Questions Of Cash: 'Confusion over online flights left us high and dry'


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: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

    £35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

    Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - City of London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Debt Collector - Multiple Roles

    £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks