Questions of Cash – August 2013

Q.  I bought a Sony Vaio laptop using the Windows 8 operating system from PC World.  The staff persuaded me to buy Norton Gold security.  I have had problems accessing emails, the internet and other functions.  I had to pay the relative of a friend £20 to show me how to use the laptop.  There are still problems, including the regular message ‘Norton is not installed’, even though it is.  Eventually I decided to return the laptop to PC World and request a refund.  Staff at PC World were very patient, explaining there were no problems with the laptop and told me how to use it.  But when I got home and tried, I spent hours of frustration and was in tears.  Why was I not told when I purchased the laptop that Windows 8 was causing so many problems?  If I had known I would not have bought the laptop and carried on using a PC at the library for my limited needs.  MG, London.


A.  As you imply, Windows 8 has been widely criticised – to the extent that Microsoft has had to redesign aspects of it.  The big problem is that it is a touchscreen based system, which many people who are unused to smart phones and are attuned to keyboards find difficult to use.  We took this up with PC World.  Its staff again tried to sort your problems out, but it has recognised that the Windows 8 operating system does not meet your needs.  PC World has therefore taken the laptop back and given you a full refund.  You are very happy with this.


Q.  I have a problem with Qatar Airways.  I booked and paid for a business class flight from Luxor to Doha, flying on 9 March, paying with my Barclays debit card.  On 9 March I was advised by ground crew at Luxor Airport that there was no business class cabin on the flight.  I was given the options of flying business class the next day, flying economy class and receiving a free business class flight from Luxor to Doha for a later date, or flying economy class and receiving a refund of the difference between the two fares, plus $150 (£98) compensation.  I accepted the latter option and flew economy class.  On my return I emailed Qatar Airways for details of how I could claim my compensation.  It took six weeks for the airline to respond, only to tell me that I was not entitled to anything.  I complained and after another three weeks I was told that all I was entitled to was a refund of the difference between the two fares.  I have complained by email another three times, but I have not had a response.  LS, by email.


A.  We also had difficulty communicating with Qatar Airways.  Emails to several of its listed contact points bounced as undeliverable.  Given those difficulties, we contacted Barclays and requested that it regard the transaction as in dispute.  It was essential to do so promptly as there is a time limit to consider disputes under Visa chargeback rules.  Barclays subsequently issued a chargeback against Qatar Airways, so, as it stands at present, you have not paid for the flight.  In the mean time, Qatar Airways contacted you, apologised for the quality of service and made a new offer, which you accepted, equivalent to a free return business class ticket from Luxor to Doha – a journey that you do freequently.  Richard Oliver, country manager for UK and Ireland for Qatar Airways, says: “[The reader] had booked a return airfare online from Luxor to Colombo in business class with special conditions. The Luxor to Doha section of the flight was changed to only operate in economy and [the reader] was informed of this change prior to reaching Luxor airport.  Due to the special restrictive fare that [the reader] had booked, there was no fare difference due when the cost was recalculated for the one-way Luxor-Doha section of the flight. However, [the reader] is entitled to compensation of $125 (£82), which he can collect from Qatar Airways in Luxor.”  In effect, you have been fully refunded for the flight ticket twice over.  We suspect that this may be corrected in the course of time.  We are concerned that while Qatar Airways told us that it would provide you with a cash refund, in its email to you it proposed a solution involving the award of loyalty points that could be redeemed as a new flight.  This difference may not be important – if it causes problems, please contact us again.
Q.  I am hoping that you will be able to help me sort out my Bank of Scotland credit card account.  Bank of Scotland claims that I made three transactions over the internet – for £100.99, £43.00 and £133.98 – which I did not.  I am disabled, deaf and have an inoperable brain tumour.  On the day I was alleged to have made the online transactions I was actually in hospital.  I cannot communicate with banks over the phone, which they do not like and it is best to contact me by text phone.  I am desperate for help and have no one else to ask.  AC, Glasgow.


A.  Your disabilities caused you to write to us, rather than emailing as we prefer.  This unfortunately caused a delay in us receiving your request.  By the time we did, the Bank of Scotland had resolved this problem.  A spokesman for the Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Bank of Scotland, says: “We are sorry that [the reader] experienced difficulty in resolving his complaint and, by way of an apology, we have paid him £50 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused.  We also credited an additional £43 to clear the outstanding balance [on the credit card account].”  He added that the bank has strong procedures to combat financial crime, but where fraud does occur “we ensure [customers] do not sustain any financial disadvantage”.

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