Questions of Cash: 'Why was I handed check-in charge at the last minute?'


Q. We booked and paid for a holiday to Prague through Lastminute.com. When we arrived at Manchester Airport's bmibaby check-in, we were told we needed to pay another £40 as a "passport fee" and for airport check-in. We were told by bmibaby staff to take up any complaint with Lastminute.com, who told me I was not entitled to a refund. I made further complaints by letter and email, without success. The Lastminute.com website made no mention of the extra fees – which made it more expensive than if we had booked direct with the hotel and bmibaby. There was no online check-in option on Lastminute.com's website. ND, by email.

A. Lastminute.com has fully refunded the £40 and apologises. It says: "BMI has been applying Advanced Passenger Information System charges to their customers, but not all were notified of these extra charges. Lastminute.com is in the process of amending the site to accurately reflect any check-in charges that may be applied."

Q. I have three pension plans: a Virgin Stakeholder pension that has grown 28 per cent; a Sun Life Assurance personal pension plan that has grown 30 per cent; and a Prudential (previously Scottish Amicable) free standing AVC that has grown 75 per cent over seven years. The Sun Life plan has just closed to new business. Should I take this as a bad sign and move out? I am allowed to put more money into the Virgin scheme: I'm not sure about the AVC. AC North Lincs

A.Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at advisers Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "The fact your pension won't accept new business is not of itself a bad sign. However, it should prompt you to review your pension arrangements. What matters is how well your money is invested, whether the fund is the right type of investment choice for you, and how much you are paying for administration. Conventional investment theory says that the younger you are, the more investment risk you should take: whereas the closer you are to retirement, the more conservative you should be with your investments. Moving your pension savings away from Sun Life could involve penalty charges, so you need to find out how much you are paying in charges and what penalty you would pay if you move. The Virgin plan has the virtue of simplicity, but doesn't offer much in investment choice. Look at whatever scheme is available through your workplace as well.

Q. I had a Mint credit card with a maximum spending figure of £350. I hardly used it and cancelled it 18 months ago. In November last year I was sent a bill for £35 for card protection insurance, which went to an old address and was delayed in forwarding. I phoned to say that I did not want the insurance and had cancelled the card, but I was told this made no difference and the card protection was automatic. Initially I refused to pay this, but then I received a demand for the balance plus £10 interest. I have now had further demands of £40.53 for late payment. I have paid all these demands, but now received another demand for £12 for the late payment of the £40.53. This has become an expensive farce and I have had no reply to my letters asking for an explanation. I am worried I will get demands for the £35 every year. JB, by email.

A. Mint cards are issued by RBS. The bank says that you signed up for credit protection insurance when you took out your Mint card in 2003. RBS adds it warned you when you cancelled the card that you also had to cancel the insurance, which was arranged through a separate contract, but that you were late in carrying out the insurance cancellation. It has cancelled some of the late payment charges in order to leave your account with a zero balance.

Q. I have a Virgin MBNA credit card. At the beginning of September I left my monthly payment to the last moment. The minimum payment was due on 2 September and, when I realised I was short of time, I logged on to the MBNA website and paid £400 by debit card on 1 September. The amount was cleared from my account on 2 September. But on the next Virgin MBNA statement I was charged £12 for late payment and issued with a default notice – which presumably affects my credit rating. So where was the money? AM, by email.

A. Credit card statements specify a minimum period that you must allow prior to the payment due date. In the case of your MBNA card, this is two days before the due date. MBNA says this remains the case even when making a payment via its own website, although you appear to have assumed the payment would be made instantaneously. According to MBNA, it takes two days for the payment to arrive. It explains: "The payment is sent via the banking system and two days is industry standard for this process. The money has to be requested by MBNA from [the reader's bank] account: clearing and reconciliation must then be factored into the timescales. However, payments can appear in advance of the money actually being credited to the account. This is why [the reader's] bank balance availability appeared on 2 September, but did not arrive in his [MBNA] account until 3 September. This made him one day overdue on his payments. We recommend that [the reader] sets up a minimum direct debit to ensure that no further late fees are incurred. As a gesture of goodwill and without liability, we will refund the £12 charge. There has been no impact on [the reader's] credit record."

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

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

    Laura Norton: Project Accountant

    £50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine