Cancelling Direct Debits with N26

I wanted to cancel a Direct Debit from my N26 account, and couldn’t find any reference to it in the app, so I contacted customer care.

Here’s the process they explained to me to cancel a Direct Debit:

  1. Download the form https://docs.n26.com/cs/N26DirectDebitBlockEN.pdf form their site, and fill in the details the Creditor ID or Merchant Reference
  2. Ensure the form has your physical handwritten signature on it
  3. Scan the form, and email to support(Replace this with the @ sign)n26.com
  4. N26 will then cancel the Direct Debit for you

There’s no help within the app or website that tells you the Creditor ID or Merchant Reference for an existing Direct Debit. Neither of these values are listed against a transaction, so you need to find them elsewhere.

I checked the website of the company that I was paying my Direct Debit to, and their Creditor ID was listed – so I was able to the get the value fairly easily.

The Creditor ID is a unique reference that identifies an organisation collecting payments through a  SEPA Direct Debit, and is usually issued by the organisation’s bank. It reads a bit like an IBAN, but may be shorter, with a mixture of letters and numbers. The Direct Debit Mandate form – whether electronic or paper – should show the Creditor ID on it.

Here’s an extract from the Bank of Ireland SEPA Direct Debit Creditor’s Guide that explains the Creditor ID format:

I’m not sure how you find out the Merchant Reference! If you find out, let me know!

Reversing Direct Debits already paid

If you want to initiate a refund on a Direct Debit that has already been paid, you can do this from within the mobile app:

  1. Tap on the Direct Debit transaction to view the details
  2. Scroll to the bottom and select the option “Initiate refund”
  3. Send the request

N26 state that the money will be returned to your account within 2 banking days.

Screenshot of N26 app, with “Initiate refund” option highlighted

Non-Irish banks and eir

I was on the phone earlier to the telecoms operator eir to change something related to do with my mobile phone contract, and for some reason they requested that I give them my payment details again.

I gave them my details – both the 16 digit number from my debit card and the IBAN for my account – but their system wouldn’t accept either. The problem? They’re for an account run by the German-based mobile bank N26.

eir don’t seem able to accept payment instructions over the phone from non-Irish banks. Instead their direct debit instructions indicate that you have fill in a paper-based mandate form and either post it or fax it (but not email – they don’t accept email) to their office in Clonakilty in Co. Cork.

The Single European Payment Area (SEPA) regulations that came in around 10 years ago are meant to allow customers to make cashless payment in Euros to anyone located in any of the Eurozone counties. So, you should be able to receive your salary into any Eurozone bank account, and may payments to any company around Europe using your IBAN.

It’s entirely possible for business to accept verbal instructions for SEPA direct debits over the telephone and electronically, but for some reason eir doesn’t support this.

To resolve the matter today my customer care agent suggested that I get a friend to volunteer the use of their Irish bank card to set up payment on my account, and then arrange to switch over to my German bank over the next few days.

I asked whether he could guarantee that my friend would not be inadvertently charged for my mobile service, and he said yes. I then asked, if that was the case, whether the agent himself would be willing to use his own personal bank card to set me up. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t keen!

Lack of price transparency in veterinary care

Think of the last time you took your cat or dog to the vet. Did you know what it was going to cost before you went? Did you shop around?

Caring for a much-loved family pet can be very expensive. The ITV program Pets: The True Cost – Tonight was on last night, and revealed that the an average dog can cost its owners £33,000 (€38,000) over the course of its life, and a cat costs around £24,000 (€27,500).

Vet bills can quickly mount up, especially if your pet has a serious illness or accident. And people don't always realise that their pet insurance may not cover all the treatment costs.

I checked our pet insurance last night, and it only covers the first €4,000 of treatment in a year. And while that may seem like a decent amount of cover, an MRI scan for your dog costs €1,000, before you've even get to the cost of surgery and after-care. And do you really want to deny your pet some treatment because you can't afford it?

No published prices

Part of the problem that contributes towards surprising vet bills is that vets themselves don't publish their prices. Go on, do a search online (I'll wait), and see if you can find any prices listed on a vet's website. I couldn't find any.

The only way (besides bringing your animal in for treatment) is ring around a few vets and get a quote for a specific procedure or treatment – that's if you even know what your pet needs. And even then the people on the phone can be a bit evasive about what is or isn't included in that price – which makes it hard to compare costs.

My wife was trying recently to get prices for routine booster inoculations and for a scale/polish of our dog's teeth, and called three vets to get a quote. The prices varied hugely between the different vets, and there didn't seem to be any pricing consistency within any single veterinary practice. One vet would be the cheapest for one procedure, but also the most expensive for another.

So the only way to get the cheapest treatment, if you're concerned about costs, is to take your animal to different vets for different treatments. But if you do, where's the continuity of care? What happens if a new vet doesn't have access to historical medical records?

It's little wonder that pet owners often pick one vet – often based on location, or a personal recommendation – and stick with them for everything their pet needs, even though they often have no idea what any of the treatment might end up costing. 

Free Revolut cards in Ireland

I just got an email from Revolut to say that they're offering the next 10,000 to sign up in Ireland a free prepaid Mastercard. 

It's apparently to celebrate Revolut opening an office in Ireland. And instead of the usual €6 fee to order the first card on the account, they are going to wave this fee.

Revolut is great for anyone who travels, or who orders anything from abroad. The mobile app-based prepaid credit card offers much better exchange rates than a traditional banks, credit cards, or foreign currency exchanges.

My wife and I used the card extensively on a holiday to the USA a few months back, and must have saved about a hundred euros in currency transfer fees. I also use the card to buy things in pounds sterling from Amazon.

How much can I save?

At the time of writing, buying something from Amazon costing £50 will cost you:

  • €58.07 if you choose to pay in Euros rather than Pounds at the Amazon checkout
  • €57.38 if you pay with a Bank of Ireland card
  • €55.81 is you pay with a Revolut card

I don't know about you, but I'd rather keep that couple of euros difference! 

What other features does it have?

  • Mobile app to control your account
  • Instant loading of funds using your debit/credit card
  • Multiple wallets in different currencies
  • Buy and sell Crypocurrencies
  • Transaction notifications on your phone
  • Premium card option with additional benefits
  • Gadget and travel insurance available
  • Physical and virtual mastercards
  • Security options, and ability to set spending limits and change PIN

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