Questions of Cash: March 2014

Q. I bought a Citroen last September from an approved dealer, which came with a Citroen warranty. A few days ago the car had to go into the dealer’s service centre because water was entering the back of the car. The boot was filling with water and the carpets were saturated. I requested a repair and made it clear to the dealer before the car went into the garage I should not be charged.

I believe under the Sale of Goods Act, the supplier of the car has to prove the fault was not present when I purchased the car. Indeed, when I bought it, the dealer refused to negotiate on price because of the comprehensive warranty that came with it. Yet when I collected the car I had to pay £84 for an investigation of the fault. I was told only the repair was covered by the warranty. I complained to Citroen and the dealer. Citroen says it was told by the dealer I am happy with the situation, while the dealer refused to repay the charge, merely offering a discount on future work. I have no wish to use them again! KC, by email.

A. Citroen apologises, saying: “The dealership made a genuine error by charging this customer the diagnosis fee. The dealership member of staff appears to have made the mistake because there are two extended warranties available: 1 Citroen Extended Warranty; 2 Citroen Select Approved Warranty. With the Citroen Extended Warranty, diagnosis is chargeable to the customer. However, with the Citroen Select Approved Warranty the diagnosis fee is not chargeable as it is included in the warranty cover. We can confirm [the reader] has a Citroen Select Approved Warranty and should not have been charged for the diagnosis work.” You have now been refunded £84. Also, as a gesture of goodwill, your car will be given a free service in the future.

Holiday deposit lost because ill health was not revealed

Q. Last September I booked a holiday with Swan Hellenic as a treat for my wife who is incurably ill. But when I told her, she said she did not feel well enough to go. She rang to cancel the holiday. When Swan Hellenic rang back, we were told it was impossible to refund the £777 deposit. Instead, we were offered a transfer of the deposit to another booking, but due to my wife’s health that is not possible. I wrote to complain, but was told the decision was in line with company policy.UN, by email.

A. Your wife felt too embarrassed by the situation to explain her ill health when making the phone cancellation. Instead she told the call centre she had been invited by her son to visit him in the United States. Now the situation has been fully explained to Swan Hellenic, it has repaid your deposit. A spokeswoman says: “After further discussions with [the reader and his wife] the situation has been positively resolved”.

A change of flight to new airport sent cost of holiday soaring

Q. Along with another family, we booked a two week holiday in Cuba with Thomas Cook. This was supposed to leave from Gatwick in April. We chose and booked this holiday a year in advance because it fitted our requirements and we had found it difficult to locate a holiday leaving from the London area to the area of Cuba we wished to visit. Last July, the lead passenger received a call from Thomas Cook telling her the flight from Gatwick was cancelled and the holiday was now leaving from Manchester. If we wanted to proceed it would cost us an extra £460. If we wanted to cancel then we could get a full refund. Cancellation was not practical as we had arranged time off work. We agreed to go ahead but said we would complain, which we were told was not possible until after the holiday. As well as the extra charge we have to pay extra for petrol, parking, hotel rooms in Manchester and more time off work. Thomas Cook has not apologised or offered compensation. KL, Essex.

A. Thomas Cook has apologised – but still rejects your request for compensation. A spokesman says: “In July 2013, Thomas Cook confirmed it would cease to operate flights from London Gatwick to Cuba from 10 March 2014. All customers with bookings for flights after this date were contacted at the earliest opportunity, and offered a cancellation with full reimbursement or the option to change their booking to an alternative holiday, with any difference in price reimbursed if the cost was lower, or incurred if the cost was higher. We would like to apologise to the [reader’s] party, as it is never our intention to disappoint our customers. When changes are made to our holiday offering, our priority is to ensure our customers are advised well in advance of their travel dates.” The spokesman adds according to its records it received no correspondence for nine months after the booking was confirmed.

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