Q. I placed an order online last December with the Eco Green Store in Norwich for cleaning products to the value of £81.16, paying by credit card. The following day I received an email to say there had been a problem processing the payment, so I contacted the company by phone to make another payment with the same card. I received the goods two days later. When I received my next credit card statement at the beginning of January 2014, two payments for this amount had been taken from the account, both on the 5th December. I immediately contacted the Eco Green Store and asked for a refund. I was told this would be done if I sent them a copy of the statement showing the two payments, which I did. When the next statement arrived, there was still no refund. I phoned the Eco Store again – on an expensive premium rate number – and it was confirmed that a refund was owed to me, but because of the time delay the refund had to be carried out by cheque, which would be posted to me. After three weeks, I phoned again and was told the cheque had been sent by recorded delivery and should have arrived, but they would send me another cheque. Yet the refund has still not arrived! PT, West Yorkshire.
A. The Eco Store’s Wayne Crowe responds: “The person who dealt with this was new and it is his first ever job after joining us through an apprenticeship. We are a tiny business and we all work hard: we are made up of mostly youngsters who wouldn’t normally have a job.” Apparently, the business had just changed card payment processing banks at the time your refund request arrived, which was why the refund had to be made by cheque. A full refund has been sent, along with a goodwill gift of toiletries, which you tell us you are very happy with. The business has a live chat facility on its website that avoids using the premium rate number, but it admits that this is not always answered immediately.
Q. Somehow two sets of Air France flight tickets for us were booked by mistake. One was booked directly with Air France and the other was with fly.co.uk. I’ve been in touch with both to cancel one set of tickets. But Air France tells me it cannot cancel the tickets and the cancellation and refund I must come through fly.co.uk – who tell me they are unable to get through to Air France to cancel the tickets or provide me with a refund. AF, by email.
A. We emailed fly.co.uk, which did not respond. We noticed, however, several online complaints about this business. Air France was more helpful. It cancelled the duplicated tickets and issued the refund.
Q. You answered my question at the end of last year (Questions of Cash, 21 December, 2013) about the topping-up of National Insurance contributions to boost a state pension. The Government has now announced how this can be done and how much it will cost. I reach 65 in April next year, so I will miss out on the new higher state pension rate being introduced in April 2016. That is why I am interested in trying to increase my pension. But the new NI contributions are not very attractive to me. As a 65 year-old man in 2015, it will cost me £890 to earn an extra £1 a week in pension. I did the calculation on DWP’s website and found that to get the additional maximum of £25 a week I would have to pay in a lump sum of £22,250. No thanks. It doesn’t seem a very good deal to me. Even if I get to the age of 82 – the point at which the outlay will pay itself back – I think I’d rather keep any spare £22,000 I have lying about in 2015! SG, Hampshire.
A. Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at the adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, responds: “It is important to bear in mind that the state pension comes with inflation proofing. This is still a better deal than you’d get from any standard annuity – 5.8 per cent, inflation linked. It is a legitimate separate question as to whether you want to tie up your capital and to gamble on living long enough to benefit from it. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed income for the rest of your life, it’s not a bad deal.”
Q. I put in a claim to MBNA for mis-selling of PPI in relation to my former Abbey credit cards. I got some money back on this in 2012. It turns out that MBNA didn’t forward the claim for my second Abbey card at the same time and have only just done so, which is confirmed by their letter to me of 11 March this year. Can I claim any compensation for this foul-up? HA, Surrey.
A. A spokesman for MBNA says: “Upon review, it would appear that the customer made a PPI mis-sale allegation in August 2012; we sent a final response to him in September 2012 and paid out on the PPI complaint. However, as this was a previously acquired account – from Abbey – we did not send him a letter at the time to say we would forward the details to Santander; nor did we forward the details on. This was an error on our part and one we picked up during a recent review. We subsequently wrote to the customer to notify him about this, and to apologise. Separately, we’ve also arranged £50 to be sent to him as a gesture of goodwill.” MBNA tells us that it notified Santander – which bought the Abbey business – of the potential PPI mis-sale on the same date it wrote to you – 11 March this year. We have contacted Santander, which is attempting to contact you to investigate your mis-selling claim on the PPI sold on the original Abbey card.