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

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
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

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

    £250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

    Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

    £100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn