Questions Of Cash: 'Why is it so hard to use my Visa card abroad?'


Q. I am having problems with Lloyds TSB Airmiles Duo Cards. My card expired on 31 July and I expected a new card to be sent automatically. No card arrived by 26 July. I was due to go on holiday abroad three days later so I phoned and was told it had been despatched. Still it didn't arrive and, when I phoned again, I was told it had not been sent out as part of efforts to improve fraud control. I had wanted to use this card to collect the Airmiles. When I returned from holiday on 11 August there was still no card. I rang Lloyds again and was told it would arrive within seven days. It didn't. I phoned again and was told a block had been put on the card. The block is normally placed because of arrears, which I don't have, or because there has been fraudulent behaviour, which there hasn't been. I have now been assured the block has been lifted and the card will arrive within five working days. I'm not convinced. RN, by email.

A. Lloyds says there has been "some technical difficulties" which caused a delay in sending out your replacement card, which you have now received. Lloyds has credited your account with £50 and 150 Airmiles – the equivalent of spending £750 abroad on your card – as a gesture of goodwill.

Q. I work in Thailand, where I rely on my Abbey UK online linked current and savings lifetime accounts. I set up the accounts with the bank in 2008, before I left the UK. Apparently, there has been some attempted fraud using my Visa debit card and I could not access cash from my account from an ATM. I spent £8 phoning the UK to listen to piped music, before being told the block on my card had been removed. I made another four unsuccessful attempts at withdrawing cash, had to buy another three phone cards and then made four more calls to Abbey without joy. It turned out the cards had been permanently blocked and I must reopen my accounts. My wife went to our local branch, as arranged, to collect a card, but she was unsuccessful. I then made another two hours of phone calls to Abbey. I have now been told it is necessary for me to return to the UK to collect the cards in person. Can you arrange something that I have found impossible to do? ML, Thailand.

A. Abbey tells us that a replacement Visa debit card was ordered on 17 August – the date we first contacted Abbey. It was delivered to your UK home address, from where your wife despatched it to you in Thailand. New e-banking and PIN details have been set-up. Abbey apologises and is paying you £75 in compensation.

Q. I was interested to read of the problem a reader had with thetrainline.com (Questions of Cash, 29 August). In March, I purchased a ticket to travel from Wolverhampton to London on 2 April. My plans changed and I applied for a refund of £32.65 on the same day. On checking my credit card statement at the end of June, I realised that I hadn't received the refund. Repeated attempts to get the refund since then have been unsuccessful. GE, Edinburgh.

A.Thetrainline.com apologises. It promises you will have received the refund by the time this is published.

Q. On 28 March 2009 my family and I went away. On our return, on 23 April, the bathroom floor had been flooded with water that had come through the ceiling. When my wife switched on the lights, all the lights in the house went off. We then realised the water had seeped through the ceiling via the electrical light panel. After speaking to our insurers, PaymentShield, I obtained a quote from a roofing contractor. He said part of the roof was damaged and needed urgent repair. My neighbours told me that we had a lot of rain while we were away. But in May I received a letter from RSA, the underwriters, rejecting my claim. I now have a damaged roof, a soiled and damaged bathroom ceiling and a dangerous light fitting with no lights. VP, Pinner.

A. RSA says your policy covers storm damage, but not weather damage resulting from wear and tear, or poor maintenance. A spokeswoman explains: "Under the Beaufort Scale, a storm is defined as Force 10 and involves wind speeds of 55 to 63mph. However, slight structural damage may occur at wind speeds in excess of 47mph, or at Force 9. Force 9 is categorised as a 'severe gale'. For a claim to be processed successfully under the storm peril there must be wind speeds in excess of 47 mph and/or a rainfall of at least 4mm in one hour. According to weather information service Eurotempest, the highest wind speed while the customer was absent from the property was 31 mph. The insured must also be able to prove (by obtaining a cause of damage report) that the damage was the result of a single incident of storm, rather than generally bad weather or a combination of poor weather and an existing defect/maintenance issue. We have received confirmation from the insured's builders that the damage to the roof was the result of wear and tear, not wind or rain. In view of there being no storm conditions on or around the date [the reader] reported the claim, and due to the information given by the insured's builders, we maintain our original decision."

If you want to challenge the RSA decision you should commission a cause of damage report that supports your version of events. You may also need to find alternative evidence of the severity of the weather in your absence. You can also lodge a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service, seeking to reverse the decision.

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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