Questions Of Cash: Thomas Cook vouchers 'were mis-sold'
Saturday 10 March 2012
Q. We gave my son £230 in Thomas Cook vouchers last autumn, which we bought for his birthday. Just after Christmas, he tried to purchase online two nights in London, but the vouchers were not accepted. This is despite the reverse of the vouchers clearly stating that they can be redeemed online.
My son telephoned Thomas Cook and was told he had to take them to one of their branches as the vouchers could not be used online. He took them to the company's Winchester branch, but the offers available online were not available in the shop. Later, he went back to try to purchase Eurostar tickets with the vouchers, but was told that he could not purchase these tickets without a holiday as well. We feel that the vouchers were mis-sold to us. SM, Dorset.
A. Your son appears to have been given wrong information when he phoned Thomas Cook. The vouchers can be used for online bookings – though even the company admits the process for using them is not straightforward. Detailed information on how to redeem the vouchers online is published on the Thomas Cook website. A company spokeswoman said: "We are in contact with [the reader's son] and are helping him to make his booking using his Thomas Cook travel vouchers." She added that Eurostar does not permit any retailers to sell its tickets: this restriction is not imposed by Thomas Cook.
Q. In the summer of 2006, my sister and I asked Barclays' financial advisers to find the best investment for the money from the sale of our parents' house to pay for their residential care. By then they were both in care homes. The proceeds of the house sale came to £387,000, to be divided equally between them as tenants-in-common. My father needed greater, and therefore more expensive, care. My mother's care home fees were £37,000 a year and our father's approximately £65,000 a year. The two Barclays advisers spent some hours with us at my sister's house and were fully informed of all the circumstances and our requirements.
We needed to make the money go as far as possible, but to have access for the monthly fees for both parents. The advice was to put £80,000 of our mother's funds into bonds, one with Prudential, the other with Axa. The rest was supposed to cover her fees until the bonds matured. In fact, this left us short of easily accessible cash and we had to withdraw a total of £32,500 from the two bonds, thereby incurring penalties – exactly what we had wanted to avoid. For our father, who was already 98 at the time of the advice, the advisors had no suggestions, so we put all his half of the money into an instant-access account at Birmingham Midshires. I realise now that they could, at the very least, have suggested putting a portion of it into a 12 or 18-month higher-rate deposit.
My father died on 1 January 2010, aged 101, by which time we had got down to £22,000 and social services had to step in to help with his fees. My mother died on 1 January 2011. It was only then I felt able to make a formal complaint to Barclays, which I did in August. I received a reply in October, in which Barclays upheld my complaint and agreed that the bonds had been inappropriate. But Barclays also claimed that despite the penalties, we were still better off and had made a gain. They offered compensation of £239, despite us paying penalties of £691. Surely a better recompense is due? Barclays also says it has no record of any advice being given regarding my father's funds. JS, London.
A. The advice was provided by Barclays Wealth, which has provided us with a comprehensive explanation of how it calculated the compensation it believes is due. The investigation concluded that the advice to invest in the Prudential and Axa bonds "was not appropriate". "We did not consider that an investment of £80,000 into products with a minimum recommended term of five years was appropriate," concluded the investigation. They also accept that the administrative arrangements caused by the foreseeable need to cash the bonds in early were likely to cause distress.
However, despite what is acknowledged to be the inappropriateness of the advice, it did yield a financial gain if the alternative is assumed to have been to place the funds in a short-term deposit account earning interest rate at the then Bank of England base rate. Some £1,907.22 was gained by putting the money in the Prudential bond, rather than on short-term deposits. The situation was different regarding the Axa bond, where the early withdrawal led to a loss compared to putting the money on deposit. That loss was £239.51, which is the amount of compensation Barclays Wealth believes it owes you, plus 8 per cent interest that could have subsequently been accumulated of £4.36. Barclays Wealth says that while you and your sister understood the risks attached to the investments, you did not realise that you would have to pay penalties for early access to the funds.
Given that no advice was actually given regarding your father's finances, Barclays Wealth does "not feel it appropriate to pay compensation" for any loss caused by putting the money in a lower-interest account. A spokesman for Barclays Wealth says: "We are sorry for the poor experience that [the reader] has had in relation to the sale of the two bonds to her mother and subsequent interaction with the bank. We have upheld the complaint in full, and offered [the reader] redress that puts her in a better position than she would have been in had the original advice not been given and the monies remained on deposit, making our calculation at least in line with what the Financial Ombudsman Service awards when it is established that the complainant should not have taken any risk."
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcashindependent.co.uk.
Bargain Hunter: Affordable art - suddenly being a collector is just a walk in the park
Phoenix Life: Chance of a refund for overcharged policyholders has risen
Money Insider: Peer-to-peer lenders come into their own as marketplace lending evolves
Has your Premium Bond won the £1million jackpot?
There are 'dark corners' of the investment and pensions industry, says Pension Minister
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...
£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads