Questions Of Cash: Visa delay has ruined our honeymoon to India

 

Q. My partner and I booked flights to India with STA Travel last September for our honeymoon in December. My husband's father is a British citizen born in Pakistan. British citizens who have a parent or grandparent born in India or Pakistan have to apply for visas in a different way to other people and my husband was not able to get a visa from India in time. The visa providers all state that visas are supplied within five to seven days and we allowed five weeks, but it turns out – and we were not warned of this – that for those who have a parent or grandparent born in India or Pakistan it can take up to a year.

I contacted STA and was told it would be happy to change the flights, but our airline, Etihad, would charge a cancellation fee of £275 per person. I asked them to request Etihad to waive this as we couldn't afford the fee and I was promised this would happen. Etihad repeatedly told me it would be willing to work towards a solution as it was our honeymoon. But STA said it was unable to contact the people at Etihad I had spoken to and that the airline refused to waive the fee or re-arrange the flights. At one point Etihad suggested having a conference call to resolve the issue, but STA said this was not possible.

Eventually we gave in and booked more expensive flights, two weeks before Christmas. This cost us £1,800, plus the £550 cancellation fees. However, through a friend I found out that the cancellation fees were not imposed by Etihad at all – which Etihad has since confirmed. This was despite STA telling me the cancellation fees were from Etihad and there was nothing STA could do about it.

I have complained to STA and ABTA, but both say there is nothing they can do as we have no proof of what was said to us on the phone. I understand STA charging a cancellation fee, but not when people have no choice other than to cancel and book much more expensive flights. This has ruined our honeymoon and cost us the additional £900 we had set aside for our accommodation. I had spent a year and a half planning the honeymoon. AO, by email.

A. Kate Howard, operations director of STA Travel, says: "Passport and visa regulations are extremely complex and subject to change at short notice. Requirements can vary vastly depending on a customer's personal circumstances. As a member of ABTA, STA Travel are governed by a strict code of conduct regarding advice given to customers at the point of sale." Ms Howard says that STA complied with the code of conduct by advising you to check the specific visa requirements for yourself and your husband and that this point is also included in the booking conditions emailed to you.

STA says that the cancellation fees represented a charge of £125 per ticket imposed by the airline, plus an agent administration fee of £150 per ticket. As a goodwill gesture, STA is providing you with a full refund of £550, representing the fees imposed both by itself and the airline. "It is necessary for us to state that this gesture is made in the interests of customer relations with [the reader] as a valued customer and that no admission of liability should be construed, or is implied from this gesture," said Ms Howard.

Q. I had a road traffic accident in January, in which I was not to blame. I obtained insurance from MCE when I bought the bike in November last year. Yet I was nearly arrested after the accident because when the police performed a PNC check, it seemed that I did not have any insurance. My policy had to be confirmed by a phone call by the police to MCE. When I bought the bike I had difficulty in collecting it because my name and postcode had been entered wrongly on the database and road tax could not be purchased.

Since the accident, I have had repeated problems because the company repairing my bike were demanding that I pay a £700 excess, even though my policy includes a £200 excess. It took two months for MCE to confirm this. I was promised a cheque from the third party's insurers at the beginning of March, but this has still not arrived. I am very upset by the tone and comments of the solicitor acting on behalf of MCE, who has insinuated that I am to blame for the accident. If the accident were my fault, why would I have gone to enormous lengths trying to obtain CCTV footage of the accident? My bike was hit from behind by a car, I believe because the driver was trying to swerve around me to the right. I expect my insurer to put my interests first. DC, Essex.

A. MCE Insurance accepts there was a problem with the document records, on which your surname was wrongly spelt. A replacement certificate of insurance has now been issued and is in the post to you. The problem with your claim is that while you believed the third party had accepted that you were innocent, the report the driver made to his or her insurer was not consistent with this.

MCE says that the solicitor who contacted you was trying to establish the truth and was merely asking questions as part of this process. The third party's statement of events has now been rejected by both the insurers and your version of events has been accepted. MCE Insurance's Colin Pedwell says: "Following investigation we would advise there appears to have been some confusion regarding the issues raised by the client, however... all issues raised have been resolved to the client's satisfaction and letters confirming this have been issued by both parties."

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

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

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

    DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

    £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

    Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

    Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

    £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone