Questions of Cash: A pipe burst and we called a plumber. The charge for 70 minutes: £1,139

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The Independent Online

Q. We had a serious water leak at 3am, after a pipe burst in the bathroom. We called out London Emergency Plumbers, on 0333 259 6258, which is based in Bedford. The company required our credit card details upfront.

We have been charged £1,139 for a visit lasting 70 minutes. I tried to dispute the high fees, but I was told that everything is automated and dealt with by head office – and we would need to discuss the matter with management. But they never seem to be available.

The leak seems to be fixed, but I'm not happy about the cost. CT, London.

A. We have featured London Emergency Plumbers before (Questions of Cash, 12 July 2014 and 18 May 2013), and have warned consumers about its practices. We had hoped it had ceased trading: sadly, it has not. Two years ago a reader was charged £1,058.40 for a call-out. Last year a reader was charged £132 for requesting a call-out that was cancelled.

When, on this occasion, we called the 0333 number, it rang as unobtainable. We did manage to contact the company on a website-advertised 0845 number. We were told that no manager was available to talk to us. Although we asked to be phoned back, our call was not returned.

We tried on a further two occasions and both times the call went to a voicemail message saying no one could take the call or accept messages.

The website contains a notice that the company is subject to an enforcement order, granted 18 months ago by Luton County Court. This should be sufficient warning for potential clients – but, understandably, customers do not read all the details on a website at 3am with water pouring through their ceiling.

We do not believe that the charges imposed by the company are fair or reasonable, and we would urge readers not to use this company.

Your bill was paid by your wife and we contacted her credit card issuer, the Halifax. A spokeswoman for the bank said: "We were able to resolve this fairly quickly as [the reader] sent the relevant documents through and our disputes team were able to offer a refund of £489.19, which was accepted by [the reader]."

While this is better than it might have been, it still means you and your wife paid £649.87 for a short call-out from a plumber.

Q. I regularly use Air Europa to send my children from London to Madrid. They were booked to go on 17 December 2014, but on 15 December I was in court in London, as my children have accused their mother, who lives in Madrid, of hitting my youngest son.

It was agreed in court that I accompany my children to Madrid, and that either I, or an agreed third party, be present with them at all times. But their mother did not follow through on this agreement, so in the end the kids did not travel to Spain.

Air Europa says there is no refund available, leaving me with a loss of £430. My situation may fall outside its rules, but I believe this is a situation that warrants a refund. AN, London.

A. An Air Europa spokesman said: "We sympathise with [the reader's] difficult personal situation, but unfortunately the tickets he purchased were non-refundable – as highlighted in the terms and conditions that [the reader] agreed to at the time of confirming his reservation. "

We noticed that nothing was said about repaying the air passenger duty, which was included in the ticket price. Air Europa then confirmed that you are entitled to a refund of this and that the airline, unlike some of its rivals, does not impose an administration charge for handling the refund. Contact your ticket seller to apply for it.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we'll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at:

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