Questions of Cash: March 2014

Posted on March 14, 2014 · Posted in The Independent

Q.  I bought three identical Acer V3 laptops from PC World to give as Christmas presents to my triplet sons.   But when the boys opened the presents and started to use them, only two of the laptops worked.  I took the third, faulty, laptop to my local PC World store in Newbury on 26 December.  The store described the problem on the repair docket as ‘blooming’ on the screen.  PC World decided there was ‘liquid damage’ that could not have happened before the laptop was unpacked and that it should be returned to me unrepaired.  The inference was that the machine was ‘damaged’ by ‘liquid’ by us.  I was invited to have the laptop inspected by an independent engineer, but when I went to collect the laptop from the store it was not there.  Instead it was sent away and sat at a PC World workshop for a month without being repaired.  IM, Newbury.

 

A.  Initially PC World insisted to us that its diagnosis was correct.  But it agreed that if an independent engineer confirmed your explanation that the laptop was not damaged by you and there had been a manufacturing fault, it would replace the faulty laptop and cover the cost of the engineer’s report.  The report you then commissioned concluded: “The problem with the display is known as ‘clouding’ or ‘Mura’….  Mura appears to be a manufacturing fault in the display panel.  Display panels with this fault cannot be repaired and must be replaced…. In my opinion the technical staff at PC World should have recognised a known fault and the laptop should be replaced as it was faulty when they sold it to you.”  PC World has accepted this report and has agreed to cover its £72 cost.  It is also providing you with a replacement model that is of a higher specification than the faulty laptop.  This means, unfortunately, that your three sons will not have identical laptops, but this is unavoidable as PC World says the particular model you bought is no longer available.

 

Q.  I applied for a mortgage through a broker, who applied on my behalf in November 2013 to the Hanley Economic Building Society for a Two Year Fixed Term Mortgage at 2.59 per cent.  I have now, in February 2014, received a new mortgage offer.  I see that my existing fixed term mortgage ends in October 2015, which means I will be making only 19 monthly payments at 2.59 per cent.  I will be losing five months of my fixed rate mortgage.  I spoke to the Hanley Economic Building Society, which said this is just the way it is and I should accept the new offer.  PU, West Midlands.

 

A.  The issue here is about the definition of a ‘two year fixed rate mortgage’.  Rob Hassall, business development manager of the Hanley Economic Building Society explains: “The term ‘Two Year Fixed Rate’ is commonly used to describe the classification of term for a fixed rate product. In our experience, consumers will ask for a two, three or five year fixed rate as a general rule, rather than asking for something fixed until a specific end date.  In [the reader’s] case he received advice from a third party mortgage broker who refers mortgage business to Hanley Economic Building Society (HEBS). I am sure he [would have explained] that some ‘Two Year Fixed Rates’ are actually to a fixed date and not from starting from the account inception. When the customer decides to proceed he is issued a Key Facts Illustration (KFI) generated by HEBS which will detail the product features including number of payments, monthly cost, length of term and what happens after the initial fixed rate period. The customer is then issued a Key Facts Offer or KFO, which again confirms the items within the KFI.”  We offered to take the matter up with your broker, but you did not respond.

 

Q.  I was approached in June 2013 by Lingo Service Translations to provide urgent translations of educational documents into Welsh. I duly obliged. However, the company, despite several promises, has not paid me the billed £365 28. Email requests and reminders have gone unanswered. Telephone calls have not been answered and messages left went unheeded. HW, Wales.

 

Q.  In June 2013, I was approached by a translation agency called Lingo Service Translations to translate a number of documents into Welsh. The first payment of £504.40 was made in August 2013, nearly a month later than I was promised.

I’m still waiting for the second payment. I phoned Lingo on several occasions and emailed them, only to get an answering service and no replies to my email. In January this year I was asked to translate more documents and I reminded them they still owed me £176.36.  I received an apology and a promise of payment.  I then had another message asking me for details of a Paypal account, which I don’t have and I don’t see why they need that as they paid my first fee into my bank account.  GJ, Wales.

 

A.  We contacted Lingo Service Transactions after being contacted by the reader HW and received a prompt response explaining that all the other translators working on this project had been paid several months ago and that HW’s invoice had been unpaid because of delays in his billing.  We were promised a payment within two weeks.  That was more than a month ago and HW tells us that he has still not been paid.  We have since been contacted by the other freelance translator, GJ.  We have contacted Lingo again, advising the business that unless it paid you both promptly we would report this in the column.  We have had no reply to those latest communications and we understand that you both have still not been paid.  We suggest that you issue proceedings in the Small Claims Court against the company.  The procedure is straightforward and cheap.  Details for proceedings in England and Wales are available at www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/overview.