Questions of Cash: June 2015

Q.  I bought a care plan from Curry’s 13 years ago for a washer/dryer.  I have never called out the service.  In April this year the machine went wrong and I phoned the service plan people to see whether I could get vouchers in the event of the machine being a write-off.  I had already ordered a replacement from elsewhere, so I did not want a new machine.  I was assured that would be the case but, obviously, an engineer would need to inspect the machine. An engineer called and marked his job sheet ‘BER’, that is ‘beyond economic repair’.  After that I spent several hours on the phone being passed from person to person who all denied any responsibility. Apparently the job sheet was impossible to locate.  RH, by email.

A. The difficulty stemmed from the engineer not actually inspecting the machine.  While he told you that he accepted that the machine was beyond economic repair, and wrote that on his job sheet, he apparently also wrote on the job sheet that he had not inspected the machine to confirm this.  On that basis, Curry’s did not approve the issuing of vouchers to the value of a replacement machine.  Curry’s insist that they have acted correctly and that the engineer must inspect the machine for vouchers to be issued.  What is more, the machine has since been scrapped, making it impossible to confirm that the machine is irrepa  However, as a gesture of goodwill Curry’s has agreed to issue with vouchers for £429.95, which Curry’s believes would purchase you an equivalent machine.  A spokesman for Curry’s says: “Unfortunately, our engineer was not allowed to inspect the unit to verify its condition. In turn, we were unable to determine a repair, replacement or refund as appropriate resolution. However, as a goodwill gesture, we will send [the reader] vouchers up to the value of his original appliance, £429.95.”

Q. I parked my car at Newbury train station and paid for this at the ticket office.  As I also needed to park the following day, I asked if I could buy a ticket for the next day, too.  I was told I could, so I did.  The next day, all the spaces were full so I had to use the local multi-storey.  When I complained, the ticket office suggested I fill in a card and send it to First Great Western.  Its customer services then sent me a voucher valid for a year and not a refund.  I think that if one pays for a service that can’t be provided, one is entitled to the money back, not a voucher.  It is only £6.40, but that is not the point.  On principle I am entitled to a refund.  I rarely travel by train and when I do I buy a ticket online, so the voucher is not convenient.  IG, Newbury.

A. Neither we nor First Group’s press office can understand why you have been given a voucher rather than a refund.  We have provided you with the details of a contact at First Group who will send you a refund.

Q. I am writing on behalf of my daughter, who has lost three quarters of her pension pot after she left her job with Marks & Spencer’s to take employment elsewhere.  Legal & General wrote to her in October last year acknowledging her request to transfer the pension and including the relevant  She completed these forms and sent them to her new employer’s pension provider, as requested by Legal & General.  In December, Legal & General said that my daughter had not contacted them to request the transfer, despite previously acknowledging that she had done so.  She was on holiday at the time, so was unable to respond immediately.  In January, Legal & General sent her a refund cheque of £1,562, less tax, when the transfer value of the pension pot was £5,705.  In April, Legal & General said it was not possible to reinstate the policy or transfer the £5,705 to another provider.   The refund came through just five days before my daughter’s two year short service refund cut-off point, which would have prevented the refund being made.  This refund practice is, I believe, due to be outlawed from October 2015 because it can encourage young people to take the cash. My daughter never intended to take the cash and Legal & General knew that.  She always wanted to transfer her pension pot to her new company’s pension fund.  She did everything that Legal & General asked her to do to facilitate the transfer and within the time limit. The forms were filled in and, as requested by Legal & General, returned to the new pension provider. What they did with them is impossible for my daughter to know. But if for whatever reason there was a breakdown in communication it was not of my daughter’s making. This should have been a straightforward transfer from one pension fund to another.   My daughter’s financial welfare has been blatantly disregarded.  RN, Surrey.

A.  We raised this with Legal & General.  Its spokesman says: “The [Legal & General’s] Dispute Resolution Committee looked at the case, and have decided not to reinstate the policy.  A letter to that effect should have just gone out to [the reader’s daughter], informing her of that fact, and setting out the reasons. If [the reader’s daughter] wants to appeal the decision, she can do so by contacting the Scheme’s Trustees.  This has to be done in writing, and within six months of her receiving the above mentioned letter.”  We asked for the situation to be reconsidered, but we then received the further reply that “I’m afraid we have gone through our complaints procedure, and the next avenue open to [the reader’s daughter] is to raise her case with the Scheme’s Trustees.”  We suggest you do this – and that if you do not receive a positive response you then take the matter up with the Pensions Ombudsman Service.

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