Questions Of Cash: Phone company is so difficult to deal with

Q. My phone line was disconnected in July 2005 when I moved home - and Ntl phoned to confirm cancellation. Six months later my old landlord told me I was being pursued by Ntl for supposedly unpaid bills. I spoke to Ntl, with difficulty, and was told it would cancel the invoices.

Then in April last year, my landlord contacted me again to say bills were still coming and that a debt collector had been appointed. I ended up paying £140 which the debt collector asked for, just to put an end to this. I spoke to Ntl which denied the line had ever been terminated and has carried on sending me bills. XP, Harrow.

A. A spokesman for Ntl says "We have no notes to show the reader asked for the account to be terminated in July [2005] as he claims - but we have got a request marked in December. This would normally mean the money was indeed owed to us and he actually paid it to the debt collection agency. However, as there's ultimately no way of knowing exactly what has been said, we agreed in the past we are going to accept the reader's version of events and arrange a cheque to refund the payments he made."

Q. Ntl charged me £2 a month for a 'non-direct debit handling charge', which increased last June to £4. As I pay online, I successfully argued that this charge should be dropped as my method of payment is as cheap as direct debit. Ntl cancelled the charge by crediting my account with £2 a month. But when the charge went up to £4, the credit remained at £2. When I complained, the monthly £2 credit was removed as well. Dealing with Ntl is like nailing jelly to a wall. I know the money is small, but can you get this sorted out, because I can't? MS, by email.

A. It took us a few months of nagging to get this resolved. Ntl has now credited your account with the full disputed sum, and given you a further discount on your bill.

Q. I have moved house several times in recent years. Each time my mortgage broker has insisted I take out a new life insurance policy. I now have four policies and I'm not sure his advice was good, or which policy, or policies, to keep. I have policies with Norwich Union for £31.50 a month, Standard Life for £11.36 a month, Lloyds TSB at £11 a month and Scottish Widows at £10 a month. The balance on my mortgage is £55,600 and the property value is over £200,000. NB, Sussex.

A. Whether you are appropriately insured depends mostly on whether you have dependents and whether they are otherwise adequately protected. But, on the face of it, you look as if you are paying for more life assurance cover than you need. We offered to challenge your mortgage broker about the quality of advice provided and the commissions received, but you have declined to name the broker as he is "a friend".

We suggest you ask a reputable financial adviser to review your policies - and also take the opportunity to review your "friendships".

Q. After a lengthy complaints process that went to the Financial Ombudsman, we agreed a settlement with Barclays Bank about its sale of an endowment policy. We had a letter in July 2006 offering to pay £3,208.65, to be settled within four weeks. I wrote in September, and again in November, chasing the payment, but we still haven't received it. PB, Leamington Spa.

A. Barclays says its original payment went to the bank account named in the offer acceptance form. This had been closed when the credit was processed so the payment was returned to the bank. You have now been paid in full - and Barclays has sent you an extra £200 to compensate for the delays.

Q. Please advise what would be a good accessible ISA to use to save towards a deposit for a house.

If I open an account with £3,000 will I be liable for tax? If I save £300 per month from then, will I be subject to tax and is the tax year April to March? JC, by email.

A. Individual savings accounts are tax-free savings vehicles. You can save up to £7,000 in an ISA in any tax year - which runs from 6 April to the following 5 April. However, you can only invest up to £3,000 in a tax year in a cash ISA. You can invest a further £4,000 in a tax year in stocks and shares in an ISA.

To save for a home, you should use a cash ISA and avoid stocks and shares investments which require longer time horizons, suggests Philippa Gee, investments director at independent financial advisers Torquil Clark. She says: "You could invest £3,000 now and then start another account on 6 April with a monthly investment of up to £250."

Gee suggests putting the lump sum into National Savings & Investments, whose Direct ISA Account pays 5.8 per cent, or the Portman Building Society which has a 15-day notice account at 6.05 per cent. But best buys are subject to change, and you need to keep a close eye on rates.

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;

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

REX/Eye Candy
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

    C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

    DevOps Engineer - Linux, Shell, Bash, Solaris, UNIX, Salt-Stack

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: A fast growing Financial Services organisation b...

    Trade Desk FIX Analyst - (FIX, SQL, Equities, Support)

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: An award-win...

    Day In a Page

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?