Questions of Cash: December 2014

Q. I am having difficulty with the Co-operative Bank. On 3 November I called the bank to explain that a health insurer would be charging £1,370.40 against my account. I was told there should be no problem with the credit card transaction, but that if there were the bank’s fraud department would call me to verify. But when the insurer tried to make the transaction it was declined.  I am within my credit limit. I also explained that I would be travelling throughout South East Asia during January to March next year and asked if this could be noted. The bank said this was not possible and that I would have to call from each country to advise my local number.  This seems a tiresome procedure.  Is it really necessary? NL, Philippines.

A. The Co-operative Bank explains that the transaction was declined because the health insurer provided incorrect account details. There was no reason for this to generate a call from the fraud department, as this was not an attempt to conduct a fraudulent transaction. The insurer has since made a fresh attempt at conducting the transaction, provided the correct account details and the payment was processed. However, the bank accepts that it did not handle the matter efficiently. A spokeswoman says: “Whilst no errors have been made by the bank, we have listened to the customer calls and accept in this instance that [the reader’s] calls would have been more straightforward had we ensured more detailed notes on his account had been made and we can understand why [the reader] may have expected a call from our fraud department.” The bank apologises. It has credited your account with a goodwill payment of £50, plus a further £15 to cover the cost of your international calls to the bank.

Q. In early October I updated my phone from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5S on my contract with Three. The contract is in my husband’s name. I upgraded my account to ensure that I have the most reliable phone possible. I was diagnosed with cancer in December and had surgical treatments which have affected my mobility and mean I spend quite a lot of time in hospitals and travelling to and from them. It also leads to anxiety issues when my freedom of movement or access is restricted. When I bought the phone I specified that I do not want insurance or the ‘Three rescue’ service. Yet I have had 15 calls and lots of texts trying to sell me the insurance and ‘Three rescue’. I now find the handset has three faults: the screen does not always allow me to access my contacts list, I can’t always answer calls and the phone sometimes gets very hot – when it is in use, not while charging. We tried to return the handset to the store where we bought it, where the manager accepted there was a fault but refused to change the phone as the fault is intermittent and could not be demonstrated. He said that in a previous incident he had returned a handset and Apple had not accepted the return, causing lots of problems with the insurance loss adjuster. The manager suggested we take the handset to an Apple store – the nearest one is 32 miles away. But when we went to an Apple store we would told we had to make an appointment and there wasn’t one for two days. My husband went back to Three again, insisting it was Three’s responsibility as the contract was with Three. They again refused. I cannot be without a working phone as I have three hospital appointments in the next month. SB, Oxfordshire.

A. Three has now provided you with a new phone and also given you a direct contact number should you have any further problems. A spokeswoman says: “We’ve resolved the issue with the customer and apologise for the inconvenienced caused.” We wish you well with your treatment.

Q. I have a VW Golf Mark VI, bought new in 2009. A couple of weeks ago, the car broke down and had to be taken to the garage on the back of breakdown truck.  The diagnosis was the failure of the EGR Valve, with a total repair cost of nearly £1,000.  A bit of research showed other Mark VI owners have had similar problems and that complaints to VW dealerships have resulted in ‘goodwill’ reductions on bills of around 50 per cent.  Surely valves should last the life of an engine and VW should recall the model and fix the fault.  VW does not accept this, but my VW garage has matched the 50 per cent ‘goodwill’ offer.  BC, Somerset.

A. Volkswagen UK conducted its own investigation at our request, but has rejected your argument.  A spokeswoman says: “The car does not have a full Volkswagen UK franchised service history and we do not have any evidence of prior repairs.”  VW therefore declines to provide support beyond the 50 per cent reduction on the repair bill previously agreed.

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