this period of several months, the assiduous efforts that the complainant has made in connection with the failures of Equiniti Paymaster contrast sharply with the gross negligence, cavalier disregard for plain facts, incommunicativeness, and total unconcern on their part.
Consequences of the Above Failings
Having sent the correctly-completed initial application form by DHL signed-for letter on 6th June 2015, and done his competent best to expedite the process since, the complainant had every reason to expect payment of the Terminal Grant and subsequent pension on his 60th birthday on 13th September 2015. Notwithstanding the early delays due to slow post from the UK, the completed OPM sent on 8th October 2015 should have enabled payment to be made in late October or early November 2015 (or in the alternative, late December 2015 or early January 2016, if one accepts the unlikely claim that the OPM was not received by 22nd December 2015). This situation ended only with an out-of-the-blue email on 8th April 2016, followed by payment on the following 18 April.
In consequence of this delay and the general behaviour of Equiniti Paymaster, the complainant has suffered considerable and prolonged stress, resulting from:
- financial problems, as this failure has come at a difficult time
- worry about if or when his pension will ever be paid
- anxiety arising from endless preoccupation, such as waiting for responses and repeated checking of his bank balance
- frustration in having to deal with the intransigency and unresponsiveness at Equiniti Paymaster, who will not accept clear statements of fact.
In addition to the stress, the complainant has also suffered significant financial losses. As a result of the nonpayment, the complainant has on two occasions had to liquidate assets to his financial detriment; this is both to provide for his everyday needs, and more recently to pursue his case against Equiniti Paymaster. Apart from this, there will be losses arising from inflation and the likely unfavourable exchange rate by the time the payment was received.
The complainant has also spent considerable time in dealing with the misconduct of Equiniti Paymaster; in research, preparing carefully-worded responses to them, and dealing with his case. As he lives in a relatively remote area without internet access or even a landline, he has had to frequently travel to the city centre to obtain the resources needed to expedite his application. For several months, this matter has dominated his life.
The above are the results of one case of quite unbelievable intransigence by Equiniti Paymaster. This company has been in complete denial over the patently ridiculous OPM for Mexico that it created. It behaves as a law unto itself, without regard for either the organisation for which it acts, or those dependent on its payments. It appears to believe that by continued stonewalling, it can avoid having to acknowledge any fault and evade its obligations, with the pensioner coming off second-best. The complainant in his painstaking communication with them has been treated with contempt by those at Equiniti Paymaster.
But he can hardly be the only one in this situation. It seems that payments to perhaps needy and vulnerable people can be denied on the say-so of those responsible for the fiasco here. And the complainant believes that the issues here do not just result from one or two individuals, but are indicative of serious corporate failings.
For all these reasons, the complainant seeks not only full and fair compensation for himself, but in addition punitive damages to be awarded against Equiniti Paymaster to deter further misconduct and consequent misery for others.