Questions of cash: NPower pays up for its broken promises


I have been away from home for a period and my direct debit payments to NPower have led to me overpaying £750 for electricity and £100 for gas. I phoned NPower repeatedly, but my promised refund has not arrived. I was told this would be sent after my meter was read. I came over specially from Amsterdam to allow someone in to read the meter, but no one came. I fear that if I stop my direct debit, my electricity will be cut off. DC, Horsham.

NPower accepts that your meter was not read as promised and that this held up your refund. It has reduced your electricity direct debit to £5 a month and your gas to £30, which has reduced your credit balance to £59.59. This will be refunded – but as a gesture of goodwill, recognising the inconvenience you have been caused, this is being rounded up to £150.

I am joint executor of my late uncle's estate, using a community and a savings account with HSBC. I use telephone banking to transfer funds between the accounts. On 1 April, I used the telephone banking to transfer £400 from the savings to the community account, to cover a cheque presented later that month. On 12 May, I received the community account statement showing that I had gone overdrawn, together with a bill for £80 in unauthorised overdraft fees – £8 per day overdrawn – plus interest at 25.08 per cent. My local branch cancelled an extra charge of £32, but said they could not reduce the £80 already billed. HSBC says it has no record of my original phone call. I don't understand why it couldn't have phoned me when the cheque was presented to warn me – it would then have earned a fee. AT, Sowerby Bridge.

You say you are confident you made the call to HSBC's telephone banking service, but cannot swear that you did so. HSBC has again checked its records, and can find no trace of any such call. It insists that the charges were correct. However, the bank values your custom and has therefore refunded the £80 in charges, plus interest.

I booked flights with Ryanair, but found them cheaper two days later and cheaper again after that. These were all under a promotion of "Italy from £10". On 25 June, the flights from Stansted airport to Alghero were £278.98. Now they are £268.96. How can flights become cheaper – in the same offer period – when we are regularly advised to book early to gain the lowest fare? NH, London.

A spokesman for Ryanair says: "Ryanair offers its customers the lowest average fares of any airline in Europe, and guaranteed no fuel surcharges. Special offers or low fare promotions are occasionally offered near to the date of flight departure. Customers can take the risk of waiting and booking later, but normally fares rise running up to the departure date."

My wife and I are divorced. I have invested money for our children in Nationwide Building Society accounts, and they also have accounts with the Nationwide at their mother's address. When the Nationwide paid bonuses for taking over the Portman, these were sent only to their mother's address. This has meant that full information on the accounts was sent to their mother's home, but I was keeping this information quiet from the children until they became older – the balances are in the thousands of pounds. SW, by email.

Nationwide's spokesman says the address of the children held by the society was that of their mother. It argues that there is no other way that it could have handled the administration and calculation of the bonuses.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk

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