Questions of Cash: 'Avis wanted its hire car back while we were in mid-air'

And a breakdown in communication with eBay

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The Independent Online

Q I have an issue with Avis.  My partner and I booked a one-way hire car from Whistler mountain to Vancouver airport for 17 April.  We were catching a flight home on that date. I have the original rental confirmation from Avis, which also had our airline confirmation of the flight details. 

The Avis office was short on cars that day and asked if we could make the journey a round trip, but this was obviously impossible. 

It is clear to us that the Avis office changed the rental agreement anyway, because this was then stapled behind the original confirmation. My partner signed the agreement in a rush to get to the airport with our five-month-old son. 

The car was dropped off at Vancouver airport on the afternoon of 17 April. For some reason this wasn’t logged in at Vancouver by Avis, which has charged my credit card £687 for “late fees” and now rejected my appeal for a refund. GH, by email

A This has been successfully resolved. A spokeswoman for the company says: “Avis can confirm that after reviewing [the reader’s] case, a refund of £739.51 has been processed and will appear on the customer’s account in the next five to seven days. [The reader’s] comments have been discussed with the local management team to ensure the situation does not happen in future. Avis would like to apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”

Q I have an issue with an eBay sale, but I am finding it very hard to communicate with the company. 

I have been purchasing items on eBay for some time and recently sold my first item, a mobile phone. The buyer complained that the item was faulty and did not accept his SIM card, and requested a refund. I suggested he try another SIM card as the phone worked perfectly on dispatch. 

The next message from the buyer was to tell me he had posted the phone back to obtain a refund.  On receipt, the charger lead was missing, part of the box was ripped off and all the original internal packaging was missing. I replied that in the circumstances I could not offer a full refund as the item could no longer be described as unused. 

The buyer accused me of lying, falsely claiming he returned it in the same condition as received. This was one person’s word against another’s, but I could prove the phone was working:  I sent the auction site photographs that contradicted the buyer’s claim.

EBay said I could not appeal to it until 29 April.  But on that date, it refunded the buyer automatically and debited my PayPal account.  In addition, it asked me to credit my Paypal account as it was around £10 short. 

The site said it had to refund the buyer automatically as he had sent the item back.  DS, by email.

A EBay has refunded you in full. A spokesman explains: “Thanks for bringing [the reader’s] case to our attention and giving us a chance to investigate. I’m pleased to report that we have refunded the money taken from [the reader’s] account and his postage costs, and cancelled the outstanding invoice, ensuring he will not be left out of pocket.  A review by our customer service team has concluded [that the] buyer did not return the original item and therefore granted the appeal. 

“As an online market, we do not have physical possession of an item at any time, and so rely on the evidence presented to us to make fair decisions. Our ‘money back guarantee’ covers around £35bn worth of purchases each year and, in the vast majority of cases, ensures that buyers can shop confidently in the knowledge they will receive the item they purchased or their money back.”

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