Questions of Cash: We were told to put our cash in a TEP. Now we can't get it

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The Independent Online

Q My partner and I were advised by our financial adviser to put £43,000 into a TEP, or traded endowment policy. We wanted somewhere safe and accessible for our money until we purchased a property abroad.

Q My partner and I were advised by our financial adviser to put £43,000 into a TEP, or traded endowment policy. We wanted somewhere safe and accessible for our money until we purchased a property abroad.

We now find out we will incur huge penalties if we remove our funds early. I believe we were wrongly advised. Can we get our money back? NH, by e-mail

A You are correct that buying into a TEP looks like a very bad decision with hindsight. It was not a "safe and accessible" investment. With the falls in the stock market leading to a collapse in bonuses on with-profits endowments, the bottom has fallen out of the TEP market.

Your IFA's advice should have been very strongly hedged with warnings about the high risk attached to buying a TEP and the possible difficulty in recovering your money. If it was not, you should pursue a compensation claim from the IFA. If a suitable offer is not made you should then lodge a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (0845 080 1800), which is likely to be sympathetic.

Q Further to your answer on the deposit protection scheme (Questions of Cash, 8 March), does the £31,700 protection from the scheme apply per account, or per individual? Do I get twice the protection if I open two accounts? CR, by e-mail.

A The compensation limit (where an institution is unable to repay its deposits) applies per depositor, not account. For details, visit the Financial Services Compensation Scheme at www.fscs.org.uk.

Q I am in dispute with a hire-car company based in Edinburgh, Capital Car and Van Hire, over its failure to return a £100 deposit that was paid by credit card. It keeps promising to send me a cheque that never arrives. I understand if the sum were higher than £100 the credit card company would help. I am worried about legal action because this would mean using Scottish law. WJ, Dorset

A Capital Car and Van Hire tells us that it did send you a cheque to repay the deposit, but this was apparently lost in the post. It adds that as soon as it learnt this did not arrive it sent you a replacement, which you should by now have received.

You are correct that, under the Consumer Credit Act, credit-card issuers have only joint liability with the seller of goods or services above the figure of £100 and none, as in your case, where the figure is exactly £100. But many banks will assist customers to resolve credit card payment disputes even where they have no legal responsibility for doing so.

If you have any questions about personal finance topics or problems, please write to Questions of Cash, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail cash@independent.co.uk. We regret that we can reply only to letters published here. Please send copies, not originals, as we cannot undertake to return material.

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