Questions of Cash: United Airlines' refund offer hasn't got off the ground

 

Q. I bought return tickets for my two grandchildren, who live in Wyoming, to fly with United Airlines to Manchester from Washington and return to Denver via Washington. I paid extra for the children to be accompanied, especially as the return trip involved changing terminal.

The flight to Manchester was satisfactory, except that the lady meeting me off the plane forgot to give me their passports! The return journey started well as they were met and escorted onto the plane. Things went wrong when they arrived in Washington. The person meeting them had a very poor command of English and did not know what to do.

Because of this incompetence, the children were subjected to unnecessary immigration procedures and my granddaughter's bag went on the wrong plane and was delayed for two hours. I was promised by United Airlines that it would refund the accompanied travel fee for the return flight, but I have not received this despite reminders. JM, Denbighshire.

A. United Airlines apologises for what it describes as "a processing error". It has refunded the promised €99 (£85.51), which is being credited to the payment card used to make the booking.

Q. In November 2012 I transferred my gas and electricity supply from Npower to First Utility. But First Utility was unwilling to collect my monthly direct debit payments on the day that suited my monthly budgeting – the first of each month. All my phone calls to First Utility went unanswered. I decided to return to Npower for a slightly better deal than I had before.

In the middle of December, I authorised Npower to take back supply responsibilities. But although it transferred back my electricity supply at the beginning of January, no one can give me a firm date for the transfer of my gas supply. Consequently, First Utility collected £108 for the combined gas and electricity supply at the end of January and Npower collected £55 for electricity. As I cannot get the companies to agree an end to this process, it looks as if I will be charged substantially more for the time being than I paid previously. JC, Ayrshire.

A. Both Npower and First Utility apologise for mishandling this. Npower apologises for what it describes as "a system error, which stopped the account number being set up" for the invoicing of the gas supply. A spokesman adds: "We've contacted our joiners team to have this completed and we will be contacting the customer to let him know. We have suggested in the mean time that the customer cancels their direct debit to First Utility as they no longer supply [the reader]."

Dave D'Arcy, director of customer operations at First Utility, adds: "On this occasion a processing error occurred. We are pleased to confirm that both his electricity and gas services have now been transferred over to another provider. Unfortunately our billing system and account transfer system are run separately, so although his service had transferred the billing system hadn't yet issued a final invoice which led to the regular payment being taken in January. A final bill will be produced this month and the invoice will be deducted from the credit that [the reader] has already accumulated. No further monies will be debited from his account. If there is credit remaining on the account after the final invoice has been received then we will be happy to provide [the reader] with a rebate within 15 working days."

Q. In May 2011, I purchased a Samsung twin-fan oven from Currys. Since then the oven has broken down four times. The fourth breakdown occurred on 26 November and it took the repair engineers two weeks to respond to the call. When the engineers eventually called on 11 December they declared the oven was beyond economic repair. I wrote to Dixons Retail – which owns Currys – on 29 December and have contacted Samsung almost daily.

When Currys responded to my letter it asked me to phone them, which I did – but no one answered. So I wrote again requesting they phone me, but no one has. Samsung keeps telling me that it will make a proposal to me once it has received the engineers' report, which it has apparently not received. It is now two months since my oven broke down and still no offer to resolve the problem has been made. PM, London.

A. We have been in regular discussion with both Dixons Retail and Samsung for three weeks to obtain a solution. There have been several difficulties involved in obtaining a satisfactory resolution. One complication was the need to have agreement involving yourself, Dixons Retail and Samsung. Eventually this was achieved. A spokesman for Dixons Retail/Currys PC World says: "We were sorry to hear about [the reader's] issue with his cooker and for the delays in dealing with its repairs. As a goodwill gesture, we have offered a full refund of the cooker without substantiation of its latest fault, and have covered the installation costs of [the reader's] new cooker."

Prior to Dixons Retail obtaining a solution by agreement with Samsung, an offer had also been made by Samsung. This was less generous than the offer finally made by Dixons Retail and involved a reduction for depreciation from the original purchase price. That would have led to you receiving a refund of £175, compared to the purchase price of £249.99, plus VAT. The suggested settlement was considerably less than the purchase price of a comparable new model from Currys.

Understandably, you have already replaced the oven, which Samsung says was one of the reasons for the delay in reaching a satisfactory solution. "Ordinarily, if a customer decides to go ahead and purchase a replacement unit prior to reaching agreement with ourselves we are unable to assist further," Samsung said in correspondence to you. Without being able to assess the oven in situ, Samsung had difficulty in diagnosing the faults. We are pleased a sensible solution has now been achieved.

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: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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