Questions of Cash: A cancelled trip becomes a blame game


Q, My wife and I booked a two-week holiday to Thailand, taking our three children aged 13, six and three, flying with Qatar Airways. But a ticketing error meant only four seats were allocated on the airline's list and the flight was fully booked. Qatar Airways suggested we left our six-year-old at Manchester Airport, with him taking a later flight, or we could take a flight 10 days later at an extra £500, which meant the children missing the beginning of the school term. Both options were unacceptable and we returned home. This cost us £2,502.70 for the tickets alone. IA, by e-mail.



A. According to Qatar Airways, the fault lies with your agent, My Vacations, which, it says, made a series of errors in your bookings, culminating in it cancelling a flight for one of your children. Qatar Airways states that My Vacations accepts blame. This is denied by My Vacations, whose proprietor, Raj Kumar, initially told us that the fault lay in confusion between the airline and the agency and this week said: "We haven't done anything wrong". My Vacations has now fully refunded the cost of the tickets to your credit card account. However, you regard this – understandably – as insufficient, given your loss of the holiday and the inconvenience. You are seeking ¿600 (£432) per person compensation. Both Qatar Airways and My Vacations decline to pay compensation, each arguing it is innocent. While there is now a strong system of protection and compensation under European law which penalises airlines that "bump off" passengers by overbooking, these rights do not cover your situation, says Citizens' Advice. My Vacations is not listed as a member of the Association of British Travel Agents so you are unable to use their arbitration system. You have now engaged a solicitor to claim compensation from My Vacations.



Q. We had Sky installed last year, but our terrestrial reception was adversely affected because the Sky engineer attached the dish to our TV aerial instead of the chimney. We made 10 calls trying to get the problem resolved. We got a service visit, but the problem remained. GL, Blackburn.



A.Sky has sent you £30 as a goodwill gesture and offers to pay the bill for an independent contractor to fix the aerial.

Q. I subscribed to Sky on a trial basis, decided I didn't want it and cancelled. But Sky is now threatening me with a debt collection agency. VB, by e-mail.



A. Sky accepts that you made clear you wanted to cancel, though £6.25 was outstanding by Sky's calculations. It has written this off and apologises.



Q. I negotiated a deal that I could take out a Sky Sports package for my father for three months at half price, which was clearly specified in the contract. But the period was charged at full price. My repeated letters have not got anywhere. I have paid £52.50 too much. GC, Enfield.



A You're in luck – Sky calculates the overpayment at even more. It has now credited your account with £102.



Q. I ordered a Ford Fiesta in May from new-car-discount.com, which came in October after repeated delays and only after I agreed to change the colour. I threatened to cancel, but was persuaded by the offer of having bank charges repaid and free mats for the car – which haven't arrived. And the car has not been given the promised coating . WH, Yorkshire.



A. New Car Discount has now coated the car, supplied the mats and refunded £35 in bank charges.



Q. I made a £2,000 investment in a Nationwide one-year fixed-rate bond. I am a non-taxpayer and my return last year was £90.76. Normally, I take the interest and open a new bond, but this time I closed the bond and was credited with just £2,067.29. My branch says that the balance was placed in the wrong account, thereby earning very little interest. AM, Glasgow.

A. Nationwide says that because you gave no alternative instructions, the balance on maturity was placed in a "CapitalBuilder" account, which earns between 2.85 per cent and 3.8 per cent. Nationwide says that it is made clear in the terms and conditions of the bond that this would happen.



Q. I want to get a refund on my Goldfish credit card account for a faulty digital television purchased from Argos in 2005. The set did not work at first, Argos repaired it, but it went wrong again. Argos offered to replace the television with another, but was unable to do so and promised to refund my credit card account. However, it needed proof of the transaction which, despite repeated attempts, I have been unable to obtain from Goldfish. ML, London.



A. Goldfish had difficulties as a result of changes in its IT. It has now located the transaction and is refunding your account with the transaction, recharging Argos.



Q. We rented a house from September last year and have been trying ever since to pay our electricity bill to British Gas. In spite of 20 phone calls we still do not know how much we owe. We are about to move out and are anxious in case BG sends us a massive bill afterwards. RN, Cranbrook.



A. BG says: "It is unacceptable that it has taken us so long to resolve this query." We agree. Apparently the difficulty arose from "an admin error", with wrong meter readings recorded. BG has agreed to write off at least £500 from your bill, subject to talks with you.

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