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Spend & Save

Questions of Cash: I feel deceived over withdrawn option to reduce phone payments


Q. In August 2011, I took out a 24-month mobile phone contract with Three, at a cost of £28 a month. I will be travelling from January next year for five or six months. I knew this when I signed my contract and the salesman informed me that I would be able to downgrade my contract to a £15-a-month tariff for that period with no penalties, as I will not be using my phone at all whilst away. But when I phoned Three to discuss this, the call handler told me its policy of accepting contract downgrades expired in December 2011.

I recognise the option to downgrade was a gesture of goodwill and this gesture of goodwill is no longer available. But I feel deceived by Three. I would not have signed a 24-month contract if this option was not available — spending £28 a month for an unused phone for six months is a waste of money. I have phoned Three numerous times and it has promised calls back from a manager, but I have not heard anything. SW, Cambridge.

A. We contacted Three on your behalf. You tell us that you have since been informed by Three that it has confirmed that it will allow you to downgrade your contract to £15 a month from January. We asked Three to confirm that this information is correct, but it refuses to say anything on the matter beyond, as its spokeswoman says, that: "We have resolved the issue with the customer."

We're cut up over sawhorse

Q. We bought a Rocwood Sawhorse from MDM of Telford through Amazon. The equipment would not fit together and we returned it. MDM said there was no returns facility and that it would cost about £6 to post. We returned it via Parcelforce for £21.40. After many phone calls we received a working sawhorse, but also an email in which my husband, an engineer of over 30 years' experience, was called a liar. We were told the returns cost was too high and there was nothing wrong with the sawhorse. Amazon refused to deal with the matter when we complained. We spoke to Trading Standards, who said we were in the right but to pursue it we would have to go to the small claims court. Eventually we received just £6.57 towards the returns cost. Amazon refused to publish our review of the transaction, which was not rude and was truthful. DM, Cambridge.

A. Amazon has paid £15 to your payments card as a gesture of goodwill. A representative of MDM said: "When the sawhorse was returned we contacted our supplier who inspected it and found no manufacturing defaults or quality issue… At no point was [the reader's husband] called a liar. We were fair and explained that the manufacturer wouldn't sanction the [return] charges due to the sawhorse being 'fit for purpose'. We, out of goodwill, offered ourselves to refund what it would cost us to send, which was the £6.57. If [Amazon] were unhappy with our service, or the product we sell, they wouldn't release the [customer's payment] funds [to MDM]."

Olympic resale site 'too busy'

Q. We were allocated some tickets for the Olympics on 11 August. In the end we were unable to attend. On Saturday 4 August I attempted to put the tickets into the resale system online within the seven-day window for doing so. But when I tried to access my online account displaying the tickets I constantly got the message: "We are currently experiencing high demand and the page you have requested is temporarily unavailable." This continued beyond the Saturday into the Sunday, by when the automatic resale system had closed. These were tickets that other people would have liked to have bought. RC, West Sussex.

A. The Olympic ticket sales process, including returns, was handled by Ticketmaster. A spokesman says you left it too close to the event to attempt to resell, when the online system was "extremely busy". It declines to make a refund.

Car's prang on way to garage

Q. As a member of the RAC Breakdown Service, I requested a Home Start call on 25 May. A patrolman arrived promptly, diagnosing an immobiliser problem. A local garage arrived as agents of the RAC to collect the car and deliver it to my preferred repairer. I was phoned later to say that the recovery truck had "gone over an unusually large speed bump and the sump of my car had been smashed, consequently losing all the oil". The RAC's garage agency accepted they were liable and offered to repair the damage, free of charge. It did this and the problem with the car not starting was also somehow corrected. I told the RAC I want multiple years' free membership as compensation. The best offer is a renewal of my membership for the same cost as last year. This is unacceptable. DC, Gloucester.

A. A spokesman for the RAC says: "On very rare occasions vehicles can get damaged while being recovered to a garage. RAC's local recovery partner worked hard to fix the damage and returned the car to [the reader] within a few days. RAC's customer care team liaised with [the reader] regularly, offering him a discounted renewal of his membership for his inconvenience, which he chose not to accept." We presume that the RAC regards your request for "multiple years' free membership" as excessive in the circumstances. If so, we can see their point.