I have a policy with Friends Life that was due to mature on my 75th birthday, which was almost two years ago.

At the time I was with family in the Falkland Islands. I emailed Friends Life telling it that I wished to draw down the money due to me. Nothing happened.

Subsequently, Friends Life said it could not act on my request as it did not have the relevant forms. They were, of course, in the UK.

I had explained during expensive calls from the Falklands that the forms would have been sent elsewhere, but Friends Life did not acknowledge such calls.

It then appeared that the company was happy to extend the drawdown provision to the following year. It required a financial consultant to register with it. Subsequently it said that the new deadline had been missed.

On the advice of my MP, I took the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Friends Life informed the ombudsman that the application for drawdown and for investigation by it were not possible because the deadlines had expired.

The only offer now from Friends Life is an annuity and no drawdown amount. Since I will need to live to at least the age of 105 to receive the full amount of this pension fund by an annuity I feel this is ridiculous and derisory.

Is there a way in which you can help me to untangle this please?

GG, Somerset

You first contacted Friends Life about taking your pension as a one-off payment in September 2015. You then went to the Falklands on an extended visit and, although you tried to handle the matter from there, Friends Life continued to write to you at your address in Britain.

Nearly two months after my involvement it agreed to pay £5,498 for the tax-free lump sum at issue and a £16,185 net payment in the way you chose, which included interest. It has agreed to do this because you had contacted it before your 75th birthday.

Relevant forms were then sent for you to fill in. It also told me it was paying £750 in recognition of the trouble and upset caused.

Friends Life said that when you first contacted it, it incorrectly assumed you were now a resident in the Falkland Islands. As a result it sought to obtain all the ID it needed to make an address change on its systems.

This involved writing to you at the UK address it had on the files. The case got caught up in what Friends Life described as a “checklist process” and was going around in circles.

You have at last received the pension money. However, although I was assured by Friends Life that it had paid you the £750, it turned out that it had not done so.

With further chivvying, two-and-a-half months after it had been promised, it has now also been paid. You have also been sent some flowers.


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