Questions of Cash – April 2016

Posted on June 8, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q.  I have 18 old Abbey National Citicorp travellers’ cheques, with a total face value of $850.  In April 2014 I read in Questions of Cash that Santander would cash Abbey National Citicorp travellers’ cheques.  But when I went to my local Santander branch I was told that there would be a £10 charge per cheque.  That means I would be charged £180 to redeem them.  Is this a fair charge?  I would be left with around £400, less than half their value.  PB, by email.

A.  On current exchange rates, $850 converts to about £590. Santander’s charge of £10 per cheque would, as you say, leave you with about £400, which is a lot more than half the face value.  Having said that, we share your view that the charge of £180 seems – to put it politely – steep.  A spokeswoman for Santander justified the charge, saying “The £10 fee is applicable to redeem travellers’ cheques through Santander. This is part of our terms and conditions. The fee is applicable as this is a non-standard service and it is a complex transaction. This fee would be to handle the conversion and processing of the cheques and is applicable to all customers intending to redeem foreign or travellers’ cheques. Other banks will have their own fees applicable and may vary.”  She also said the charge “is in line with the industry”. That £10 fee is per cheque, no matter how many cheques are presented.  We had hoped that Santander would charge either no fee or only a small fee, given that it took over the business of Abbey National, which had issued the travellers’ cheques.  Initially we were given some hope that a lower charge could be agreed as Santander suggested that you arrange to cancel the batch of travellers’ cheques and replace them with a single travellers’ cheque.  But when we asked for clarification of how this could be done, we were told that we had been given incorrect advice owing to confusion at Santander’s end.  Earlier this year (Questions of Cash, 13 February 2016), Citi offered to help encash another reader’s old Citi travellers’ cheques.  Citi has again agreed to help out.  Its spokesman said: “Clients need a financial institution they can count on for the long term, so Citi is pleased to assist in covering the value of these cheques in this instance.”

Q. You already helped my family get a response from Royal Mail to our request for first day covers, enabling us to place an order (Questions of Cash, 27 February, 2016). But after my husband ordered the first day covers he didn’t receive them, even though the payment was taken from his account on the same day.  Since then we have had no luck in getting any straight answers from Royal Mail.  Its system seems to be fully automated and staff apparently haven’t read the email that my husband sent.  VR, London.

A. Royal Mail has now sent your husband the ordered first day covers, along with a goodwill gesture to apologise for the delay.

Q.  I bought a Qatar Airways business class ticket from London to Luxor via Doha. The ticket conditions allowed me to make changes.  I was booked on an 8.00 flight from London to Doha,

arriving in Doha at 16.55 and connecting with the Luxor flight the next morning at 07.15.  I wanted to leave London at a later time and found at least eight available seats on the 21.30 flight arriving at 06.10 the next day, still giving me enough time to continue on the original flight to Luxor.  But when I phoned Qatar Airways the operator refused to change the ticket informing me that there were ‘no seats available’.  I was told that I would have to rebook for that flight and pay again!  I had to upgrade to first class at a cost of almost £400.  It seems that the airline is inventing rules to stop a passenger from changing their ‘changeable’ ticket unless the passenger pays extra!  LS, Sussex.

A. Qatar Airways explains that it was not possible to make a change to the ticket as there was no availability in business class for the London to Luxor part of your journey. A spokesman for the airline clarifies: “As the flight was booked with a connection, as per our terms and conditions, there must be availability in the same fare class on both flights in order to change departure dates or times.”