Questions Of Cash: Can I get money back from extra pension?


Q. I invested in an additional voluntary contributions pension policy, but I am very disappointed at the return. I believe that from April you can withdraw the value of a policy as a lump sum where the total investment is under £15,000. Is this correct?


MA, Birmingham.

A. Donna Bradshaw, a financial planning strategist at IFG Group, says: "While it is true that from 6 April it will be possible to take what are known as 'trivial' pensions as a lump sum - 25 per cent of which can be taken tax-free and the remainder taxable - the figure of £15,000 applies to the total of all pensions from all sources and not each individual pension pot. If the total value of your AVCs, your company scheme and any other schemes is greater than £15,000, you will not be able to take it as a lump sum."

Bradshaw suggests you seek independent financial advice to consider remedies for the underlying cause of your problem - the weak performance of your pension plan - and whether you should move your investment.

Q. I have been billed for £1,300 for scaffolding costs by my insurer, Norwich Union. In February 2005 I discovered the roof of my terraced house was spreading, so scaffolding was necessary to secure the front wall while my claim was investigated. It is unclear when damage began; it may have been while my property was previously insured with Saga, but underwritten by Norwich Union.

The loss adjuster handling my claim against Norwich Union advised me also to claim against Saga because of the uncertainty of when damage occurred, but my claim was rejected by Saga on the basis there was insufficient lateral support for the roof structure. Norwich Union subsequently rejected my claim on the same basis. The same loss adjuster handled both claims.

If my claim against Norwich Union had been rejected quickly, I would not have made the further claim against Saga and I would have had the work done speedily at my expense, saving the cost of the scaffolding. I believe it is unjust that Norwich Union refuses to meet the scaffolding costs.
VH, London.

A. Norwich Union disputes your version of events. It says that from the outset, the loss adjuster advised that while the scaffolding was necessary for safety reasons, your damage had not arisen from an insured peril and the scaffolding costs were therefore not covered by your insurance.

The loss adjuster also advised that as the damage had occurred prior to the beginning of your Norwich Union policy, any further attempt to recover your costs would have to be taken up with your previous insurer. Norwich Union confirms that it believes its original decision was correct. If you wish to challenge this, you need to take it up with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Q. I phoned Flybe to book a flight and was told to transfer to a different number for flight confirmation. I was asked if I was calling from within or outside the UK - if I had called from outside the UK, I would have been given an ordinary phone number, but within the UK you are told to phone an 0871 number. For subscribers to many UK phone services, STD numbers are free, while 0870 and 0871 numbers cost 10p a minute. Surely all callers should have the choice of standard or 0871 numbers?
PH, by e-mail.

A. Your point is valid. Vivian Woodall, chief executive of the Phone Co-op, a telecoms intermediary and supplier, told us: "Call centres using 0870 and 0871 numbers may receive about 3p per minute for daytime calls if they have a lot of volume."

In other words, 30 per cent of your payment for making an 0871 number may be going to the company you are calling. In a statement, Flybe said that using an 0871 number was fairer as it meant all callers paid the same. It added that callers could, if they wished, phone the company on its ordinary phone number.

Q. I have been a 3 customer since 2003. I took out subscriptions for two numbers, one a contract number and a second on the 3togo system. Direct debits were established for both numbers. But 3 overcharged me substantially and claimed £140 on the direct debit for the contract number when bills were less than £50. I asked for a copy of the bills and 3 charged me £5.

After I cancelled my direct debit, 3 tried to claim £207; on non-payment it froze my phone lines. I reluctantly paid the bill to get my phone working again, which then put me massively in credit on my 3togo phone. 3 did not repay the overpayment so I stopped paying the bills and then 3 froze my phones again, losing me work as I am self-employed. I am still receiving bills for the 3togo number months after I tried to close the account.
LK, Reading.

A. Your problems are similar to those of many other 3 customers, who have generated a continuing flow of letters of complaint. 3 accepts that as a result of an administrative error, it entered a payment on the wrong account. As a gesture of goodwill, 3 is waiving all outstanding charges on your account.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?