Questions of Cash: January 2015

Q. I am in dispute with Thomson’s regarding a holiday I booked. I have a school age daughter and another child due imminently.  As we will have a child under one on our next family holiday, my boyfriend and I decided to stay in one of the First Choice ‘holiday villages’, which friends had recommended for a family with babies. At the Thomson shop I was offered a holiday for more than £5,500, which is out of our budget. While out shopping I checked on the First Choice website – and the Tenerife holiday village came up at £3,332.50. I tried to book there and then, but my internet connection in the shopping centre was so poor that it wouldn’t work.  I went back to the shop, spoke to a different assistant and told her that I had found a holiday within my budget online.  She explained that the shop would match the online price, except for a £30 ‘price-matching fee’ to which I agreed. I then went home and visited the First Choice website again to look at the hotels facilities, resort and excursions, etc.  When I searched for holiday villages, a resort in Egypt came up too for the exact same dates.  This was a bigger resort with better facilities, so I called the shop and asked if there would be a charge to change resorts.  The assistant said that as it was only thirty minutes since I had booked they would be able to do this without a charge.  The web price per person was £1,100. Then next day I received a telephone call from the shop confirming the holiday had been changed. When I received the revised booking confirmation I was shocked to see that I had been charged £1,517 per adult.  This was £417 per adult more expensive than the web price. I am now being charged a total of £3,623.50, but it should be £1,100 for two adults, one child at £552, £35 for one infant and £30 for the web price match fee – a total of £2,787. I am being charged £834 extra that I do not feel I should be forced to pay. TC, Bracknell.

A. Thomson says there has been a misunderstanding and you will be charged just £84 more than the price you agreed initially in the shop. We asked you to confirm that you are happy with this outcome, but you have not responded – understandably given that you are now due to give birth.

Q. I am a member of CSMA, which offers discounts on financial products.  I received a letter saying that my buildings and content insurance with LV= was up for renewal at a premium of £276 and that I did not need to do anything to renew the policy.  At the bottom of the letter it said there were new products available, one of which cost £129.  When I complained I was told I was on an old product and that I had to request a transfer to a new product. The ‘new’ product seems the same as the ‘old’ product to me.  I am angry about the CSMA which is a membership organisation making great play about good value deals for members.  JO, Essex.

A. A spokeswoman for LV= says:  “We regularly update the cover available on all of our products. When we write to our customers at their renewal we ask them to call us so we can see if any of our new products might be better suited to their needs.  After [the reader] received his home insurance renewal invite he called us to discuss his cover and we offered him a quote for a new policy. The premium quoted on the new policy was cheaper than the renewal premium he had received on his existing policy as the cover included is different. For example, the new policy offers [the reader] up to £50,000 worth of contents insurance cover, whereas his old policy offered up to £125,000 worth of contents cover.”  A spokeswoman for CSMA says: “All CSMA Club approved partners are carefully selected based on a strict set of guidelines. These include the partner’s ability to offer excellent terms and value for money to CSMA members, which ensures our members can access genuinely discounted financial deals. We have a range of measures in place to ensure partners provide fairness and quality to our members, including only selecting leading firms who are suitably regulated and monitoring their performance on an ongoing basis.”

Q. I approached EE in October as I was interested in subscribing to their home broadband and mobile phone service. But the company insisted I needed an engineer to visit to check if I had a line before connection could be set-up, despite me telling them that I had a line. I waited in a whole day, but the engineer did not show up. EE then informed me that a connection would have to be delayed for another month. Apparently, if an engineer fails to show up you are put back another month. This is strange and frustrating as I would to have to wait a month to go online and in the mean time be without phone or internet access. So I immediately cancelled the order. A month later I found that £138 has been taken from my account by ‘Orange Home’. I went to my bank to cancel the direct debit, which refunded my money. After this, EE sent me numerous emails requesting payment. I had cancelled due to EE being unable to provide the service, yet they took money from my account and demanded payment. This is despite EE being fully aware that no service was ever provided. VB, London.

A. A spokeswoman for EE says: “We have apologised to [the reader] after an administrative issue meant that her broadband installation was delayed. As requested, we have closed her account in full.” EE adds that it will not make further requests for any payment.

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