Questions of Cash – February 2016

Posted on March 29, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q. I booked a truck for three days in New York, through Avis.com. Avis charged me twice for this.  After I enquired about this, Avis cancelled the booking.  Avis still has my money – which has maxed-out my credit card.  DH, London.

A. When we took this up with Avis, it claimed everything had already been properly sorted out.  Its spokeswoman explained: “Avis can confirm that [the reader] made an online reservation on Avis.com, and our records show that he subsequently cancelled this at a later date. Following the cancellation, a full refund of $426.33 was issued.  No duplicate charge was made to [the reader].  However, we did over-refund an amount of $401.33, which we have since billed to recover.”

Given the discrepancy between your version of events and that of Avis, we checked this with you.  You responded: “That’s not correct at all. It did get resolved, but what happened was that when I made the booking their system charged me twice.  Avis had recorded two bookings for me, yet I had only made one.  After more than 30 phone calls to the US and UK offices I eventually got the duplicate booking cancelled and the charge refunded.  However, a $20 cancellation fee was deducted and I paid nearly £100 in international phone costs.”

We went back to Avis.  On this occasion, the Avis spokeswoman answered: “Avis can confirm that two charges were applied for the cancelled reservation and both have now been refunded. We would like to apologise for any confusion caused by this. Following direct correspondence with the customer, [the reader] has advised the Avis customer services team that he is taking the query up with his credit card company. We are happy to continue to work with both [the reader] and his credit card company to reach a satisfactory resolution.”  We are happy to contact the credit card issuer on your behalf if you do not obtain full payment recovery.

Q. I bought an expensive branded dress online from House of Fraser, but it had a mark on the waistband and faults on the beading.  It was on a non-branded hanger, which made me suspect it was a returned item, even though I was promised by House of Fraser that it never resold a returned item.  I took it to one of their stores, but was told I could not get a refund as one had already been processed.  So it was a wasted journey.  I asked for £15 to cover my costs, but it will only offer me an e-voucher for this amount, which is not acceptable as I will not use House of Fraser again.  MS, by email.

A. We contacted House of Fraser, which has now sent you a payment of £15.

Q. I booked a flight with Icelandair to depart from Glasgow to Keflavik for 20 December last year, departure at 13.20.  I received an email and text on 19 December – less than 20 hours before departure – saying that the departure time had been changed to 19.20.  This meant that my wife and I would miss our connecting Icelandair flight to New York, which was scheduled to leave Keflavik at 17.05.  We had to leave our Christmas family party for two hours, borrow a computer and a telephone to contact Icelandair’s UK office. I was placed in a queue for over 70 minutes before speaking to an Icelandair representative. She explained that there was a technical issue with the plane, which caused the delay.  She was sympathetic and offered us options of either flying the following day – which would mean arriving in New York on a Monday evening, when we had arranged activities during the day of that Monday – or flying with BA from Glasgow to Heathrow at 06.50, to catch a BA flight from Heathrow to Keflavik at 11.20.  We could then catch our intended flight from Keflavik to New York.  This was far from ideal, but was the best of the two options offered.  As we had to fly first thing the next day we had to leave the party early to take our dog to a kennel a day sooner than planned, costing an extra day in kennel fees.  We also had to pay for a taxi to the airport, as we could not ask a friend to take us at 03.30.  We also had to buy breakfast at Heathrow, which was another additional expense.  I had participated in Icelandair’s Class Up scheme, bidding £80 per person to upgrade on the Glasgow to Keflavik leg. This was as a surprise to my wife, as she was very nervous about flying.  When we got to Keflavik I asked if the upgrade could be transferred to the flight to New York and I was told this was not possible.  I also requested that we use their Saga lounge given that we had very little sleep the night before – I was told this was also not possible.  As we could not avail of the Class Up arrangement that I had paid for, we also had to buy food at Keflavik airport.  I asked Icelandair’s staff for a refund and was told bluntly that this was ‘not their problem’, and to contact customer services.  On the return trip, we were again told we could not have a seat upgrade.  I would like a refund of the upgrade charges and our additional expenses.  DS, Glasgow.

A. Icelandair says it did not receive your original refund claim.  You have now received compensation of £596.33. A spokeswoman for Icelandair says: “We sincerely apologise for all the inconvenience [the reader] and the other passengers booked on this Glasgow flight on 20st of December had.   Unfortunately situations like this can always occur in aviation and are always frustrating for the affected passengers.  We have now refunded the class up fee and other expenses related to the flight delay directly to [the reader] and also the EU cash compensation he is entitled to.”