Questions Of Cash: The plane truth about Air France's delays

Q. Last year I travelled almost every week between London City Airport and Dublin on Air France. Flights were regularly delayed and on one occasion I worried about my safety because other passengers were so angry at the departure gate. I wrote four letters of complaint, which were ignored. In March last year my luggage was damaged, I claimed for compensation and Air France promised to replace it with a similar case. A year later I am still waiting for this. SG, London.

A. We can sympathise with your frustration – Air France has been slow in handling our complaint on your behalf. Initially, Air France issued an apology for your problems, saying that some delays are inevitable and outside its control. It added that its records showed that you had been sent a replacement bag last November. It was only after we persisted with your complaint that it found the bag had not been delivered. We are assured that its agents are now arranging delivery at a time of your convenience.

Q. In February I signed up with Orange for its Home Max package of broadband, landline and second phone line, at £12 a month for six months, then £24 a month. But then Orange told me it was unable to proceed with the deal as I had failed a credit check. Yet I have never defaulted on a payment, or even been in debt. I tried to get an explanation from Orange, who simply referred me to the credit reference agencies Experian and Equifax, saying I do not have a credit rating. JH, by email.

A. The absence of a credit rating can be a problem. Companies feel reassured if they are told by a credit reference agency that a potential customer has a track record of entering into contracts and fulfilling them properly. The agency will confirm that a person is on the electoral register and appears to be bona fide. James Jones of Experian explains: "To some lenders, an empty credit report is almost as unattractive as one showing a trail of bad debt. Most use credit scoring to predict what sort of customer you'll be, based on how you've repaid credit in the past. As a result, an empty credit report makes you a bit of an unknown quantity and certainly less attractive than someone whose report includes several accounts that were repaid on time and in full."

He adds that failure to be on an electoral register can be the difference between being given a credit account and being rejected. However, Jones says that you can expect companies to be more open about why they will not approving an account than Orange was in your case. In fact, the whole problem is what Orange calls "an internal customer service error", which meant that your application "was incorrectly processed". Exactly what this means is unclear, but the good news is that Orange has now approved your application and is providing three months' free broadband to apologise.

Q. Tiscali was my internet service provider (ISP) for a short time in 2004 on a pay-as-you-go contract. During this time I signed up for a "spam blocker" for a £9.99 fee, which I paid by credit card. I switched ISPs the following year, but Tiscali has carried on taking the £9.99 each year, even though I no longer get a service from it. I ended up having to cancel my credit card to stop the payments, but I cannot get Tiscali to return the overpayments. Instead, it is continuing to demand the annual fee, threatening to send debt collectors. TW, Worcester.

A. Tiscali has now confirmed that it has recorded that your service is cancelled and is refunding £30 to you. It is conducting an internal investigation to determine why it did not automatically cancel the payment demand. We hope it will also try to find out why it could not resolve the matter when you originally complained.

Q. In early January we moved into a one-bedroom flat in Nottingham. At the end of the month we received a bill from British Gas demanding in excess of £235 for gas that we had supposedly used in three weeks. After about 10 phone calls, we are still receiving threatening letters – apparently because our gas meter is not the correct type. The most recent letter informs us that our gas will be disconnected if we do not pay the balance, but £235 is clearly extortionate. JP, Nottingham

A. A spokesman for BG said: "When the customer moved into her flat, we were already in the process of a crossed meters investigation. Our records showed that the property was served by a metric meter, but this appeared to be incorrect. The details had been mixed up with another property on our records before the customer moved in. It transpired that it was actually served by an imperial four-dial meter. The crossed meter enquiry has come back confirming this to be the case, so we are now updating the records and will be sending out an accurate bill. We have assured the customer that the incorrect bills, which we issued for gas used since she moved in, have been cancelled. The issue arose due to incorrect meter details on our records, which have now been amended. We've apologised to the customer and have assured her that the incorrect bills have been cancelled."

Behind this technical explanation lies the truth that BG messed up, knew that it messed up, yet continued to harass you for a debt it knew was wrong. You tell us that the incident has left you very upset. Unfortunately, your experience is not unique among BG customers. BG will now issue a corrected bill, with £50 credit, recognising its failure to deal with the matter efficiently.

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;

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
Life and Style
food + drink
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Business Analyst / Project Manager - Financial Services

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: One of the mos...

    Lead Business Analyst - Banking - London - £585

    £525 - £585 per day: Orgtel: Lead Business Analyst - Investment Banking - Lond...

    Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Service Desk Engineer-(Support, ITIL, Software Vendor)

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Engineer-(Support, S...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home