Questions of Cash: The Independent

Posted on October 1, 2011 · Posted in The Independent

Q. On checking my credit card account I discovered that CPP has automatically debited my credit card for the last 11 years for an ID card protection policy, while sending policy renewal letters to an address that I moved from in 2000. My cards don’t seem to have been protected at all – being registered at the incorrect address! I phoned CPP twice, but no advice was given about making a complaint; no refund was offered; and no policy cancellation letter has arrived. EH, London.

A. A spokesman for CPP says “It seems the fault resides with CPP.” Accordingly, a cheque for £257.99 is being sent to you. The spokesman adds: “In May 2001 we were alerted to a change of address and then in the same month the address details reverted back to those first registered with CPP. We can find no explanation as to why this happened and we can only deduce it was a system error. As a consequence, [the reader’s] renewal notifications were sent to her old address.” As is common practice amongst insurers, the company automatically renews policies when they reach their end. The company explains: “In order to give the best possible service to our customers, all our policies automatically renew and we provide full details of this process in the policy terms and conditions. We adopt this approach to ensure we maintain continuous protection for our customers.”

Q. I booked flights from Belfast to Bali Denpasar through Mark One Travel in Hounslow. I was to depart Belfast on a British Midland flight, leaving at 5.00 pm and arriving at London Heathrow terminal 1 at 6:20 pm. My China Airlines flight departed at 9.00 pm from terminal 4. BMI changed the departure time to 6.00pm and the flight was delayed on the day by a further 30 minutes. This meant I missed my China Airlines flight. The travel agent did not give me enough time for the connection and I should have been put on an earlier flight. Having missed my flight I had to stay in London for two days and buy a new flight to Bali with Qatar Airlines. The agent asked me to sign a form to enable him to obtain a refund, which I have not received despite weekly phone calls. I have tried to claim on my travel insurance, but the insurer insists that three hours must be allowed between landing and take-off for connecting flights. RK, Belfast.

A. ABTA – the Association of British Travel Agents – says that problems like this should not be possible. A spokesman explains: “Agents use a ‘global distribution system’.  The system will provide minimum connection times.  Those minimum times are not set in stone.  There is a minimum of two hours, where it is the same terminal, or a bit longer where a different terminal at the same airport.  These are not legal requirements.” In your case, there was insufficient time for you to make the transfer and the boarding gate was closed by the time you crossed from terminals 1 to 4. ABTA adds that insurers will sometimes permit a two hour connection time, but not where this involves flights arriving and departing from different terminals. Your insurer was therefore justified in rejecting your claim. Mark One Travel has accepted your claim and is making a payment that will be lodged in your travelling companion’s bank account on 15 September. The processing of the claim was delayed because a package of receipt copies sent by you to the agent was apparently lost in the post.

Q. My wife received a letter to Bank of Ireland bondholders in June, giving options of accepting or rejecting an offer to redeem the bonds at a value of between £160 and £200 per 1000 bonds. Those who vote against will get zilch. What upsets me is that although these are described as subordinated bonds, they were originally issued in 2003 by the Bristol and West Building Society as PIBS [permanent interest bearing shares] with a value of £3,695. HE, Gwent.

A. The Bank of Ireland bought the Bristol and West Building Society in 1997. The PIBS shares in Bristol and West were then treated by Bank of Ireland as bonds. Interest on the bonds was paid by Bank of Ireland, but the financial crisis caused the bank to seek to substantially reduce the value of subordinated bonds. However, a campaign by holders of bonds and former Bristol and West PIBS led to the Bank of Ireland withdrawing the proposal affecting your wife’s holding. The Bank of Ireland says that a further proposal will be issued at some point in the future. We share your concern that shares issued by a highly rated British building society could end up as subordinated bonds in an Irish bank that had to be rescued by the Irish government.

Q. My son had a £10 monthly contract with Vodafone that included 500 texts, whereas my daughter’s was for £10 with unlimited texts. Until April my son sent very few texts, but when he had a girlfriend these increased to well over his 500 limit for April and May. When I saw a bill for £233 debited from my bank account I contacted Vodafone, which told me that my son had gone substantially over his text limit and had ignored another bill for £197, payment for which would also be taken soon. He was not warned by Vodafone that he had reached his texting limit and this was a genuine error by us. We have now upgraded his account, but we feel cheated and calls to Vodafone have got nowhere. We complained to the telephone ombudsman, who said he does not deal with bills. TM, by email.

A. Vodafone stresses that it is the customer’s responsibility to monitor their phone use and the number of messages they send: it does not warn customers when they have exceeded their contract limits. However, it has credited your account with £63 as a gesture of goodwill.