Questions of Cash: January 2014

Q.  I set-up a standing order in May 2001 from my Nationwide account to Carphone Warehouse.  Payments were made until last April, a total of £1,296.05.  These payments were made in error and were for a service never provided by Carphone Warehouse.  I only cancelled the service in April when Nationwide warned me about it.  I have written to Carphone Warehouse, but not had a reply.  I complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which said the problem is not in its scope to deal with.  I contacted the phone regulator, Ofcom, which also said it was outside its competence.  Can you help?  AS, Cheshire.


A.  You wrote to us in October last year and we have since been engaged in persistent correspondence to resolve the matter, with problems exacerbated by a letter being lost in the post.  We are happy that we were eventually able to provide Carphone Warehouse with sufficient evidence to prove that your account of what happened was correct.  A spokeswoman for Carphone Warehouse says: “We have investigated this matter thoroughly and we can confirm that the customer’s cancellation was not processed, due to a discrepancy regarding the reference number for the insurance policy. We have apologised for the inconvenience caused and have immediately refunded the full £1,310.75 of additional payments taken after the error. The customer confirmed that she was happy with this resolution.”  This seems to be an understatement – you sent us a late Christmas card indicating that, in fact, you are delighted.


Q.  I would like your help to recover my unpaid salary.  I was hired by Minstrel Recruitment Limited (MRL) in May 2012 to work for Keller Getec on the Crossrail project.  I undertook the assignment as a director of my own limited company.  I have submitted all my invoices, but payments arrived late.  I am now owed several hundred pounds.  I have sent payment demands by recorded delivery and I am asking for your help, as my only alternative is to take legal action.  AA, London.


A.  Keller tells us that payment in full for the relevant work was paid to MRL and that it has no responsibility for any alleged non-payment of money due to you.  MRL responds to your complaint by making a number of counter-allegations.  According to MRL, initial late payments were the result of you failing to submit some invoices and making incorrect calculations of money due on other invoices.  A subsequent late payment, it says, was because of your failure to respond promptly to requests for further information.  MRL says that in October your contract was terminated and that you were paid above and beyond what you were legally due.  Since then, you tell us that you did receive an additional payment, apparently in response to our enquiries.  We asked MRL to comment on this, but it failed to respond.


Q.  My father is 87 and in failing health. Until a couple of years ago he played online backgammon through the Play 65 website, but as his eyesight has deteriorated he is no longer able to play. He believes he has a small credit in his account – £30 or so.  He cannot remember his password to access his account. I have tried to contact Play65 by email on four occasions, both from my own email address  and from my father’s, but I have not had any response.  I cannot find a phone number for them.  Can you help?  LB, by email.


A.  We had the same problems trying to communicate with Play 65 – we did not receive replies to our emails and we could not locate an address or phone number.  We then asked how your father credited his Play 65 account and you advised us that he paid using his Barclaycard.  We approached Barclaycard, enquiring whether it could assist.  Barclaycard says it is now too long since your father made the transfer to Play 65 to recover the funds under its merchant chargeback rules.  However, as a gesture of goodwill Barclaycard is crediting your father’s account with the £30 he believes was held in the account.  You tell us that both you and your father are very happy with this outcome.





Q.   I booked a family holiday with Olympic Holidays in September 2012 for a self catering apartment in Crete for August 2013. I had hoped that an early booking would give me a discount.  Instead, while I was on holiday I was told by other holidaymakers that I had been charged more by telling the truth that two of my children are under 12.  I was never told the age of my children had a bearing on the price – a total of £3,566.  I then looked at the invoice and found that I had been charged an extra £420.74 for the children being under 12.  I have complained to Olympic Holidays, without success.  I have since found out that other travel agencies have dropped these ‘under occupancy’ charges, apologised to holidaymakers and refunded their money. FR, Derbyshire.


A.  Olympic Holidays denies that you were overcharged, but accepts that its invoicing has been confusing and misleading.  The agency says that what it calls a “legacy” IT system has made it impossible for the company to produce transparent and informative invoices.  The agency’s director, David Wilson, says he has had the charges recalculated as if all your party were adults and the result was less than £5 different.  He explains: “I think [the reader] has been misled by misguided comments [by other holidaymakers], although I agree the pricing as shown on her confirmation email was not as clear as it might have been and does give the wrong impression. As I said it is a legacy [IT] system that is unable to show pricing in the particular circumstances applying to [the reader’s] holiday in the correct way. We will be moving to an improved booking platform over the next couple of years.  As a side issue, [the reader] is incorrect when she says that our competitors have abandoned under-occupancy charges.”


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