Q. In June last year, I bought two tickets for a Stevie Wonder concert at the O2 arena from a website, tickets4venues.com, paying £233 with a Lloyds Visa card. In August, I received an email from tickets4venues.com saying they were unable to fulfill the order. I am still waiting for a refund. I have sent six emails to the website chasing the refund, but without success. Lloyds has said it cannot refund me because I paid by debit card. EJ, London.
A. We also emailed tickets4venues.com several times, without response. We phoned its number, which rings on to an automated system. Whichever option is picked responds that no operatives are available telling callers to phone its 24-hour line, which charges £1.50 a minute to receive calls. When we phoned that number, the operator promised to pass on the message to phone us, but nothing happened. The phone line used by tickets4venues.com has previously been used by other agencies selling music and sports tickets, including Mayfair Global Events, summerfestivaltickets.com and europeanchampionshiptickets.com. These agencies have been strongly criticised in the press for charging very high prices to resell tickets. Mayfair Global Events claims to operate internationally and its website refers people to a Gibraltar phone number. When we called this number, the person answering said he had "never heard of" tickets4venues.com, adding that "this is just a number I was given a couple of months ago" and that "I am just a consultant in London". He then put down the phone on us. When we emailed Mayfair Global Events, it also denied having any connection with tickets4venues.com.
Mayfair Global Events appears to be a trading name of a company called Durban Vienna Ltd, which is registered at the offices of an accountancy firm in Harrow – they did not return our call seeking further information. According to Companies House records, the last two years' accounts of Durban Vienna are overdue and there is a proposal to strike it off. The Office of Fair Trading declined to comment on rumours that the businesses are being investigated. It did, however, warn consumers about buying tickets from secondary agents and cautioned about believing that an agent may be a trustworthy business just because it has a professional-looking website.
The OFT suggests that people buying tickets costing over £100 should consider using a credit card, making the card issuer jointly liable for the transaction should things go wrong. You paid with a Visa debit card. Although this falls outside the arrangements of joint liability for a transaction, Visa provides a guarantee on transactions for breach of contract, or where goods are not provided. This is available for 60 days after the transaction under the Visa rules, which is extended by Lloyds to 120 days. As you contacted Lloyds within that 120-day period it has – after several weeks of communications with us – agreed to credit you with the £233.
Q. I completed a BSc in 2005, qualifying as a speech therapist. I am now doing an MSc in audiology at Manchester as part of my career progression. The course structure means I am studying for one year, followed by a period of paid clinical training from September. I need financial help to complete the course. I wanted a loan while I am studying, with a holiday period until I have a salary. It seemed that NatWest's Professional Trainee Loan met my needs. It is available to qualifying professionals. But audiologist was not included as a qualifying profession, though physiotherapist and podiatrist were, with a similar course structure. A colleague on the same course as me obtained the same loan from her local NatWest branch. But my university branch told me I was not eligible for the loan. I feel frustrated. I have been a NatWest customer for over 20 years, but found the staff unhelpful. LM, Manchester.
A. NatWest's Professional Trainee Loan scheme is available to students on long-term courses that lead to specifically defined professional qualifications – these include doctor of medicine, vet, barrister and solicitor, but not audiologist. The bank is unable, for data protection reasons, to disclose why it has apparently approved a loan to a colleague of yours. The bank has now offered you a different loan product, which you are happy with. It has also agreed to review the criteria for the Professional Trainee Loan to consider whether audiologist is also a suitable professional qualification for this loan.
Q. My daughter is starting her own business, but this is proving slow. She has an account with HSBC, which knows what she is doing. Her account has gone overdrawn a couple of times and the bank has hit her with what I feel are absolutely exorbitant fines – one of £75 and the other of £125. She raised this with the bank, but the attitude is one of no negotiation. PW, Carlisle.
A. We can confirm that HSBC is not willing to negotiate. The bank says the charges were correctly applied and HSBC is "not tending to make any refunds on overdraft charges" until the legal challenge to overdraft charges has been fully resolved. We are unable to help. Your daughter's case is yet another warning of the pain caused by inadvertently going overdrawn, even if only for a short time.
Q. I obtained a Motorola phone through the Carphone Warehouse. When it went wrong, I took it back to the store with the warranty. I was told it would take 21 working days to fix. I have since returned six times to the store, without the phone being repaired. Eventually, I was told it was uneconomic to fix it. I am now having to use another phone, which I had to pay Carphone Warehouse £50 as a deposit, with only the most basic service. For seven months I have been unable to use the services, such as video calling, for which I paid Orange £175. EB, London.
A.The Carphone Warehouse has now agreed to pay you £100 in compensation.
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