Questions Of Cash: 'I didn't pay enough interest to account small-print'

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The Independent Online

Q. A year and a half ago I responded to a promotional interest rate offer from Alliance & Leicester, investing £75,000 in its online saver account. After six months I received my first interest payment, which was only on £25,000. It emerged the maximum investment was £75,000. I am not normally careless, but I obviously did not read the small print. Alliance & Leicester refuses to pay the extra interest. MG, London.

A. As well as contacting us, you also referred your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman, who found in favour of Alliance & Leicester. As a result, Alliance & Leicester feels its approach has been vindicated. One of the terms of this account was that: "No interest will be paid on any amount invested, which is in excess of the maximum investment permitted in the account," which was £25,000. There is a strong onus on customers to act with care and you admit you were careless. Others may learn from your experience.

Q. On 13 October, my bank account was debited with ten charges of £2.49 by AOL UK Services. This appears to have been a charge for McAfee security, yet I do not have it on my computer. I switched provider from AOL to Virgin Media in 2008 so why have I been charged this money without notification. CW, St Albans

A. The charges were for an AOL Virus Scan Service that you had signed-up to and not cancelled. There was confusion because Carphone Warehouse bought part of AOL, but the charge came from the part that was not bought by CPW: attempts at resolving the problem with CPW were unsuccessful. AOL has now fully refunded the charge.

Q. I had to call out a BT Openreach engineer to repair the telephone system in my home. He spent 20 minutes replacing a corroded box in my lounge, yet I was charged £184 plus VAT by BT. This is £552 per hour plus VAT. BT told me this is the standard call-out charge regardless of the time spent at the property, but it appears extortionate to me. GJ, Aberystwyth.

A. BT has confirmed it carried out work because the box was damaged by damp. While BT says you were liable for a standard call-out charge, this is £125 and you were wrongly overcharged. BT is contacting you about a refund.

Q. Vodafone has billed me for cancellation charges on the early termination of my account. But I did not cancel it, so I do not owe them the money. I suspect Vodafone cancelled the account based on a communication sent before the start of the new contract. The matter is now with its debt collection agency, CapQuest, which has put the matter on hold. I have told Vodafone why I should not be liable for this cancellation charge, but have had no response. AG, Nottinghamshire.

A. Vodafone has declined to provide any explanation to us, but as a result of our intervention it has now responded directly to you. You tell us that Vodafone now accepts that the charge was wrongly imposed, has cleared the account and instructed the debt collectors to cease action. Vodafone has confirmed it regards the matter as now resolved.

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:

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