Questions of Cash: Orange insurance was a lemon for my son's broken phone


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The Independent Online

Q. When I took out a contract with Orange for my 16-year-old son's Sony Eriksson Experia phone, I added the insurance option against damage, loss and theft. After about 10 months of the contract, the phone was dropped and damaged beyond use. I tried repeatedly to phone Orange about this, but every time the company's automated response said there was a queue of between 45 minutes and one hour.

I unsuccessfully tried six or eight times to get through to report it. I then went into the local Orange store to report the problem. I was told that the insurance claim was not valid as I had not contacted them within 48 hours of the damage to the phone. I have had to pay £170 plus VAT to replace the phone. This seems incredibly unfair as I have paid the insurance for the phone to no effect. I work long hours and travel a long way to work and it seems entirely unreasonable to report the damage within the 48 hours, especially as the phone line has such an excessive wait. AW, Reading.

A. It is essential in such circumstances to check a policy's terms and conditions. You admit that you failed to comply with these and did not report the damage within the 48 hours, nor was your first attempt at reporting the matter to Orange within the 48-hour deadline. Despite this we made an attempt – we thought optimistically – to recover your costs. We initially raised the matter with Orange, which advised us that the policy is underwritten by Allianz and that you did not meet the claims criteria because of the delay in reporting the damage. We then tried our luck with Allianz. It took a few weeks, but Allianz has acceded and paid up on a goodwill basis. Thanks to Allianz, your Orange bill has been credited with a total of £173.62.

Q. You say [Questions of Cash, 15 September] that you receive far fewer complaints about TalkTalk than you used to. Two years ago you helped me with TalkTalk and you summarised the saga with them in the paper. TalkTalk offered me £50 in compensation. They promised this to you and they promised it to me in writing. But when I claimed the £50, they ignored me. They have still not paid two years later! BD, by email.

A. TalkTalk agreed to pay you £50 as a goodwill gesture and you accepted. We thought no more about it and assumed you had received the money – this is the first we knew that the money did not arrive. We raised the matter again with TalkTalk and in less than a week you had the £50 in your bank account. You suggest this column is "a miracle worker". No – just persistent. But we have to be told if a promised payment does not arrive.

Q. A few weeks ago I looked through my old savings certificates and found one for a Bradford & Bingley Fixed Term Loyalty Bond – Issue 2, which was issued in December 2003 for nearly £11,000. As Bradford & Bingley was taken over by Santander, I went to my Santander branch in Hull. Staff there tried to find out what had happened, but could not trace the bond there and then. However, they promised to refer the matter to the right department and get back to me. I have called a couple of times to see if there was any progress, but nothing. What can I do? DP, Hull.

A. We have bad news. Santander has traced the bond and its records show that it was closed and you were fully repaid on 19 January 2006. Banks and building societies do not always need to receive and cancel the original bond certificates to close the account, providing the bond holder can prove their identity.

Q. My partner and I were sold a mortgage a few years ago by the former Dunfermline Building Society with a high loan to value. It was only on the day of completion that I was told, by phone, that there was an additional charge, specifically for the high loan to value. I felt that I had to accept the charge to avoid the transaction falling through. When I pointed out at the time that we had not been warned, Dunfermline accepted this and offered to add the charge to the mortgage and not apply interest to this part of the loan. I agreed to this, but in retrospect I think I was wrong in doing so. I was not told that I could have challenged this by taking it to the Financial Ombudsman.

When I heard about the PPI mis-selling cases it occurred to me that there was a similarity between those cases and what I feel was a mis-selling of the high loan to value charge associated with the mortgage. If I had known in advance of the additional high loan to value charge, then I might have been able to raise some additional money through my family to avoid the charge. I've raised this with Nationwide – which now owns Dunfermline – but it has rejected my request for compensation. JH, Scotland.

A. Nationwide is not willing to concede on this. It regards the matter as having been settled at the time by Dunfermline agreeing not to impose interest on this charge, which has now been fully cleared by you. It adds that it is now 14 years since the mortgage was arranged – and this is a very long time to wait to make a complaint. It also argues that you cannot prove that you could have raised extra capital from your family to avoid having the charge imposed.

Nationwide does accept that it failed to respond to your written complaint to it in a fast and efficient manner. It has previously offered you £100 as an apology for this – an offer that you have not as yet accepted, but which remains open to you. We understand that you will now lodge a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman, though it may regard your complaint as time barred.

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