Questions of Cash – June 2016

Q  I signed up to a Virgin Media service package because of a special offer made to emergency services workers by a department called Virgin Media Partners.  I received an email from them which offered a £100 shopping voucher; free broadband installation, normally costing £49.95; free service and repairs; ‘our fastest every WiFi hub’ and an 18 month contract.  I got everything installed as planned, although the phone line didn’t work for three months and I had to get an engineer to fix it. On installation the phone line had been plugged into the wrong socket. Now Virgin Media refuses to honour the £100 Amazon voucher. I have called three times and on each occasion I was told the package I signed-up for is not eligible for this voucher. I have mentioned on each occasion the email confirming my order and the £100 voucher, but Virgin Media is still refusing to honour this agreement.  JH, Watford.

A.  The offer you quote is not usually made by Virgin Media through its partner promotions – so this one seems to have slipped through its net.  However, given that the offer was clearly made, Virgin Media will honour this.  A spokeswoman says:  “We apologise to [the reader] for any confusion and are happy to honour the promise of vouchers”.

Q. I booked a flight with Thomas Cook for a holiday for my husband and myself.  Unfortunately my husband has had a stroke and is now in hospital.  I have tried repeatedly to contact Thomas Cook by phone and email to cancel the flight, without success.  I have given up.  It is so frustrating.  According to Thomas Cook’s terms and conditions, we should be entitled to a refund.  I wish Thomas Cook was more accessible. AH, Lisburn.

A. After we contacted Thomas Cook on your behalf it provided you with a full refund.  We hope your husband recovers soon.

Q. My partner and I purchased new kitchen units online a few months ago. They were delivered to our home and I paid for them in cash.  But my fitter said it was virtually impossible to install them as they were of such bad quality, unfinished, used different materials, with many parts of the units missing. I phoned the supplier immediately, but the person who answered the phone was rude and unhelpful, and would not entertain giving me a refund. As my kitchen had been dismantled I had to purchase new units straight away.  I have sent repeated letters and made many phone calls, but I have not had a refund and the units are still uncollected.  I had a really a bad fall against the kitchen units, whereby one of their units in my hallway fell on my leg, nearly shearing my shin to the bone, and I have spent weeks back and forth to hospitals and doctors.  I am a pensioner and my partner is elderly and disabled.  We have no idea what to do.  Our paperwork is headed Best Value Kitchens of Europe, but I believe they were also known as Kitchens Direct, among others, now based in Warrington. The order was placed in the first instance on the phone, followed by a visit where we quoted a price of £1238.  When the units were delivered the worktops were missing, so we paid £900 in cash, having already given the person who visited a cheque for £100. Apparently, they dealt in cash to keep costs and overheads down so their kitchen units were cheaper.  My first phone call to ask them to collect their goods and give a refund was within the 14 day cancellation period, which my local Trading Standards advice line told me was what I needed to do.  The website promises a 100 per cent money back guarantee if buyers are unhappy.  JW, Lancashire.

A. We have spent months trying to resolve this. Sadly, we have got nowhere.  Your correspondence to Kitchens Direct, sent by recorded delivery, was not delivered because the business had moved out without a redirection address.  Our phone calls have gone unanswered, as have our repeated emails, including those via the websites of both Best Value Kitchens of Europe and its Warrington outlet, Kitchens Direct.  You know yourselves that it was a mistake to pay by cash – if you had paid by credit card you would almost certainly have been able to obtain a refund.  Other readers are warned.


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