Questions Of Cash: When an inclusive price has an add-on

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Q. I bought a Virgin Atlantic flight to Adelaide on the Travelocity website. The price was advertised as inclusive of fees and taxes. I went through the booking process until the last page where I had to click to purchase, finding the total payable increased by an unexplained £20. I found a link to the flight details which showed the £20 was a fee to allow me to pick up the ticket at the airport. Yet I was not given an option of an e-ticket. Virgin Atlantic told me IATA regulations did not allow an e-ticket to be issued on this route. I told Travelocity they must have known about this, so the extra £20 should have been in the initial fare quote. It said I could see the fare before making the booking and that if I had doubts I should have consulted its sales team. SN, by email.



A. Virgin Atlantic told us that it had not imposed the fee, which was entirely a matter for Travelocity. Travelocity said that on the few routes where e-ticketing is not available it uses "a third-party partner to print close-to-date-of-travel tickets", the cost of which it passes on to customers. "In such cases the charge is clearly stated on all booking pages so the customer is fully aware of the incurred cost," it argues. However, it accepts that this was only made clear to you "in this isolated incident" and as a one-off it has refunded your £20.



Q. I have discovered I've not been insured for months through incompetence by Zurich Motor Insurance. I have had several cars in recent years. In January I had a renewal notice for a Renault Megane that I sold in July last year. When I phoned it emerged that instead of transferring that insurance to my new Citroen, it had transferred my policy from my Mercedes, which I still own. As a result, my Mercedes has been uninsured for six months, while I have been driving it extensively. After a lengthy phone conversation, I agreed with Zurich a renewal premium. But when the confirmation arrived, the renewal was for the Megane. I then received the confirmation of the revised policy for the Mercedes – with a commencement date the following month. I am exasperated. GA, by email.



A. Zurich eventually apologised and confirmed that, as far as it was concerned, you were covered throughout the period in question. A spokesman says: "We have passed the relevant feedback and training to the colleagues he spoke with. The correct vehicles are on cover with the right policies in place."



Q. I have an Alliance & Leicester passbook in the joint names of my husband and myself, showing a credit balance of £1,052.19 as at October 1999. It is for an instant-access account and the passbook states that it is required for any withdrawal to be made. Yet when I notified Alliance & Leicester of a change of address it told me the account was dormant. After completing forms I was told the account had been closed by a cash withdrawal in November 1999 from a branch 200 miles from where I lived. It says there would have been a signed withdrawal, but that these are only kept for 36 months. PS, Swindon.



A. It is normal practice for financial institutions to have procedures that allow withdrawals to be made when a passbook has been lost and it appears that this procedure was instigated by someone claiming to be you or your husband to withdraw the balance on your account. We share your concern that records are kept for such a short time, preventing checks being made on the authenticity of the signature. Given the stalemate between you and Alliance & Leicester, you have sensibly now referred the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.



Q. Last year, before going on holiday, we ordered a sun tent from a baby and toddler website called Funky Lil Ones. Despite ordering it weeks in advance, it did not arrive in time for our holiday. The courier came while we were in France and took it away again. We sent Funky Lil Ones letters in August, November and December explaining we no longer wanted the sun tent, yet we are still awaiting our refund. Surely the courier can confirm that we neither received nor signed for the tent? GM, Suffolk.



A. Funky Lil Ones tells us that it is still trying to recover the tent from the courier. However, it advises us that it credited your Paypal account with the value of the tent last December. But it seems that you did not receive the email notifying this and consequently the amount was unclaimed and eventually returned to Funky Lil Ones. It is now recrediting your account with the value of the refund.



Q. I have paid cash into my daughter's Halifax Cardcash account occasionally over several years. But Halifax no longer accepts cash over the counter, so if I make payments into this account I will no longer get a receipt. Halifax tells me I should enclose cash in an envelope, write on the outside how much is there and drop it in a machine. Halifax warns: "The bank will not be liable for any difference between the contents and the amounts stated on the envelope. The bank's decision on the contents is final." As there is no check by a member of staff in the branch, the system seems open to abuse. GM, Frome.



A. Halifax gave us a statement: "Cardcash is an account we no longer offer to new customers – it was closed to new business three years ago. It is a card-based account operated via cash machines. Most of our ATMs accept deposits – but not all of them, so occasionally customers needed to use the counter. About two years ago all our branches had "intelligent deposit machines" installed. These allow customers to deposit cash quickly and securely, avoiding queues. The deposits are checked by two members of staff and the customer is given a receipt for the deposit. Cardcash customers can use these deposit machines or the ATMs – the choice is theirs. The risk of fraud is very, very limited. We are currently going through a process of transferring remaining Cardcash customers to either full-facilities current accounts, or our Easycash account, which offer more facilities than Cardcash."

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk

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