Questions Of Cash: 'Abbey refused to admit I was a victim of holiday fraud'


Q. I went on holiday to Turkey where I attempted to withdraw cash from a Link machine. My card was retained by the machine: I assumed I had entered the wrong PIN number. I went to the gendarma [police] office opposite to ask advice. I was told where the bank was: they said I should go back the next working day with my passport, when I would get my card back. But when I did this the card was not there. I immediately informed my bank, Abbey, which told me there had been a series of suspicious transactions on my account. On my return, Abbey gave me an extended overdraft to cope with the fraud without incurring charges. I heard nothing for a week and then found even more fraudulent transactions had taken place. I have now lost nearly £1,000 and I earn less than £900 per month. Abbey's fraud department has written saying: "It is the cardholder's responsibility to ensure that the PIN is not discovered... Abbey cannot be held responsible for the loss on your account." SB, by email.

A. Abbey has reconsidered its rejection of your claim and accepts your version of events. It explains it has an appeal procedure, which you did not use. "We were unaware that she was disputing the decision until we received the complaint from The Independent," says an Abbey spokeswoman. Your account has now been reimbursed with the full loss of £898.34. In addition, Abbey will credit your account with £120 as a goodwill payment to reflect the inconvenience you suffered.

Q. A doorstep salesman persuaded me in June last year to save money by switching energy supplier to npower's "fixed price until 2011" tariff. I then received a letter saying it was not possible to go on to that tariff, so npower put us on its "standard electricity" tariff. I phoned npower, whose operative said she did not understand this and would put us on the "fixed 2011" tariff. In November, we received our first statement showing we were on fixed price 2011 for gas, but not electricity. I phoned again and was told this was because we did not have the correct electricity meter, that we needed a new meter and that the account would be corrected when the meter was switched. The meter was changed on 18 November. On 2 December I received a letter saying the electricity tariff had been changed to Economy 7. I phoned again and was told this was a standard letter and not to worry. I was repeatedly reassured that we were actually on the 2011 tariff. When we eventually received the bill, on 30 June this year, we found that we had been put on the Economy 7 tariff until 18 December and only from then on the fixed 2011 tariff. We were promised this would be corrected.

Now we have been told that, in fact, the meter is not compatible with fixed 2011 and that our account cannot be put on the 2011 tariff on a backdated basis. To make matters worse, we now find that our maximum saving would have been to go on to a different meter. We should never have been sold the 2011 tariff. Our electricity prices have gone up on the primary unit rate, the secondary unit rate and the night rate. LR, St Albans.

A. Npower accepts that it should have put you onto a lower rate tariff in December, backdated to the time you switched suppliers. It will now change meters again and give you the option of moving to a more suitable tariff with npower or change to a different supplier. Npower will refund you with the full cost of having been placed on the more expensive tariff. It is also offering you a £75 goodwill payment in recognition of its customer service failures.

Q. I was crashed into on 24 January when a car coming towards me lost control on an icy patch. This damaged my car's wing, the driver's door and rear door. The driver admitted liability. My car was a write-off, though I've bought it back and paid to have it repaired. But the guilty party's insurance company, NIG, is refusing to pay me my excess of £350 and has asked me to prove my version of events. SB, Ashford.

A. A spokesman for the insurer says it is normal to obtain confirmation of an incident and an admission of liability from the insured driver. This did not happen. After we took up your case, NIG quickly agreed to meet your claim in full, without the insured driver's admission of liability, and has paid you the withheld £350.

Q. PayPal claims I owe it £39.13 for an eBay transaction on 16 June. It says that its attempts to get funds from my account were denied by my bank, but that it released funds to the seller – causing my account to have a negative balance. The seller claimed he hadn't received any monies from PayPal. To resolve this I paid the seller through a second PayPal account. PayPal now claims that I paid the seller twice, but that this was not its fault and I should make a claim against the seller. PayPal says I am out of time and has passed the matter to a debt recovery agency. SK, by email.

A. PayPal says the problem was caused by delays by your bank in processing the credit to your PayPal account, which led to the seller believing the payment had not been made. PayPal has now, as a goodwill gesture, reinstated your account to the original credit balance. It suggests you speak to your bank about why it delayed processing your payments on two occasions.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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