Friday, May 15, 2009

Abbey DMO Sheffield explaination

Abbey DMO Sheffield popping up on my business Visa card statement caused me and my accounts lady quite a huge pain the in the bum today. Abbey DMO Sheffield meant nothing to me, and yet in April 2008 they appear to have taken £50 from my business Visa card. I was immediately a bit wary as I've had experience of other businesses using irrelevant and most unhelpful descriptors on their card transactions. For several months in 2007 I was tearing my hair out as amounts of £58 were being taken from my business visa with the descriptive transaction name of 'Norwich Sports Ltd', and living in Ipswich and being far from a sports fan I couldn't think of any other explanation than fraud and theft. As far as I could tell someone had cloned my card and was spending £58 every two weeks in a sports shop in Norwich. In the end I realised the regularity of these payments coincided (give or take a day) with my fortnightly trips to London on the train. It eventually transpired that our local train carrier (then called Anglia Railways, then was called ONE but now called National Express) were charging cards with the descriptor of ‘Norwich Sports’. Not what I would call either helpful or entirely professional. Some companies process card payments through affiliates or parent companies, but they normally have the courtesy to explain at time of purchase that the descriptor on your credit card statement will be different. Hell, even PayPal do that! So why on a discussion of ‘Abbey DMO’ am I talking about misrepresentative descriptors? Read on my friend…

Abbey DMO? But I’ve never banked with Abbey!

After spending a considerable amount of time on the phone with the card services folk at my bank I was none the wiser as to what this mystery payment some five months ago was for and why. In the end the lady I was speaking to at my bank resorted to trying to Google the term ‘Abbey DMO’ to get to the bottom of matters! She found the same results I did, a few threads on forums with other people trying to get to the bottom of the matter, but nothing really helpful. I was given a number to call that would enable me to log this payment as ‘disputed’ and try and get some money back. A few minutes later and a very terse man on the other end of the phone told me that the £50 had indeed been taken by Abbey, but as it was a cash payment (no idea how) then there was nothing they could do to retrieve my money. Since when is using a Visa Debit card considered a cash payment? Surely the very point of using a card is that they are not cash. I hate using cards, but the fact of the matter is that I have to buy a lot of services online (I’m a web professional) and the opportunity to purchase using cash just doesn’t exist.

DMO = Debt Management Office

I’m still not sure how, but I had a strong feeling that DMO was an acronym for ‘debt management office’. This made me even more cross, I mean, if I’ve never banked with Abbey how the hell were they able to charge me £50 for being in debt? Then something occurred to me, I had a moment of clarity, the scales fell from my eyes.

Abbey own Cahoot!

For years now I’ve had a Cahoot flexi-loan, and very happy I have been with it too! In April of this year I had finally had enough of the business bank I was with and their stupid business visa services and left them for a bank that would give me a Business Visa Debit card, hallelujah! In the switch a single direct debit payment to Cahoot was missed. Cahoot wasted no time in contacting their debt management office to pursue me for the fifty quid I owed them. Of course I was annoyed to find out a payment had been missed so I paid the £50 arrears over the phone using my business Visa right there and then. Job done, debt avoided, life simplified. Well at least life would have been simplified if Cahoot had told me that their debt management is handled by their parent company Abbey!


If you have ‘Abbey DMO’ appear on a statement then its worth while finding out just who you bank with or borrow from that are owned by Abbey, I believe the list is quite long! My own conclusion from this is that if large corporates displayed a little more transparency in dealing with people in what is often a very stressful time while customers are struggling to make ends meet we could avoid situations like this entirely. I’m cross that whilst I am very careful not to slip into debt I’ve still had a morning of my time wasted by having to search around to find out who had ‘stolen’ my money!