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

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?