Questions Of Cash: 'Is car-hire company giving me the runaround?'


Q. I booked for car hire through CarTrawler for a six-day car hire in Corsica, for collection at Ajaccio airport and leaving it at Porto Vecchio. My payment included a one-way fee of €90. On arrival I was told I couldn't return it to Porto Vecchio. Instead I had to return it to Figaro airport. I had to pay a €43.50 taxi fare after dropping the car at Figaro. I asked for a refund, but this was refused. I was told that unless I paid in full I would lose my deposit and car. I was told I could make a refund claim when I got home. I've done this, but all I received was a cheque for €40. I had calculated that I was due a refund of €133.50 [£117]. RK, London.

A. Initially we became convinced that CarTrawler had ceased trading: we had no reply to an email we sent to them, or to our repeated phone calls to the number quoted on its website. But further investigations revealed a link between CarTrawler and Argus – both companies operate as brokers to assist customers to book with local car hire operators around the world. A phone call to Argus went through to CarTrawler and from then things slowly got better. CarTrawler contacted the local car-hire company that you used, Alamo, which provided a justification for the event and charges of which you complained. But you rejected the explanation as inaccurate, which led to a further investigation by both CarTrawler and Alamo, part of the Europcar group. Europcar explains that the €40 you received was sent as a refund for your taxi fare from Figaro. Its billing system suggested that you were not entitled to any further refund, but this was because of an unrelated human error – you were charged for an additional driver, though there was none, and for an additional insurance premium, which you did not agree to. As a result of this review, Europcar/Alamo has refunded an additional £50 to your credit card. CarTrawler has refunded a further £36 to your credit-card account. Taking into account these various refunds, your additional costs and overcharges have now been repaid.

Q. I have been a Barclays customer for over 30 years and a customer of its Premier Life service for many years. In the past this has been very useful, including in getting mortgages. Our personal bankers have spent time discussing with us our finances and savings. If the bank noted a sudden transfer of money into the account, because of a company pay bonus, we used to be contacted and advised what best to do with the money. Someone knew us and helped us. But when I moved to Wales, the service suddenly changed. Our local branch told us we would not need to use the Premier service as we would get the same service from the branch. We decided to stay with Premier Life, but our subscription fee soon increased. Since then I have found the associated travel insurance and access to airport lounges to be less useful, but what I really miss is that no one bothers to contact us any more. HC, Powys.

A. Barclays believes it has done all it can to respond to your complaint: it has phoned several times, attempting to speak to you, and has arranged by email to meet you this month. But you still believe that the quality of support you are receiving is less than you are used to; that it is not phoning at times when you are likely to be in; and that the service you now receive does not justify the cost of the Premier Life subscription – the standard fee for which is £25 a month. Barclays has sent you two bottles of wine as a gesture to show that you are an important customer. Your response is that you are more interested in the service being improved and do not accept that this has yet happened.

Q. My daughter has just found out that for the past six months in her new employment with the NHS she has been overpaid by £1,080 and that her starting salary of £15,000 should have been £13,000. She took the job only because the salary was more than she was earning in her last job. Now they want back the overpayment and are reducing her salary with immediate effect. Can her employer really do this? LM, by email.

A. Whether your daughter's employer is entitled to act in this way depends on what is stated in the contract of employment and the offer of employment. Your daughter has now checked her contract of employment and accepts the employer is acting in accordance with this. She is now seeking a new job.

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.co.uk.

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