Questions of Cash: December 2015

Q. I saw the letters from AT, London (Questions of Cash, 5 September) and TB, Carmarthen (Questions of Cash, 24 October) about Lowell Financial.  I have had the same problem.  In February 2013 my husband and I received a letter from Lowell Financial with the correct address and surname, but a wrong first name.  It claimed this person had an outstanding debt to O2 of £778.50.  My husband phoned Lowell to explain that this person was not known to us and had never lived at this address. He was told that our address would be removed from the link to this debt.  I phoned Lowell a few days later seeking reassurance that our address had been removed, but I was told they could give me no more information because of the Data Protection Act.  In June this year we received an identical letter to the previous one, same name, same address, same debt – so much for their previous reassurance.  I again phoned Lowell to explain that no one of that name lived, or had ever lived, at our address.  We bought the house as a new build and have lived here for over 50 years. I was told to check my credit rating with Experian. This I did and found no problems. I phoned Lowell again and was told to check the electoral roll, which I did and again found no problems. Lowell told me they get their information from public listings, but could not tell me which listings they got this incorrect information from. JT, Wales.

A. Lowell accepts that it made an error, has apologised and sent you a £50 cheque as a gesture of goodwill. A spokeswoman for Lowell says: “Information provided by a credit reference agency led us to believe that our customer lived at [the reader’s] address. Following contact by [the reader’s husband], who confirmed that this was not the case, we updated our files and this should have been the end of the story. Unfortunately an error by one of our team resulted in a further letter being sent in June to the [the reader’s] address. Additional training has been provided and a letter of apology is on its way.”

Lowell says it contacted you on the basis of information supplied by Experian.  A spokesman for Experian says there is no link shown on its records between the person who owes money to O2 with you and your husband.  “So if there were financial information recorded at your address in her name it would not impact your credit rating – it would be invisible to lenders assessing any application you made,” he says. “Secondly, there is actually no financial information registered at your address in this woman’s name either.”  However, two organisations have looked for the debtor at your address in the past.  Experian is now contacting those organisations to determine if this information can now be deleted.  The spokesman adds: “While the information could not impact your credit rating, its existence might be seen by any other firm looking for the same person as evidence of a link to your address, so I think it is important that we query the data’s accuracy.”

Q. My family and I went on holiday to Menorca in August.  We flew by and booked a car for the family at the same time as booking our flights.  With four of us travelling I needed to make sure that whatever car we booked would have capacity to carry four people and four suitcases.  Cars were grouped into different classes by size and luggage capacity.  The website gave examples of the type of car you would get, but not promising the exact model.  The classes of car were ‘Economy’, shown as suitable for two suitcases; ‘Compact’, suitable for three cases; and ‘Intermediate’, for four cases.  I paid for an Intermediate group car, the example being a Seat Toledo.  In the end we took just three suitcases.  When we arrived we were given a Volvo V40. This is a lovely car, but only a small family hatchback that would only take two suitcases.  We had to place a third suitcase on the backseat, squashed between my two daughters.  This was not ideal and not safe.  If we had taken four suitcases, the situation would have been impossible.  The hire car company said it didn’t have the type of car I booked and said this was the best they could do.  I contacted afterwards to complain.  We booked a car with 500 litres of boot space and received one with 330 litres of boot space.  Eventually I received an email from a hire car brokerage company saying we had the type of car we booked so we were not entitled to a refund.  MB, by email.

A. We contacted, which has arranged for the car hire brokerage company to provide a refund of £72.11, representing the difference in cost between the car you booked and the one provided. apologises for your inconvenience.

Q. I had a monthly contract with O2 for a mobile that we never used. I cancelled it in October as it was just well outside the minimum time and changed to a PAYG account.  O2 in error took £93.99 from my account in October, which they thought was due as an early cancellation charge. I contacted O2, which accepted the charge was a mistake and promised a refund within ten days.  I have not received this.  O2 says it paid £104.06 into my account on 11 November, but it is not showing on my account. KY, by email.

A. Apparently the payment was shown on O2’s system as having been refunded, but the payment was not actually processed.  A spokesman for O2 apologises and adds:  “As a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience caused, we’ve added a further £50 to the monies owed.”  You have now received a payment of £154.06.

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