Questions Of Cash: Costly mix-up over car loan and insurance

Q. I took out private car insurance with Sureterm Direct in April for a car that we had looked at on the internet, arranging insurance to drive it home. When we went to collect the vehicle it was not as described, so we declined to buy it. Sureterm had also arranged finance with Close Premium Finance. We cancelled the insurance and purchased another vehicle two weeks later. Sureterm again arranged the insurance and advised that a new direct debit would be arranged. Close Premium Finance attempted to apply the direct debit on 16 May, but the direct debit had been cancelled along with the insurance – we presume by the broker, as we had not done this. I received a letter from Close on 19 May, stating that no payment had been received. It said that unless a payment was made by 3 June it would take further action.

Close imposed a charge of £40 for administration. I made a payment of £70.88 within the specified time, but I received a letter dated 17 June claiming the payment had not been received and giving me notice of termination and threatening that my insurance may also be cancelled. I phoned Close, which said I must contact the broker to resolve the matter.

Close accepted that the payment they had requested for £70.88 had been received, but then said the administration fee was imposed because the initial agreement had been terminated. Sureterm were very helpful and said that Close had imposed the charge because the payment had not been made on time. Sureterm also said that a new direct debit mandate would have to be sent out for me to complete, but I have not received this. I have also been charged a cancellation fee by Sureterm of £50, even though I took another policy out with them. DE, Liverpool.

A. Sureterm Direct – a division of Capita – says that the initial insurance policy was never cancelled, but was actually kept in place and the vehicle details changed to those of the car you eventually purchased. The £50 charge was the fee for the change of vehicle details. This was cheaper than cancelling the policy and taking out a new one. Sureterm says that it did not cancel the direct debit and that Close told it that it also did not cancel the arrangement. Both had assumed that the direct debit was cancelled by the bank on your instruction. Your payment of £70.88 was received by Close on 4 June – the day after the deadline it had specified. Sureterm has now reinstated the direct debit, so that future payments can be collected. As a result, there is no need for you to complete another direct debit authorisation. As a gesture of goodwill, Close will refund you its £40 charge. Close declined to discuss your case directly with us, citing client confidentiality – even though we were explicitly acting on your behalf.

Q. My flight from Belfast to Birmingham in April was cancelled by Flybe because of volcanic ash. I chose to return home by other means and requested a refund for the return flight. I was told it could take 28 days to process the refund. But I have not had the refund. FM, Birmingham.

A. Soon after you contacted us Flybe repaid you £47.23. However, you had paid £146.96 for the return journey and wanted to know why you had not received much less than half the cost of the return flight. Flybe explains that the two legs of the journey had been priced differently and the £47.23 represents the amount you paid for the Belfast to Birmingham flight, including taxes.

Q. I booked a flight with Virgin Atlantic to fly on 26 March. Unfortunately, due to ill health I had to cancel it, and informed Virgin Atlantic immediately. It promptly refunded the tax, but I need to make a claim for the refund of the flight costs to my insurer, which requires cancellation invoices. I received the necessary cancellation invoice from my tour company in Jodphur by post in nine days, but I am still waiting on this from Virgin, despite many emails and two letters: phoning is pointless as no one can help. Eventually, three weeks ago, I received an email asking for proof of identity and flight details. I sent this immediately by post and a week or so later emailed a copy. But still I have not had a reply. I have received payment from my insurer for the tour, but it will not pay the £600 or so for the flights without the invoice. JW, Leicestershire.

A. Virgin Atlantic apologises, explaining that the volume of refund requests caused by the volcanic ash disruptions has created an administrative backlog. It has taken on more staff to handle these inquiries and has now sent you the invoice paperwork to enable you to submit the balance of your insurance claim.

Q. I read your recent warning (Questions of Cash, 12 June) about fraudulent payments that banks are rejecting responsibility for. My wife and I are concerned at two unexplained debits on my wife's account with Barclaycard. The charges are quite trivial, but we worry that this may lead to future more significant unauthorised transactions. The first transaction was on 21 February, with Waitrose in Chichester for £8.63. My wife was not in Chichester on that date and has never been to that shop. The second was charged against my supplementary card on the same account on 14 April for £14.95, with a payment to Rewardsfirst. I have never had any dealings with Rewardsfirst. I have written five letters to Barclaycard at their head office. One letter of reply refers to an account with a completely different number that is nothing to do with us. CB, Hampshire.

A. Barclaycard has now made a full refund. It has also provided you and your wife with some personal fraud advice and provided a direct line number in case of further fraudulent activity on the account.

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 Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Life and Style
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

    Business Analyst,HR,Halifax,£400-450pd

    £400 - £450 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

    £20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

    Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone