Consumer rights: How can an air fare jump £300 in just a few minutes?
It pays to check online prices for air travel before you click the 'confirm' button...What happens when a builder demands money up front
Sunday 30 January 2011
I'm a young Australian woman studying in London. After 18 months here I was really looking forward to a trip home this Christmas.
I found a London-Sydney return ticket for £1,544.57 with Virgin on its website. I clicked the confirm button with that price showing on the screen. Within a few minutes I was emailed a receipt – but the amount that had been charged to my credit card was £1,833.67.
The extra £300 was a shock to me on top of an already expensive ticket. I went through the beginning part of the booking process again. Again the price on the site was £1,544.57 for my chosen date and time. I made a "print screen" snapshot of the price. I called Virgin's customer service, but was told no one was available to help me over the phone. Instead I would need to email Virgin's back office and would get a reply within 21 days. A month and half later, after I'd already flown to Australia I received my first reply.
The customer service representative told me that Virgin updates its prices on its website throughout the day and that the fare must have been updated from £1,544.57 to £1,833.67 after I'd first entered my details. But if that's the case, why did the ticket show £1,544.57 the second time? Essentially Virgin is suggesting that its price jumped £300 and back over the space of about 15 minutes. The customer service representative also advised me that since I had agreed to Virgin's terms and conditions, and they don't guarantee the fare price, there was nothing she could do.
As I understood it, when I pressed "confirm", I entered into a contract for £1,544.57. As a student, £300 makes a painful difference. Is Virgin in the right?
I can see why almost £300 extra on the cost of your ticket made a difference to your student budget. It would have made a difference to most people. Since you wrote, I've received copies of all the correspondence you've had by email with Virgin and read the explanation it gave you as to why this happened. It told you that its independent database is updated constantly throughout the day; when you go to step two of the online booking procedure the system then determines the exact availability at that time; and at step three, if the original fare quoted is no longer available, the website displays the next available fare.
I've now been in touch with Virgin on your behalf, and while I still don't fully understand why the fare quoted could have increased and decreased again in such a short space of time, its statement says: "Virgin Atlantic fares fluctuate constantly due to passengers and agents holding and booking flights around the world. The website clearly advises that fares are not guaranteed until payment is made and accepted and unfortunately in this instance, the fare changed in between the passenger selecting the price and actually paying. To ensure customers are happy with their booking, the website also asks all customers to check over the booking details and accept our terms and conditions before clicking the confirm button. Our customer services team is in contact with Mrs Lopez as we do appreciate her disappointment and on this occasion, as a gesture of goodwill, we will refund the difference."
Your experience underlines the importance of checking the fare price at each step of the way and reading the booking details and the terms and conditions before clicking "confirm".
I've been looking for a good builder to put in a new bathroom for me and got a reasonable quote from someone a friend recommended. I'd be happy to go ahead but he's asking for money before he starts the work. This is to buy the bathroom suite, tiles and other materials he needs. But how do I know that any money I pay him will be used on my job? What's to stop him using it for a different job and leaving me without the work done?
We are always being told to be careful and not pay out money until the work is done satisfactorily. But not all builders are rogues or out to rip you off. Think about this from the builder's point of view. If he pays for the materials he could have problems getting the money from you and be out of pocket. Builders do usually ask for at least some of the money for the materials up front. Alternatively they may ask you to buy the materials.
If you're concerned, why not suggest that you pay for the materials and have everything delivered to your home. That way, even if this particular builder doesn't do the work you'll have everything you need to get the job done. You then pay for the work he does in stages – perhaps half when half the work is done and the rest on completion. If there are any snags you can always withhold an amount out of the final payment until they've been put right. If this builder comes recommended, ask your friend how he or she paid for the work and ask to see the end product. Check the builder's insurance and any trade bodies he belongs to.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Consumers given power to choose a green deal
Mark Dampier: A safe harbour if the market recovery has overreached itself
'Scrap the trap': calls for change grow as banks are told to play fair with loyal savers
Bargain Hunter: Eurostar offers child fares for £1 each way to Paris, Brussels and Lille
Relaxed pensions rules: Guide to what they mean to you
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
iJobs Money & Business
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...
Day In a Page
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square