Questions of Cash – April 2016

Q. I placed an order last October with Blackberry for its PRIV mobile with protective leather case, pre-paying £603.99 by PayPal.  It arrived mid-November, but I did not like it.  I contacted Blackberry within 48 hours by e-mail, which agreed it could be returned and I would be sent a refund. I used a returns document and returns label, supplied by Blackberry.  FedEx delivered it on 12 December.  I have never received the refund.  Blackberry’s support team claim to be unable to confirm or deny ever receiving my package, unless I quote the FedEx tracking number. This I do not have, as the returns label FedEx provided expired in December. FedEx is now unable to trace the tracking number.  My email to Blackberry went unanswered and I have been unable to resolve the problem by phone.  AM, Sussex.

A. We raised this with Blackberry, which failed to respond to us.  However, after we contacted Blackberry it told you that the returned phone has been traced to a warehouse in the United States.  Your PayPal account has now been refunded.

Q. I use Scottish Power for my gas and electricity.  My gas is supplied with a quarterly bill, while I pay my electricity with a prepaid meter which I top up monthly with £30, which I find lasts the month.   I have done this for three years.  When I phoned Scottish Power to pay my gas bill the advisor confused my gas and electricity accounts and told me that I had a £738 credit on my electricity account.  When I queried this he said “it will even itself out over the year”.  It seems I am being overcharged.  CP, Liverpool.

A. We spoke with Scottish Power.  There was a misunderstanding between you and its phone operative.   The supposed ‘credit’ does not represent a credit balance on the account, but rather the amount of credit paid into the account since you began buying electricity from Scottish Power.  Consequently there is no credit balance on the account.  You should continue to prepay your electricity as before.

Q. I have not had internet access for more than two weeks. The internet is especially important to me as I have MS and I am largely confined to the house.  I rely on it for food shopping and social contact.  We have two children who have been unable to do their school homework.  EE is supposed to be our internet provider, but when we reported the fault it said it was an external problem which would be fixed within a week, but it was not.  The next time we phoned we were told the problem was with our router.  A new router took several days to arrive, but that did not fix it.  We were then told the problem was with the landline and that it would take longer to sort out.  We then lodged a formal complaint with EE, which has not even acknowledged this.  JP, Glasgow.

A. EE says the fault was with the landline and was eventually fixed just over a month after you initially lost your broadband. It has provided you with “a gesture of goodwill”, which you tell us was four months free service rental.

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 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 found an Air Europa flight and 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 was planned, so we believe BA should compensate us.   BA says that air traffic control delays are not liable for compensation.  DG, London.

A. BA insists it is not liable to pay compensation.  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.

Q. I purchased a 2011 VW Golf 1.6 Tdi Match DSG in August 2014 with 30,000 miles on the clock and a full service history.  I use the car to commute and it now has a mileage of nearly 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, 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.

A. We have spent months struggling to obtain answers from VW – its press office has been distracted by dealing with enquiries about 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.”

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