Questions Of Cash: 'Confusion over online flights left us high and dry'
Saturday 01 August 2009
Q. In March, I was looking at the easyJet website for flights to Bordeaux for four people, plus car hire. Somehow, by mistake, I booked the flights and car hire. I found a helpline, costing 65p per minute, where the operator told me she could cancel the car hire. But because it was more than 24 hours before I contacted easyJet, it was not prepared to refund the air fares, only the taxes. I have sent four emails to easyJet, without reply. We are pensioners and this is a lot of money, which will affect us very badly. KB, by email.
A. It is very unusual for airlines to agree to refunds in these situations. But easyJet has made an exception, recognising that the error arose from your confusion and apparent unfamiliarity with the internet. As a goodwill gesture, it is crediting you £349.28 to purchase other easyJet flights. You must book the flights by 16 December this year, but there are no other restrictions. EasyJet has no record of your emails requesting a refund.
Q. Our 25-year endowment policy with Norwich Union matured on 7 July. It was to support a loan of £17,814. Our last yearly statement in July 2008 quoted a return of £17,200 if returns remained at 4 per cent. They also quoted for 5 per cent and 6 per cent. At their worst estimate, the policy would be £614 short. On 26 May this year we received a letter from NU asking for bank details to pay the policy, quoting an estimated return of £16,456.21. But on 15 July, a payment of just £15,254.91 was made. The policy lost over £1,200 in three weeks. There was no explanation. BR, by email.
A. Yours is a common problem. Which? expects more than 90 per cent of endowment mortgages maturing this year not to pay-off in full the mortgages. Catastrophic falls in share values severely damaged the value of the policies in the period running-up to maturity. Aviva, the new brand name of Norwich Union, says: "Unfortunately, due to unprecedented turmoil in the financial markets – especially through the second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009 – final bonus rates on this type of policy were reduced with effect from 1 July 2009." Your policy matured five days after this and was adversely affected. Aviva adds: "We have issued annual warning letters that the final amount was unlikely to achieve the target value. However, we cannot confirm the actual shortfall until the terminal bonuses are declared at the end of the policy term. The final bonus on a policy can only ever be estimated throughout the term of a plan and the final maturity calculation was done at [the reader's] maturity date, regrettably, applying the newly declared final bonus rate." The estimate you were given three weeks before maturity used the previous bonus rate, which would have given you a bonus of £2,600, whereas with the revised bonus rate it was only £1,400. Aviva says, while it regrets your shortfall, it was caused by "current economic conditions and is industry-wide", so is "unable to pay towards the shortfall".
Q. Last October I went into an Abbey branch to transfer £66,000 to my account in Australia because of the favourable exchange rate of the Australian dollar against sterling. I was promised the money would be transferred by 3pm that day. When I checked my account a week later I found it had not been made. I returned to my branch, by when the exchange rate had improved further. The manager promised the transfer would be made by 3pm that day. I checked the next day and again the transfer had not been made: within 30 minutes it was. But, by then, the exchange rate had dropped and I lost £5,000 from the delay. I complained to the Financial Ombudsman, who ruled I had not made a loss as the exchange rate used was better than when I first requested the transfer. I was offered £150 for inconvenience and goodwill. I believe the Financial Ombudsman ruled against me because I provided information on the first request, which was background to my complaint. I referred it to adjudication, which confirmed the Ombudsman's decision. I will appeal to the actual Ombudsman, but I have no confidence in his decision. Abbey's offer is derisory given its level of incompetence. SC, Barnstaple.
A. Abbey stands by its view that you made no loss if the entire period of the transaction instruction is taken into account. It says that on the date the funds were credited to your Australian account, 17 October 2008, "the exchange rate was higher than on the previous three days, and higher than all but two of the days between 7 October 2008 and 16 October 2008." The bank adds that the terms and conditions for CHAPS and worldwide payments give it six days to make a payment to a country outside the EU, which it complied with. "Therefore the payment requested on 14 October 2008 was made within the acceptable timescales." We suggest next time you make a transfer of this size you consider using a currency broker, such as HiFX, Currencies Direct or Travelex. You can compare the fees and exchange rates with those of your bank prior to making a transaction. Mark Bodega, a director of HiFX, calculates you would have saved up to 4 per cent (around £2,600) if you had used a currency broker on your previous transfer, because brokers work on smaller margins. You should also be able to arrange an urgent payment, to take immediate advantage of favourable exchange rates. Bodega says: "With HiFX all payments will be transferred on the agreed value date providing we have received your cleared funds and onward payment instructions before mid-day."
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: email@example.com
Donald MacInnes: Who would want to be a Barbie girl in a non-Barbie world?
Mark Dampier: How to get an income now that savings are past the 'use by' date
Thousands of UK investors could lose out following collapse of Secured Energy Bonds
Bargain Hunter: Fly off for a winter break in France or Portugal for well under £100
Millions in line for compensation after being sold unnecessary credit card cover
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
- 3 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
Day In a Page
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion