Questions of Cash: Driven round the bend by trip's parking charge
Saturday 27 August 2011
Q. We booked a holiday with Thomas Cook, travelling by car to Disneyland Paris for three nights, then staying in a Paris hotel – the Campanile at Bastille – for four days. Our local Thomas Cook branch booked the trip, including Eurotunnel. We selected the hotel because it provided parking: we were promised by Thomas Cook that parking was included in the hotel price. But at the hotel we were told that our travel agent had failed to book the car parking.
We had to pay extra for the first two days and then find our own parking after that, as there was no space in the hotel car park. We paid an additional £90 for parking and suffered the inconvenience of having to park at a public parking garage some distance from the hotel for the last two nights. I called the emergency Thomas Cook number and was told that there was nothing they could do and that I had to take it up with our local office on our return.
When I wrote to the Thomas Cook branch, it referred the matter to its customer services department. Its replay said it had forwarded my complaint to Disneyland Paris and had closed the case. When I challenged this by email, the email was returned, saying that emailed responses were not accepted and that I must raise a new complaint – which seemed pointless as I had already submitted two complaints. AS, Bishops Stortford.
A. Thomas Cook apologises and has refunded £85 for car parking costs and provided a £75 discount voucher on a future holiday. A spokesman says: "We're really sorry for our error and thank [the reader] again for her patience whilst we resolved this for her."
Q. We are new customers to Sky TV and broadband. We were persuaded to buy a TV catch-up package and a broadband service that are not compatible with each other. We were told that Sky's Everyday Lite broadband service is cheaper than BT, who we were previously with.
This "Lite" service has a 2gb download limit. We wanted a catch-up TV service for all our channels, so were advised to purchase Sky's "Anytime+" service. But it is now clear that the 2gb limit will very quickly be used up with Anytime+, so we need to upgrade to Sky Unlimited Broadband at an extra cost of £7.50 per month.
Sky's sales people did not tell us that Anytime+ would not work effectively with Everyday Lite. Sky's own website states that: "To get started with Sky Anytime+ you'll need Sky Broadband unlimited." We have spoken on two occasions to Sky's cancellation department, which assured us that the two services were "compatible". JH, Birmingham.
A. A spokesman for BSkyB says: "We're sorry if it wasn't clear to [the reader] that Sky Broadband Unlimited is the most appropriate broadband package to partner with Sky Anytime+. Sky Broadband Unlimited is the best choice for the service as it has no data cap or fair-use policies, meaning that customers can get the most out of Sky's video on demand offering. In light of this, we've offered [the reader] a goodwill gesture." You are now able to subscribe to Sky Broadband Ultimate for the price of Sky Broadband Everyday Lite for the first year, saving 25 per cent of the usual service charge.
Q. I am the secretary of a voluntary organisation, having taken over in June when the previous office holder left without notice. Other committee members left at the same time. Our bank – RBS – asked for details of the new signatories. I explained the situation and the bank told me the new signatories would need to attend the branch with passports and driving licences to prove their identity. We did this within 10 days. The bank was very unhelpful and sent another set of papers to be completed.
I complained about the delay, but the bank was unconcerned. As it could give no reason for the delay I escalated my complaint to its customer relations department. I was promised an early response and that I would be notified of progress if the investigation took more than 10 days. I have heard no more, despite this. We have several thousand pounds in the account, which we are unable to access. We might have been forced to close if we did not already have an arrangement in place to pay our creditors by direct debit. RD, York.
A. A spokeswoman for RBS says: "The security of our customers' accounts is paramount, therefore changing signatories for three people involved in an association or club requires the co-ordination of ID checks for all those involved. In this case ID documentation was received from the three gentlemen across June and July. The branch tried to contact [the reader] by phone several times to discuss this, but were unsuccessful. The paperwork is now complete and the new mandate in place. It is regrettable that these delays occurred and we will contact the customer to apologise and resolve this matter."
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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