Questions of Cash – April 2016

Q. I own a 2011 VW Golf 1.6 Tdi Match DSG which I purchased in August 2014 with 30,000 miles on the clock and a full service history.  I have since used the car to commute and it now has a mileage of under 60,000.  Last September the car started showing a warning light.  Neither I nor my service centre could interpret this.  They asked VW UK, which also could not explain it.  I was told to take the car to a VW dealer for a diagnostic test.  I was not told to stop driving the car.  But the car broke down the day before the scheduled test, apparently from a major oil leak to the gearbox.  The total repair cost was £1558.90, plus a further £995.48 for a new clutch pack.  I believe the clutch pack is only required because VW failed to advise me to stop driving the car when the warning light showed.   IC, Norfolk.

Q.  I have a 2009 VW EOS 1.4 TFSI. At my service at the end of last year I was warned the timing chain was rattling, which could only be fixed through a modified part only supplied by VW.  This cost £1,073 to purchase and fit.  I asked VW for recompense for a design flaw, but it pointed out that the warranty is for three years and any goodwill gesture would only be considered if diagnosis and repair were conducted by a VW retailer.  MK, by email.

A. We spent months struggling to obtain an answer from VW on these complaints – but its press office has been distracted by dealing with enquiries related to its emission testing failures.  We now have an answer – which fails to resolve either complaint.  A VW spokesman says: “Volkswagen UK is disappointed to hear of these individual issues. However due to the age of the cars in question and their significant period outside our manufacturer warranty, we are not in a position to provide additional support in these cases. We of course remain committed to the highest standards of customer care across our retailer network in the UK.”

Q. We have had problems with Virgin Media and had to get our Tivo box [which stores tv programmes] replaced.  As a result, we lost hours of recorded tv that could not be recovered.  This caused many hours of stress and inconvenience for me.  We lost three days of service, with no free tv viewing.  We were offered a £32.92 credit as compensation.  Virgin Media simply says that no item of equipment is without problems.  MS, Essex.

A. Virgin Media says it is willing to reduce the price of your service and provide a loyalty discount in additional to the credit it previously offered.  You respond that you believe this is inadequate given the level of service disruption.  We put this to Virgin Media, whose spokeswoman responded:  “We feel we have done everything we can for the customer. We have offered a new package price, as well as a loss of service credit and an additional gesture of goodwill.”  It points out that if you remain dissatisfied you can arrange for the disconnection of your service with 30 days notice as you are not tied into a contract.

Q. We booked flights from Gatwick to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria via Madrid with BA for Christmas 2015.  The flight was transferred to Heathrow, which meant that we lost our non-refundable hotel reservation at Gatwick.  Our flight to Madrid was delayed because of problems with French air traffic control, which meant we missed our connecting flight to Las Palmas.   All flights with Iberia – BA’s partner airline – were full for that day, Christmas Eve.  We were unhappy with the support provided to us by Iberia and found for ourselves an alternative Air Europa flight, which we persuaded Iberia to book us on this.  We arrived in Las Palmas with shops and the car rental desk closed and the apartment owner had gone on holiday.  The air traffic maintenance had been planned and had also happened the day before, so we believe BA should compensate us.   BA says that air traffic control delays are not liable for compensation.  DG, London.

A. BA continues to insist that it is not liable to pay compensation to you.  Its spokeswoman says:  “EU compensation regulations do not cover restrictions enforced by air traffic control because they are beyond our control.”   If you took out travel insurance, you should submit a claim to your insurer.

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