So, I needed to cash out my Liberty Life investment in March last year, in 2012. I had taken a 5 year investment plan with Liberty Life with a lump sum investment 3 years before. I’d seen a financial advisor upon recommendation by a friend. It wasn’t a particularly large lump sum investment, and had grown only 15% in 3 years, but I needed to cash it out to pay a backlog of rent that I owed, asap. The financial situation was quite urgent.
I’d been able to check in a yearly report that I received in the post, and also online, that even though I hadn’t lasted the full 5 years I had invested the lump sum for, I was allowed to cash out already.
I phoned my financial advisor only to find that she no longer worked there. I was given a different phone number.
I phoned the place (which wasn’t my bank or any bank) and they took my number down, telling me that a financial advisor from my bank would contact me that same day. A financial advisor from the bank did contact me that day. So far so good.
The financial advisor advised (ha ha) that I go straight to Liberty Life in East London, South Africa, in person, taking my policy number, ID document, a letter or statement from my bank showing the bank’s stamp and my residential address, and proof of residential address with me, and speak to them about cashing out my Liberty Life investment. Still so far so good.
Even the visit to Liberty Life in East London went well. It was quick, easy to fill in the policy surrender form, and I was told the money would be in my bank account within 5 to 7 business days.
9 business days later and I started to become concerned. The financial situation was worse and I needed the money asap.
I started to browse around online and became even more concerned. I found many people complaining about service from Liberty Life and many people who had complaints about how long their monies were taking to come through after they had surrendered their account or investment. Well, there were not too many complaints about cashing out investments in particular, but there were a wide variety of Liberty Life complaints regarding other Liberty Life insurance, life assurance and policies.
I found a contact email address beneath some of the complaints on Hello Peter, where a Liberty Life employee had replied to the people complaining. I emailed the customer support address over a weekend, so didn’t expect a reply until Monday – although had also seen complaints that people had emailed and were still waiting for a reply more than a week later. Hm. Worrying.
The Monday was 13 days since I had been to see Liberty Life in East London and still no payment into my bank account. So much for the 5 to 7 days’ story.
Expecting more confusion and delays if I went to see Liberty Life in East London again, I decided to simply phone them. Now to find an East London Liberty Life contact number. The online Braby’s was no help: one of the numbers listed there got me through to a residential address, and the other gave me a message that said “this number does not exist.”
Phoned my original financial advisor (who no longer worked at that place) and the receptionist didn’t know the number but gave me the number of somebody who might know it. I phoned and it was the same place that had earlier told me a financial advisor from my bank would contact me. And since that part of the Liberty Life chase adventure had gone well, I felt relieved thinking that these people would have the East London Liberty Life contact number for me. They did! Great!
Phoned the number. A totally unrelated business picked up the phone.
Eventually did what maybe I should have done in the first place: phoned the Liberty Life head office and got the East London Liberty Life contact number from them. At last.
Explained my story to Liberty Life East London and they checked the progress of the surrender of the investment. Apparently there was a computer system error that they would have to sort out before the payment could proceed. I asked if that would take hours, days or months.
I was told it would take just a few minutes, that my money would be in my bank account later that day, and that they’d phone me back within the next 20 minutes to confirm that the system error had been sorted out.
I phoned them back about an hour later. I was told I had not yet been phoned as they were still working on the system error, and that they’d phone me as soon as it was sorted out. I never heard from them again that day, but the money did appear in my bank account later that day.
Cool. All sorted. And it wasn’t all that bad getting it sorted. Went to the bank the next day to transfer money to the person I owed rent to. Needed assistance and stood in a queue for about 40 minutes to get that assistance.
Only to be told, while the person was looking at a computer screen that showed a Liberty Life deposit into my bank account, that I needed to provide confirmation that Liberty Life had paid me the money. Right there on the screen I could see the amount, and that Liberty Life was listed as the place that had made the payment. I’d even drawn a small amount of that amount from an ATM the night before. Not good enough; I still had to bring a letter of confirmation of payment.
Off to Liberty Life in the car.
Liberty Life tells me they have never heard of a bank needing this confirmation of payment letter, but said they could get one for me if I wanted but that it may take about 3 business days for it to arrive at them from head office.
Luckily they suggested that maybe a screenshot of their computer with the payment (that had the word “conf” in it – I presume that was short for “confirm” or “confirmed”) printed out for me, and stamped with their Liberty Life stamp, and signed by one of their staff, would suffice. I said I’d try it.
It worked (after standing in the bank queue again for about another 40 minutes.)
Funnily enough, the next day Liberty Life East London calls us to say they have somebody else there saying they need a confirmation of payment letter for their bank, and they’re curious to know if what they gave me sufficed. We told them it did.
I don’t know how long it would have been before Liberty Life staff noticed the system error on their computer if I had not phoned Liberty Life East London when I did – perhaps that same day anyway, perhaps much longer, but I am glad it all got sorted out, and if I think about it, it didn’t take too long and wasn’t that difficult. When I did get to speak to Liberty Life staff they were helpful and polite.
And I’m really pleased I haven’t ended up being one of those people complaining about Liberty Life on Hello Peter. I do hope all their problems get sorted out soon.
All in all, my experience wasn’t bad, and my communications with Liberty Life went quite well. I even got a reply to the email I thought I shouldn’t expect a reply to before that Monday – on that Monday – and I thanked them for the reply and told them it was all sorted out now.
© Copyright Teresa Schultz 2012 and 2013