You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

EXCLUSIVE: NHS secretary is mistakenly charged £56,000 for £169 romantic weekend in Budapest - but Barclays refuses to help leaving her paralysed with debt

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 5 days ago Paul Thompson for MailOnline
© Getty

An NHS secretary who spent a romantic weekend in Budapest with her boyfriend was charged £56,000 for their two night stay. 

Charlotte Smith, 22, was expecting to pay £169.10 for the hotel but was stunned to discover the huge amount had been taken from her Barclays Bank debit card.

With just £400 in her current account, she immediately went massively overdrawn.

a person holding a wine glass posing for the camera: Charlotte Smith, an NHS secretary who spent a romantic weekend in Budapest with her boyfriend Charlie (above), was charged £56,000 for their two night stay © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Charlotte Smith, an NHS secretary who spent a romantic weekend in Budapest with her boyfriend Charlie (above), was charged £56,000 for their two night stay The hotel, who charged her in Euros rather than Hungarian Forints, quickly realised their mistake and refunded the money within minutes but Charlotte was stung by Barclays for thousands of pounds worth of currency exchange fees.

The NHS worker has spent the last week fighting the bank to recoup the £3,500 charge and questioned how such a large amount would not be red flagged.

She was horrified to be told by the bank that they 'could not stop payments on every account' and refused a refund. Instead, they blamed her for approving the transaction.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Charlotte Smith, 22, was expecting to pay £169.10 for the hotel but was stunned to discover the huge amount had been taken from her Barclays Bank debit card. With just £400 in her current account, she immediately went massively overdrawn © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Charlotte Smith, 22, was expecting to pay £169.10 for the hotel but was stunned to discover the huge amount had been taken from her Barclays Bank debit card. With just £400 in her current account, she immediately went massively overdrawn She told MailOnline: 'I have not done anything wrong, but the bank will not help. 

'It is just a complete nightmare. I am overdrawn by almost £4,000 and cannot use my current account.

'It is just so stressful and all Barclays do is threaten me with overdraft payments. 

‘I can’t pay my direct debits for my car, phone and gym membership. I have had to borrow money from my family to cover the cost of travelling to work and was unable to buy presents for my sister and dad’s birthday.’ 

a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: The hotel, who charged her in Euros rather than Hungarian Forints, quickly realised their mistake and refunded the money within minutes but Charlotte was stung by Barclays for thousands of pounds worth of currency exchange fees © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The hotel, who charged her in Euros rather than Hungarian Forints, quickly realised their mistake and refunded the money within minutes but Charlotte was stung by Barclays for thousands of pounds worth of currency exchange fees Charlotte’s financial nightmare began after she had travelled to Budapest in Hungary for a two-night stay with her boyfriend Charlie.

It was their first holiday together and when she went to check out of the BO 18 Hotel Superior on September 1st she handed over her Barclays debit card to settle the £169.10 bill.

The reservation clerk should have charged Charlotte 60,158 Hungarian Forints.

But he mistakenly entered the number amount in Euros – almost £57,000 – and handed her a paper slip from a card reader machine.

Charlotte said she signed off the payment, assuming it was in the local currency. 

a screenshot of a cell phone: Charlotte was forced to take two days off work to try and sort out the problem and contacted a disputes team at the Barclays © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Charlotte was forced to take two days off work to try and sort out the problem and contacted a disputes team at the Barclays a screenshot of a cell phone: Charlotte was forced to take two days off work to try and sort out the problem and contacted a disputes team at the Barclays © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Charlotte was forced to take two days off work to try and sort out the problem and contacted a disputes team at the Barclays

After she and her boyfriend left the hotel the reservation clerk noticed the error and authorised an immediate refund.

In converting the amount from euros to sterling Barclays charged almost £3,000 in transaction fees.

Charlotte, from Rainham, Essex, said she had no idea it was possible for such a large sum to be debited from her account.

It was only when her card was declined in a chemist for a £4 purchase the day after arriving home that she checked her current account and got the shock of her life.

She said: ’I had been debited £56,154.42 by the hotel and then almost immediately £52,768.42 had been paid back in. But that still meant I was left to pay over £3,000 in transaction fees.

‘I only had a couple of hundred pound in the account and was shocked that my bank would take out £56,000.

‘I can’t understand how they could do that as I’ve never had anything like that in the account. They have told me they cannot monitor every transaction but surely such a big amount would have been flagged up to their fraud team.'

a man wearing sunglasses posing for the camera: Charlotte’s financial nightmare began after she travelling to Budapest for a two-night stay with Charlie. It was their first holiday together and when she checked out of the BO 18 Hotel Superior on September 1st she handed over her Barclays debit card to pay the £169.10 bill © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Charlotte’s financial nightmare began after she travelling to Budapest for a two-night stay with Charlie. It was their first holiday together and when she checked out of the BO 18 Hotel Superior on September 1st she handed over her Barclays debit card to pay the £169.10 bill Charlotte, a secretary with the NHS, contacted the hotel in Budapest who confirmed they had made an error in the check out and said they had refunded the full amount.

The hotel said the £3,000 shortfall arose when Barclays converted Euros to Sterling and refused to pay her back the money.

Charlotte said she went to see her local branch of her bank but was fobbed off by ‘patronising staff’.

‘They said as I had authorised the payment it was my fault and the error was all down to me. They were very rude and patronising and didn’t want to help.’

Charlotte was forced to take time off work to try and sort out the problem and contacted a disputes team at the Barclays. 

a screenshot of a cell phone: The hotel blamed the £3,000 shortfall when Barclays converted Euros to Sterling and refused to pay her back the money. Charlotte said she went to see her local branch but was fobbed off by ‘patronising staff’ © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The hotel blamed the £3,000 shortfall when Barclays converted Euros to Sterling and refused to pay her back the money. Charlotte said she went to see her local branch but was fobbed off by ‘patronising staff’

Since then, she has suffered panic attacks and been unable to sleep due to worry about the debt.

'I have had to make dozens of calls trying to sort it out,' she said. 'The Financial Ombudsman can take up to eight weeks to sort out complaints.

‘I was so upset that I was sent home from work and have taken time off to try and sort this all out. There is no way I can pay the money to clear the account.

Gallery: Rip-off Britain: these 10 things are cheaper abroad (Love Money)

'I will be changing banks as soon as this is sorted as they have been no help at all.' 

Charlotte has kept screenshots from her online conversation with Barclays where they told her every transaction cannot be monitored. 

Another screen shot showed how much she would be charged for the unauthorised overdraft. 

a man smiling for the camera: Her predicament is similar to that of Australian cricket writer Peter Lalor who was charged £55,000 for a £5.50 pint of beer by a hotel in Manchester while covering the Ashes series © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Her predicament is similar to that of Australian cricket writer Peter Lalor who was charged £55,000 for a £5.50 pint of beer by a hotel in Manchester while covering the Ashes series

Her predicament is similar to that of Australian cricket writer Peter Lalor who was charged £55,000 for a £5.50 pint of beer by a hotel in Manchester while covering the Ashes series.

Her predicament is similar to that of Australian cricket writer Peter Lalor who was charged £55,000 for a £5.50 pint of beer by a hotel in Manchester while covering the Ashes series © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Her predicament is similar to that of Australian cricket writer Peter Lalor who was charged £55,000 for a £5.50 pint of beer by a hotel in Manchester while covering the Ashes series The staggering sum was taken from his bank account but later refunded by the apologetic hotel. A currency transaction fee of £1380 was also refunded.

Mail Online have contacted Barclays Bank and Hotel 18 for a comment but they have not responded.

MSN UK is committed to Empowering the Planet and taking urgent action to protect our environment. We’re supporting Friends of the Earth to help solve the climate crisis - please give generously here or find out more about our campaign here.


AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Daily Mail

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon