Consumer Rights: On a wing and a prayer with holiday vouchers
A long wait for reimbursement from Thomas Cook ... A faulty laptop from Currys and the 'red herring' of warranties ... Freeholders fall out over service charges
Sunday 22 March 2009
I booked a holiday with Thomas Cook using £500 of vouchers I had collected. The sales staff, though, explained that I had to pay in full by credit card, send the vouchers in the post and my card would be credited as soon as possible. I dutifully sent these vouchers, paying for special delivery, and Thomas Cook took receipt on 8 October. My card has still not been credited and I have had to pay interest on the balance.
I phoned Thomas Cook 10 times, and every time someone promised to get back to me and never did. I emailed as well and the only thing I received was an acknowledgement of that message. The one person I spoke to said I should have sent the vouchers to a different address from the one I was told.
Nearly six months later, my £500 is still missing.
With the travel industry in turmoil, it is surprising to find cases of poor customer service. It seems ridiculous that companies wouldn't be doing all they can to keep their clients happy, but sadly, as in your case, it doesn't always work that way.
That said, Thomas Cook acted very promptly once we got in touch. It has now written and apologised, refunded the money to your credit card and given you an extra £50 to cover your costs. It hopes that this will to some extent restore your faith in Thomas Cook.
I recently bought a Hewlett- Packard laptop from Currys and within a week the "enter" key had come away from the keyboard.
I phoned the Currys helpline. It logged the fault and told me to take the laptop back to the store along with a reference number. I did this and I was told the laptop wasn't covered for this kind of fault as they classed it as damage. The manager said that if I took out Currys' £6-per-month extended warranty plan, he could sort it out and I would get the repair done. I declined and took my laptop home.
Later I contacted Hewlett- Packard by email and received a prompt reply stating that it would carry out repairs under warranty. Should I have gone to HP in the first instance? Surely Currys must bear some responsibility rather than simply trying to get more cash from people?
Retailers spend a lot of time hiding behind warranties. As I've highlighted many times before in this column, retailers have to provide goods that are "fit for purpose", regardless of the existence or otherwise of warranties.
Currys reacted very differently to Thomas Cook, sticking with the line that a key falling off is "usually caused by misuse or accidental damage". It is difficult to understand the implication here. Is Currys suggesting that you deliberately picked the key off? Or that the key is only designed to withstand a certain amount of pressure? It is hard to see how either scenario is more likely than one where the key simply fell off because it wasn't attached properly in the first place.
Currys' full response was as follows: "We are very sorry to hear of your reader's problems with the Hewlett laptop he purchased from us and that he is dissatisfied with the way his issue has been handled, for which we apologise. A key falling off is usually caused by misuse or accidental damage, which is not covered by the manufacturer's warranty."
This says all you need to know about the effort Currys puts into its after-sales service. Fortunately your laptop is now back in working order after HP agreed to mend it. For Currys to imply that you needed to buy an extended warranty to deal with an already broken laptop is poor and you were right to reject the offer.
I am a joint freeholder on my flat and a co-director of the management company that owns the freehold. This firm levies the service charge from which all bills are paid.
One of the other joint freeholders, a developer, has not paid the last three instalments of the service charge and is now several thousand pounds in arrears. The remaining three freeholders are worried that we will have to pick up that share of the bills. What can we do to reclaim the money?
This is a common problem. Many developers work on the basis that they buy a property, do it up and sell it in the space of three or four months, so don't have to trouble themselves with boring things like service charges. The current environment has left them with unsold properties on their books and many are holding out on service charges for as long as possible. A tip for anyone considering buying from a developer is to check for outstanding charges.
Of course, it's illegal not to pay them. Your first step should be to write to the debtor, asking him to settle the outstanding amount by a certain date. If the claim has to go to court, you will have to show that you have done all you can to reclaim the money. Ingrid Gubbay, a consumer law consultant at Hausfeld & Co, says many agreements will state that the debtor is liable to pay any legal costs associated with recovery of service charges, but check your documents.
Ms Gubbay adds: "Disputes about service charges can be referred to the low cost Residential Property Tribunal Service at www.rpts.-gov.uk, which offers a dispute-resolution process. You could also contact the national mediation helpline." However, if the dispute is simply a claim against the defaulting freeholder (rather than his liability to pay the charges), you will need to lodge a claim in the County Court for the balance owing plus interest and any legal costs.
If your claim is over £5,000, it will be allocated to what is called the "fast or multitrack" section. Information leaflets to take you through the steps can be found at www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
lifeIt takes year-long dedication to get Selfridges ready for 25 December. And they're already working on plans for 2015...
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Ian Watkins: Paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences, as judge labels him a 'dangerous sexual predator'
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Ethan Couch: Texas quadruple murderer – or a victim of ‘affluenza’?
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Implementation...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.