Questions Of Cash: The broker's closed, so who do I chase?

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The Independent Online

Q. I believe I was mis-sold an endowment mortgage by County Brokers in Kenilworth in 1994. But this firm seems not to be trading now. The endowment was issued by Royal Life, now Phoenix, which says it provided no advice on the sale and therefore has no liability for any mis-selling. What I can do?

RS, by e-mail.

A. Although County Brokers is no longer trading, we were able to find County Independant (sic) Advisors in Leamington Spa, listed by the Financial Services Authority. Through its phone number we spoke to Anne McCracken, a former principal of County Brokers, who says that County Independant is also no longer trading.

She explains that prior to any sale, the advice provided by County Brokers was checked by the IFA Network, which became responsible for clients being given correct advice. Subsequently, IFA Network was taken over by Sesame, which took over responsibility for any alleged mis-selling by IFA Network. We spoke to Sesame, which has agreed to consider your claim for mis-selling.

Q. I have had a three-star maintenance contract with British Gas for many years, paid annually in advance. In August 2005, I paid the annual fee of £259 for annual service and emergency cover. Just before Christmas, the boiler ceased working. I received an appalling response, leaving me without heating over Christmas, and I cancelled the contract in January. Later in January, British Gas promised a refund, but I am still waiting.

RM, London.

A. British Gas accepts it provided a "poor level of service" and has sent you the £259 plus an apology.

Q. I have an annual service contract with British Gas, including an annual boiler service. There was no service in 2005 and after several reminders it was done in March this year. I have written several times to complain, but all I ever receive are promises that my complaints will be handled within 21 days.

HW, London.

A. British Gas says your contract period runs from September to September, and each service has been carried out within the specified period. While it is true that British Gas has been carrying out each service rather more than 12 months after the previous one, it appears to be operating within the obligations of its contract.

Q. I was sold a 12-month telephone contract on the 3 network by Shop for Mobiles last August, with the promise that the first six months were at half price. Instead of receiving invoices for the agreed £15 a month, I am being charged £30 monthly. I spoke to Shop for Mobiles, which told me to fill in the claim form provided at the point of sale to claim the 50 per cent rebate - but no such claim form was given to me. It has repeatedly promised to send me the claim form, but I have not received it. What can I do?

LR, by e-mail.

A. Shop for Mobiles is the trading name of S1 One Ltd, based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Internet blogs show that other customers are unhappy with this firm. All the phone numbers we located for the company are answered with the message that its lines do not take incoming calls. Its website is not functioning. According to another tenant in its building, some employees of the company still work there.

We have asked Derbyshire Trading Standards officers to investigate the company. We also spoke to the 3 network, which says it has no responsibility for the behaviour of retailers selling 3 contracts.

You could sue S1 One Ltd, but your prospects for obtaining the refund in these circumstances look slim. The best advice we can give is that next time you take out a mobile phone contract, be extremely careful who you do business with.

Q. Abbey has demanded a £225 fee to sign off my mortgage on repayment of the balance. I have no recollection of this being part of the terms of the mortgage.

TO, by e-mail.

A. Abbey has agreed as a gesture of goodwill to waive the repayment charge in full.

Q. I have found it impossible to obtain a statement of account from the Kensington Mortgage Company. KMC wants to charge me £20 for each copy statement - a substantial sum for the loan duration. But I need the full statement to reach a final settlement for my divorce.

MC, Cumbria.

A. KMC is not prepared to waive its fee - but the £20 charge covers a single statement for the entire duration of the loan.

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