Questions of Cash: Bupa costs bore no relation to what I'd been quoted


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The Independent Online

Q. I decided to cancel my health-insurance policy with Bupa, which was costing me nearly £90 a month. However, when I contacted Bupa I was persuaded not to cancel and instead reduce cover at a monthly cost of £28.59, with an increased excess of £2,000. It was agreed that the new arrangements would take effect from May, when my next payment was due.

But when the new payment schedule came through, this listed my monthly payments as £58.96 from May to August. I phoned Bupa and was assured the May payment would be for the £28.59, not £58.96. In fact, £50.46 was taken from my account by Bupa. I phoned Bupa and was promised a refund of £21. A new payment schedule arrived a few days later, which stated I would pay £6.72 on 10 June and £28.59 on both 10 July and 10 August.

Then I received a membership certificate dated 17 May, stating that my annual subscription would be £820.12 – this figure bore no relation to any others I had been quoted, nor to my original subscription. Soon after I received another membership certificate, quoting this time an annual premium of £731.90, which again bore no relation to any other figures I had been given. Since then, all I have received are "holding" letters from Bupa. I've still not had the promised refund and have had to cancel my direct debit to Bupa as the premiums are higher than I budgeted for. HP, by email.

A. Bupa agreed a reduced subscription for the rest of your contract. Its spokeswoman said: "We would like to apologise as the level of customer service [the reader] has received does not reflect our usual standards. In recognition of the errors made, we have arranged for a refund of £21.87 to be made for May's payment. In addition, we have waived the payments for June, July and August."

In its letter to you, Bupa says the membership certificates showed the correct subscription costs for the period September 2013 to September 2014, with the second showing lower premiums in line with the agreed revised payment terms. You tell us you remain unhappy, challenge parts of the explanation provided by Bupa and are unlikely to renew the contract on expiry.

Q. Two sets of return flight tickets between London City airport and Paris Orly were booked by mistake. One set was booked with Air France and the other through online travel agency When I contacted Air France, I was told it was unable to cancel the tickets or process the refund and that the request must come through When I spoke to it told me it was unable to get through to Air France to make the cancellation or request a refund. I realise I will not get a full refund, but I would like a partial refund on one set of tickets. AF, by email.

A. We expected this would be a simple matter to resolve – instead it took two months. You have now received a refund of £145.62, with which you are satisfied – even though it is less than the full amount you paid. It is only because Air France has been very helpful that any refund was obtained. The first complication (which you failed to mention to us in your email) was that while one person was named on both sets of the tickets, the second person had the same surname on both sets of tickets, but a different first name.

The second complication was that failed to respond to any of our repeated enquiries. did not, in fact, purchase the tickets from Air France, but instead did so via another travel agency, STA Travel. We then contacted STA which told us: "STA Travel issue the tickets on behalf of fly, but we are not able to process refunds on their behalf."

Eventually, Air France received a request from, unlocking your refund. Unfortunately, that was still not the end of the story. During the time it took to make progress, the credit card you used for the purchase expired. After you notified of the details of a new credit card, the refund was processed and received by you.

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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