Questions Of Cash: Should I sell my endowment policy?

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The Independent Online

Q. I recently retired and paid off my mortgage. I am considering cashing my Standard Life endowment policy as the proceeds will be of more use now than in 10 years. Can I expect to get a better price from a specialist firm buying up endowment policies?
NF, by e-mail

A. David Arnold, director of traded endowment intermediary AAP, says: "There has been a huge surge in business with demand for endowments from mainland Europe, so prices are getting higher for people selling policies." He adds that 12 to 18 months ago, sellers could expect to obtain 5 to 10 per cent above surrender value if they sold a Standard Life endowment, but now the figure is 15 to 20 per cent. This is subject to some conditions, particularly that the policy was taken out before 1996, with no demand for more recent policies. But it is unwise to sell any Standard Life policy at present, as you will lose your windfall from the company's impending demutualisation.

Q. I am at my wits' end trying to get a refund on a McAfee subscription for firewall and virus protection that was automatically renewed despite my not wanting it, trying to cancel it, and the computer having been given away. I just can't get through to anyone to tell them I want my £39.98 back.
MW, by e-mail

A. McAfee automatically renews virus protection software annually after it has been initially installed, using the credit-card details supplied for the original transaction. Although its notification advises the customer that it has divisions in the US, Ireland and Japan, it is not obvious how to cancel the charge. The best thing is to contact the credit-card issuer, explain that this is not an approved transaction and ask for a "chargeback" - debiting the company for the value of the transaction. We spoke to Egg, your card issuer, and it has agreed to credit your account with the £39.98.

Q. In July, I bought a magazine subscription from www.countrybookshop.co.uk. It has taken my money, but I haven't had the magazine and they have ignored my e-mails. I paid with an Australian credit card, issued by BankWest.
ND, by e-mail

A. BankWest is a subsidiary of Halifax Bank of Scotland. At our request, HBOS has issued a chargeback against Country Bookshop and will credit your account with the subscription fee.

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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