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; cash@independent.co.uk.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

    SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

    £22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed