Questions of Cash: September 2014

Posted on September 17, 2014 · Posted in The Independent

Q. In July I received an automated message on my phone asking if I had made six payments recently. The last payment, for £697.31, I did not recognise. It was refused by RBS, which advised me it would only be paid if represented by the company and I then approved it.  I assumed that was the end of the matter. A few days later I checked my account to find that the amount had been represented and gone through. I phoned the RBS Fraud Team and was interviewed by them.  They advised me that they had been informed by the police about these known fraudsters and that my money would be refunded later that day.  It was. Why if they were notified by the police that this was criminal activity and they stopped the first payment did they allow the second one through?  I was advised that my debit card had been compromised and I was issued with a new one.  But now I have been denied access to my account as it is being used by someone else!  The amount has again been taken ‘fraudulently’.  I was unable to speak to the RBS Fraud Team this time as it was out of office hours, but when I phoned the next day I was advised that I should have received, signed and returned forms confirming the transaction was fraudulent.  I did not receive the forms and I feel RBS should have contacted me to ask why I had not returned these, rather than assume I was now approving the payment.  I am furious. KY, Yorkshire.

A. We share your surprise that the non-delivery of a letter should lead RBS to assume that a payment you previously reported as fraudulent was now approved for clearance. But the system for dealing with fraudulent payments apparently allows this anomaly to happen. A spokesman for RBS explains: “We identified a payment taken from [the reader’s] account, which we reimbursed the next day to make sure he was not left out of pocket. Our process requires any customer who is a victim of this type of fraud to sign a declaration form to authorise [that] it is, in fact, a fraudulent transaction and to prevent it being taken again. We mailed a copy to the customer, but unfortunately it didn’t reach him. We have mailed further copies to the customer.”

Q. I purchased a used Mercedes-Benz B-Class from their Watford dealer in February. From the outset there were problems. When driving at high speed there was a vibration coming from the rear of the car. It turns out there was a bulge in the tyre, which the staff say they noticed as I drove out of the dealership. A bonnet catch was defective, so I couldn’t open the bonnet, and the rear wiper didn’t work. These were all fixed under the 12 month warranty, but only after a great deal of effort on my part. Customer service has been dreadful. Calls go unanswered and the car has been into the workshop four times in four months. I have been without a car on three of those occasions. I don’t know how the dealer failed to notice a bright orange bonnet catch hanging down in the footwell next to the pedals. This car costs me £335 a month and I don’t feel confident driving it, waiting for the next warning light to come on. I want Mercedes-Benz to extend the warranty, which runs out in April, to be extended for another year. I think this is a reasonable request. LB, Herts.

A. Mercedes-Benz disagrees and there is no an obvious legal reason why the warranty should be extended, though we sympathise with your view that the car seems to have been badly prepared for sale.  Angus Fitton, a spokesman for Mercedes-Benz Cars, says: “To have faults appear on a car bought either new or through our Approved Used scheme is frustrating, but to have been inconvenienced as a result of these faults taking longer than we’d hope to fix is particularly regrettable. I’m relieved that the faults on his B-Class have now been rectified through the Mercedes-Benz Approved Used warranty programme. Every warranty claim made on [the reader’s] B-Class has been met in full and without question – likewise, we investigated the problem reported with the tyre on the car as soon as it was raised. Unfortunately, the time having passed and with over 3,000-miles accrued on the vehicle between it leaving the dealer and the problem being reported meant we were unable to award further goodwill. Incidents of this kind are rare and we’re proud of our record in customer care. Nevertheless, we take [the reader’s] concerns very seriously and standards have been raised at the dealer to avoid a situation of this kind being repeated.”