Questions of Cash: July 2016

Q. We went on holiday to Cornwall at the end of May, but we had serious problems.  We booked a cottage through Holiday Cottages. When we arrived we found that the promised wifi, one of the reasons we booked the accommodation, was not working, neither was the fridge.  The owner telephoned us on the first day of our holiday to say that the bedroom lamp had been left on – it was on when we arrived – and this had caused the bulb to burn out, which had caused a smell of electrical or chemical smoke.  The owner then asked Holiday Cottages to call us the following day to tell us that there had been a fire in the room caused by material left on the light and that she wanted us to leave immediately, citing that we had been negligent for leaving the lamp on.  We noticed a small scorch mark on the bedside cabinet, about a five centimetre circle outline, but other than this and the smell of smoke there did not appear to be any damage.  The owner did not mention anything about any material being left on the lamp when she called me the previous day.  She evicted us halfway through our holiday and refused to refund us any of our money.  Our three children were sobbing their heart out when we left, because their holiday had finished early.  We asked Holiday Cottages for compensation: they have been in touch with the owner and informed us that the owner is still unwilling to refund any of our payment.  Do you think we have any grounds for some compensation?  MR, Somerset.

A. Holiday Cottages has now agreed to provide you with a full refund.  A spokeswoman explained: “Our highly trained team have followed our protocol on this complaint and have continued to support and work with both sides to find the right compromise. On this unfortunate occasion, due to the disruption to their holiday, we have taken the step of offering the holidaymaker a full refund as a goodwill gesture and will continue to work with this property to ensure that any problems are addressed for future guests.”

Q. I have had a Vodafone sim-only account for one year which is about to expire, so I applied for a new deal that I found online with  But both my wife and I were rejected, leaving me to look again at a contract with Vodafone – which is a lot more expensive.  We have a very good credit score and no outstanding debts.  DM, Sussex.

A. We took this up initially with, which is part of the Dixons and CarphoneWarehouse group. It said that the offered deal was via Vodafone and it had been Vodafone that had rejected your application. It did not know the reason for the refusal.  We then contacted Vodafone – which apologised and is now offering you an alternative package.

Q. I saw the complaint (Questions of Cash, 25 June 2016) from JT in Wales about the billing mistakes by Sky.  We live in an area where there is no terrestrial signal and so subscribed to Sky in 2000.  We were initially happy with the service, but gradually the quality and choice has diminished, especially with arts programmes, while subscription costs have gone up and up.  We have now cancelled and find there are alternatives that are cheaper, including Netflix.  Readers should know there is life after Sky.  LW, Dover.

A. Sky sent us a very long response to your complaint, arguing that it provides high quality entertainment, sports and arts output.  A spokeswoman added: “We are always investing to keep Sky the best value entertainment choice. Customers can enjoy exclusive access to Sky Atlantic with the best shows from HBO and Showtime, alongside critically acclaimed Sky original productions, and more of the biggest and best movies closer to cinema release than any other subscription service. We also offer the UK’s biggest catch up TV service, as well enabling customers to watch TV when they’re on the move through Sky Go, and a new Sky Sports channel will give all TV customers a selection of live sporting action – all at no extra cost.”  But it is certainly correct that consumers have a wide choice in television services now, much of it provided through the internet.  It makes sense for consumers to consider whether their existing arrangements offer the best possible value.

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