Questions of cash: Securing a £100 refund on a replacement handbag was like going round and round the Mulberry bush


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The Independent Online

Q. My husband bought a bag for me on 5 January for my birthday from the Mulberry store in St Christopher's Place, London. It was not a sale item. At my request, he exchanged it on 20 January for a different colour. The replacement bag was £100 cheaper. The store told him he could not have a refund and instead issued a credit note. However, the store's website shows that its policy is that items returned in perfect condition within 28 days with proof of purchase will be refunded. I have tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to contact Mulberry to resolve this. The transaction was some time ago but I only recently found out that the store did not provide a refund. FW, by email.

A. Mulberry apologises for your difficulty in contacting the company. It says that emails to the company's customer service department, or phone calls, would normally be responded to quickly. The company's records indicated that the purchase was via a gift receipt. On that basis, the refund used the same transaction method. However, you have demonstrated that a gift voucher was not used for this purchase and that payment was by credit card. On this basis, Mulberry has now made a refund to that credit card account.

Double trouble to get policies to pay out

Q. I have been trying to redeem two life and pension policies for the past two months. One is a Friends Provident life plan I have paid into for 40 years and to which I am still contributing. When I tried to cash this I was told I must produce a letter from my bank stating it has no claim on the policy. The second policy is a Barclays Life Pension Plan which I have been paying into for 30 years and to which I still contribute. I have written twice to the Barclays Life office, as shown on the policy, but I have had no reply. My wife called into our local Barclays branch but they were unable to tell her whom I should contact. AP, Cheshire.

A. Barclays Life was bought by Swiss Re insurers in 2008. It now operates as part of the Reassure brand name. Reassure says you took out your policy in March 1981 and its records indicate that there was not any previous contact from you until September this year. It sent you an annual pension statement in 2002 but this was returned to them as showing that you had moved. Since then, it has held your records as not having a current address. It got a letter from you in September this year – presumably forwarded by Barclays.

This was before we contacted Swiss Re but its reply had not at that point been received by you. Its reply indicated that it required you to verify your signature and prove your identity in order for it to provide a lump-sum payment to you, which we understand has now been done. Friends Provident was aware that you had made a request to surrender the policy, but according to its records the policy had been legally assigned to NatWest – presumably as a guarantee of some kind.

However, neither Friends Provident nor NatWest is aware of why such a guarantee should have been in place! NatWest has written to Friends Provident to confirm that it has no claim on the policy and that Friends Provident is free to make the payment to you. We understand this has also now been done.

Launch of EE has hit our BlackBerrys

Q. The recent launch of the new EE network has resulted in my BlackBerry becoming almost totally inoperative both for telephone calls and e-mails. The same thing has happened to my daughter's BlackBerry. My local EE shop says that lots of people are having the same problem. They also told me astonishingly that it would take four months to sort out. I run a small business and my BlackBerry is a vital tool which I need for work every day and I am already losing business as a result of this. CR. London.

A. EE – otherwise known as Everything, Everywhere – is the name of the company which was created by the merger of the Orange and T-Mobile networks. But the company insists your problems are not related either to this merger, nor to the launch of its new, 4G mobile internet service. A spokeswoman explained: "Unfortunately, the customer experienced technical issues with her phone, which were rectified as soon as possible. This was not related to the launch of 4G, or the rebrand of our network to EE. We apologise to [the reader] for any inconvenience caused and have refunded £10 for the days she was without service." However, you then contacted us to say that you were still having serious service interruptions.

We contacted EE again. A spokesman said: "We are aware that a very small number of T-Mobile customers are experiencing problems with call quality in the SW6 area. This is a result of upgrade work in the area: part of a £1.5bn nationwide investment to provide customers with the best network performance. We apologise for any inconvenience and anticipate its being resolved soon."

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