Questions Of Cash: Atol needs all facts before spending public cash


Q. I booked a holiday in spring last year using flights with Goldtrail, which collapsed last summer. We have been waiting ever since for the refund. It was difficult for us to know how much the flights cost, as they were lumped together with hotel and a cruise, booked through a travel agent.

We have been asked for further information by the Civil Aviation Authority and it is difficult to know what else anyone could want. We have sent copies of bank statements, our credit card statement and a copy of the cheque. The holiday deposit was £775.20, which we paid in April by credit card, and the balance of £2,296 was paid on 14 June by cheque. We had to pay an extra £1,196 in July for replacement flights. SM, Gwynedd.

Q. In July last year I bought two return air tickets to Bodrum, Turkey, flying with Goldtrail and booked through a travel agency. Two days later, Goldtrail went bust. The agency insisted I had to wait for my refund to come through Atol which I was promised would take 12 to 16 weeks. More than six months later, I am still waiting. The travel agency has been uncontactable and offered no guidance on when I might receive a refund. The total cost of the flights was £524.28, and has been on my 22 per cent APR credit card since.

In December I received a letter from a company called Huntswood, acting for the CAA, requesting additional information. This is the only correspondence I have had. When I phone on the number provided there is an automated response telling me they can't speak to me now, and then cuts me off. As well as the refund for the flights, I want the CAA to pay for the interest I have had to pay on the cancelled flights. OM, London.

A. When Goldtrail collapsed, PwC was appointed administrator, but refunds were the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority under the terms of Goldtrail's Atol bonding. Claims to the CAA must be processed via the travel agency – which caused problems for both readers. The CAA said it would normally process refund claims more quickly than with the Goldtrail collapse.

It explains: "Goldtrail's failure was unusual: it is rare for a travel operator to go into administration at the height of the summer, which unfortunately meant more people than usual were affected and the CAA is sorry to hear of your readers' experiences. Our number one priority is making sure people get their money back as quickly as possible. There are still a few claims to be paid and we hope to have these settled in the very near future.

"The Atol scheme is unlike an insurance policy: the funds available is public money held by the Air Travel Trust. Therefore a sufficient amount of evidence is needed to support a claim in order to validate it and pay it. If a claim is incomplete, with items such as receipts and proof of payments missing, the process can be slowed significantly as we try to establish the validity of the claim, and ensure public money is spent fairly."

Both readers' claims have now been processed, after a wait of more than six months. But the CAA is unable to pay any compensation for indirect losses, such as the cost of borrowing the money to pay for the flights.

Q. I have been charged high fees by Smile bank. It initially charged me £30 for a failed direct debit payment to my mortgage lender, First Active, which charged me an additional £25. I have two accounts with Smile, each with a fee-free overdraft of £500. My mortgage is paid by monthly direct debit on the first of each month.

At 8.30am on 1 February I logged into Smile internet banking. My first account had a negative balance of £700 because my mortgage direct debit had been processed. I immediately transferred funds from my other Smile account, so that both accounts were in credit. At some point after this, Smile claimed the money back from First Active, causing me to miss a mortgage payment, and charged me £30 pounds. I complained to Smile, which agreed to waive its fee, but it has not admitted any wrongdoing, nor offered to pay the £25 that First Active charged for the missed payment. I am angry with Smile as presumably it reclaimed the direct debit during business hours on 1 February, by when there were sufficient cleared funds in my account. ST, by email.

A. The Co-operative Bank, which owns the Smile brand, says the direct debit payment was returned to your account on 1 February because there were insufficient funds in your account. "Although [the reader] transferred funds into his current account on 1 February, our terms and conditions make it clear that sufficient funds should be available at 9pm the working day before a payment is due to be made," the bank said. "If sufficient cleared funds are not available at this time, we may decline to make a payment out of an account and the associated charges will apply. This is because many of our processes are automated."

Smile has waived your £30 fee because it has a policy that it will not invoke charges where a customer exceeds their limit only once in a year. However, it does not accept it made an error, so it is "not in the position to refund the charge incurred from the mortgage company". The bank adds that it if you had warned Smile before the due date of insufficient funds, it could have arranged to authorise the payment manually.

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

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Market Risk & Control Manager

    Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam