Questions of Cash: Scratch that: the 792 'free' holiday

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Q. My family won a holiday in Mallorca through winning on a scratchcard in Skymag magazine. To claim it, we paid 156, as well as spending a long time on premium-rate phone calls. But instead of booking us to Mallorca on the date we chose, we were sent on a holiday in Turkey at another time and had to pay 34 in air passenger duty, 40 fuel levy, 15 per flight meal, 25 for transfers, 15 for luggage for each of us in a party of four. In addition, we paid a refundable deposit of 259. Instead of being a free holiday in Mallorca, we will spend 792 for a holiday in Turkey. Not such a bargain. In addition, we are still awaiting our prizes for other wins on the same scratchcards. CL, Bishop's Stortford

A. The scratchcards are operated by Purely Creative, but the travel holiday "prize" is run by a separate business, Whoopydoo. Whoopydoo is a trading division of Fireball Media Ltd, which also trades as AIM-Solutions. It took us some effort to contact a representative of this company, as Whoopydoo does not list a phone number contact and there are several, unrelated, businesses styled as "Fireball Media". We eventually tracked down Simon Kent, a director of Fireball Media, who said that it is made clear in the terms and conditions of the prize draw offer that the "free" holiday only applies to the person holding the scratchcard, not others who travel with them, that taxes and fuel levy are applied and that Majorca is not the a guaranteed destination. Mr Kent added that your first choice of date coincided with school half-term and was in high demand.

Q. My 86-year-old sister has had a bank account with the Bank of Scotland for more than 20 years. She now lives in residential care, is immobile and has difficulty hearing on the phone. I have twice written to her bank explaining that she cannot visit the branch, as has the owner of the residential home. When I visited her recently, she asked me to phone the bank with her so that she could try to speak to them. When I got through and explained that I was phoning on behalf of my sister, the bank refused to speak to me and sent my sister a letter saying they had suspended her account as someone had tried to access it. Now she cannot write cheques, or pay for her residential care. MH, Wakefield.

A. Bank of Scotland apologises for the difficulties caused to your sister, but says it is important to protect customer confidentiality. Your sister's account has now been unlocked and a representative of the bank has visited your sister in her care home. She has been given assistance in using the care home's computer and is apparently happy to do her banking online from there. The bank has also given her forms to enter into a power of attorney in case she has further difficulty in future.

Q. My husband signed a contract in January with Aspire Training Solutions for a training course in plumbing. We were persuaded to pay for the whole course, for 4,700, financed by Clydesdale Financial Services. This meant that the actual cost would be 6,600, after interest payments. In February, I was made redundant and, as I was the main earner, we asked for the course to be cancelled. Aspire said that we were out of the contract cancellation time. We can't afford for my husband to take the course, but we are now committed to paying 102.78 per month. JV, Southampton.

A. Clydesdale Financial Services is part of Barclaycard and it has offered to extend the repayment period. However, you have decided to stick with the original schedule to get the debt cleared quicker and to avoid any negative entry on your credit record. Aspire's phone number is now answered by a business called "Plumbing Skills", which referred us to another business called "The Skills Centre". This firm failed to respond to our repeated requests to discuss our request that it cancel your contract.

Q. In October last year, Orange offered to upgrade my package from the basic broadband package to the premium product at my existing monthly fee of 17.99, if I extended my contract for a year. I was to be given a wireless networking kit. By January, these had still not arrived. I was told it would have to "re-generate the order". But when they did this, they increased my monthly rental to 19.99, having previously promised not to do this. When I again contacted Orange they said I would have to pay the higher charge. After I wrote to complain, Orange gave me a two-month refund, equivalent to the lower monthly charge. Orange then agreed to reinstate the charge at 17.99, but when it confirmed this, it said I had agreed to renew my contract for another 18 months. I then said I wanted to cancel the contract. Orange says it will charge me an early cancellation fee of 235. RL, by email.

A. Orange has now agreed to accept the contract cancellation without charge.

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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