Questions of Cash: We didn't have time for an eyeful of the Eiffel - or a refund
Saturday 30 June 2012
Q. Our group bought advance tickets for the Eiffel Tower, to stop-off en route to a skiing holiday in the Alps. We had a limited time period between trains, which is why we made an advance purchase. But when we arrived there was a demonstration, with the police and army trying to remove people. As a result, there was a huge backlog of people trying to visit the Eiffel Tower.
The staff there could give us no idea how long it would take before we could use our tickets. To make it worse, only one lift was working. At no point did they indicate that we would not obtain a refund unless we waited for over two hours – which would anyway not have been possible with hungry young children in our group. Now the Eiffel Tower refuses to provide a repayment on the grounds that refunds are only available when access is restricted for at least two hours. JS, by email.
A. We have had difficulty in contacting the administrators of the Eiffel Tower. Our initial emails were not delivered because of a website malfunction and we had significant difficulty in obtaining the correct phone number to pursue this matter. Eventually we obtained a working email address. Soon after, you received a more helpful response. The administrators maintain that a refund does not fall within the terms and conditions of the sale. However, because of the additional information we provided, it accepted that "due to the confusion, you were given information which may have led you to take the wrong decision and to cancel your visit". On this basis, "we exceptionally agree to refund you" and you have received €175.70 (£141) credited to your account. However, the Eiffel Tower administrators have failed to directly respond to our communications, despite reminders.
Voucher variance at Center Parcs spa
Q. I purchased vouchers online from Center Parcs for their spa in Penrith in Cumbria for my wife and daughters as a Christmas present at a total cost of £477. I have since found out that if I had purchased the vouchers direct from the spa the total cost would have been £377! Both the spa at Center Parcs in Penrith, and Center Parcs' customer services have admitted that there is not any difference between the spa days I purchased online and those which I could have purchased direct from the spa. I have exchanged a number of emails with customer services – the only justification they appear to offer for the huge difference in price is that the vouchers I purchased can be used at any time, subject, as they put it, to availability. So if the spa is already booked for when my wife wants to use it, she cannot book it anyway whether or not she has the vouchers! GH, by email.
A. Center Parcs insists that customers who buy the vouchers do have the benefit of extra flexibility in terms of how the vouchers can be redeemed. The vouchers can be used at any time and in any of the four Center Parcs villages – though, as you say, this is subject to availability. The higher cost is in recognition of that flexibility. To avoid problems with availability, Center Parcs suggests that customers with vouchers book in advance. A spokeswoman for Center Parcs said: "We are sorry to hear of [the reader's] disappointment… Center Parcs Guest Services team has offered to exchange the vouchers on this occasion which we hope [the reader] will find helpful." However, you tell us that you have not received any such offer from Center Parcs. We have therefore recontacted Center Parcs requesting that it contact you directly, making sure that it does carry through on its promise.
* In Questions of Cash on 16 June, we answered a reader's question regarding what he regarded as excessive charges for his father-in-law's residential care. We explained that it is common for some residents to be charged more than others and that, given the high cost of residential care, it is essential to negotiate properly for the best-possible care and charging package before agreeing a contract. We also said that while we would be happy to take the matter up with the care home, we were concerned that should we do so this could damage the relationship between the reader's father-in-law and his care home operators. Following publication of the question and answer, we have been contacted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the sector regulator with whom we discussed the situation before formulating our answer.
The commission's chair, Dame Jo Williams, has asked us to make clear that while it agrees with our comments about the need for proper negotiations taking place prior to agreeing the contract terms, she is concerned about residents being discouraged from raising legitimate grievances about their care packages. She said: "CQC is aware that on numerous occasions individuals using the health and care services are afraid to raise their concerns because of potential repercussions. This is unacceptable and I believe that we will only bring about real change and the behavioural shift required if individuals and their families raise their voices about matters of legitimate concern.
The appropriate handling of feedback and complaints is the mark of a service that is focused on those they provide for and a desire for improvement. People who are supported by their local authority should approach them with their worries. For private payers in the care sector many voluntary organisations provide advocacy services. Healthwatch will be established in April 2013 and this may go some way to filling the gap."
The commission is also keen to hear directly from residents and their representatives who have concerns. It can be contacted on 03000 616161 or via email at email@example.com. Dame Jo added: "Our local inspectors want information as part of their analysis of the performance of a service." We are happy to make this clear. Unfortunately this information was not provided to us when we consulted the commission prior to publication of the question and answer.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...
£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...
£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...
Day In a Page
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
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000