Questions of cash: 'We were stranded. Why won't Flybe refund our costs?'

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The Independent Online

Q. Last August, we went on holiday to Sark, flying to Guernsey with Flybe. Severe weather conditions caused our ferry from Sark to Guernsey to be cancelled, making us miss our return flight to Manchester. We were insured through Flybe, and we told the airline in the morning that our family of five could not fly, and that we were stranded on Sark without accommodation. Flybe's adviser was most helpful and reassured us not to worry, that our insurance would cover us since a Force 9 storm was not our fault and that, for a small administration fee, he could transfer us on to another direct flight later that evening or on the following day.

Unfortunately, there were no direct flights for our size of party for four days. An indirect journey was suggested, taking us home via Southampton the following day. We got off the island the next day, paying £200 to stay in a hotel overnight. We had to book flights for the family, costing £734.84, with an assurance that this could be reclaimed, since Flybe could not offer us a direct flight transfer. The insurance policy we took out through Flybe with AIG stated that it would meet "reasonable extra costs of travel and accommodation... if you cannot reach the original departure point of your journey because public-transport services fail". But our claim was rejected by the assessor. We are very unhappy. FR, Manchester.

A. We have been trying persistently since November to resolve this, with only partial success. Your claim was reviewed by a claims assessor, who agreed that you should be offered £90 for each of the four older family members – not your youngest child, an infant – to compensate for the travel delay. We were told that the clause that you quote regarding a delay with public transport does not apply to journeys within the UK. We then explained that the Channel Islands are not part of the UK, but, we are advised by Flybe, the policy small print refers to the Channel Islands being treated as part of the UK. You are angry about this and we can understand why. You are unable to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service about Flybe since insurance sold as part of holidays only fell within its scope from January this year. But you can lodge a complaint with it against AIG's disallowance of your claim, and we suggest you do this. Your experience reinforces our view that standalone holiday insurance is usually better value than policies sold by airlines.

Q. I moved home in November, ordering a fixed line and broadband from BT. The order was accepted, with the broadband to be connected a week after the fixed line was switched on. BT staff repeatedly phoned to discuss the broadband order. BT told me that the broadband was activated. But I was unable to connect my computers.

Then a market researcher phoned on behalf of BT asking me how to comment on its handling of my broadband order. I said I was still unable to get it working. Two days later, BT technical support phoned to say they had checked my line and the broadband was active. It seemed the problems had to be with my computers and the phone wiring within the house, so I bought a dongle to get one PC operating on mobile broadband and bought a new PC. But while I could now get mobile broadband, even the new PC couldn't get the fixed-line broadband. I again spoke to BT, which now said no broadband had been connected or ordered. I have subscribed for mobile broadband at £176 for a year and bought an extra PC for £321, when the problem was actually with BT. PG, Derry.

A. BT has carried out a full internal investigation, and while it does not dispute your version of events, it can find no trace of your order. BT apologises and has credited your account with a quarter's broadband subscription of £40.82. It says it is not willing to increase its compensation. Given that BT's error has caused you to spend an extra £497, this is not generous. We suggest that you register a complaint with the telephone ombudsman, Otelo (the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman), to which BT is signed up.

Q. I booked two air tickets with KLM to Jakarta, costing £1,400. The schedule showed one stop at Amsterdam. But later KLM changed the schedule for another stop at Kuala Lumpur. This is a breach of KLM's terms and conditions, which specify that customers must be told of changes to the schedule. If I had been told there were two stops I would have booked with another airline that also had two stops and was cheaper. ZH, Sutton Coldfield.

A. KLM insist that you misread the schedule when booking and that if you had carefully read the online flight schedule and the airline's terms and conditions you would have realised there was a stopover. It points out that there was no change in schedule and therefore there was nothing to advise you about. You dispute this and forwarded to us the email receipt, which appeared to back up your case. However, KLM has sent us a "screen grab" of a booking for a Jakarta flight, which shows both the total journey time and that there is an "intermediate stop" on the journey, without specifying where this is. Having viewed this we can see why it would not be obvious to you that there was a stop at Kuala Lumpur. While KLM's online booking forms are not easy to understand, its argument against your claim appears to be technically correct.

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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