Questions of Cash: May 2015

Q. I have a major issue with Avis in the United States.  My partner and I booked a one way hire from Whistler Mountain to Vancouver Airport, for 17 April.  We were catching a flight home from Vancouver on that date.  I have the original rental confirmation from Avis, which also had our airline confirmation of the flight details. The Avis office was short on cars for that day and asked if we could make the journey a round trip, but this was obviously impossible.  It is clear to us that the Avis office changed the rental agreement anyway, because this was then stapled behind the original confirmation.  My partner signed the rental agreement in a rush to get to the airport with our five month old son.  I don’t understand how the office thought we would be able to return the car since we were mid-way over the Atlantic when the car was supposedly due back.  The car was dropped-off at Vancouver airport on the afternoon of 17 April.  For some reason this wasn’t this logged in at Vancouver by Avis.  Avis has charged my credit card £687 for ‘late fees’ and has now rejected my appeal for a refund.  GH, by email.

A. This has been successfully resolved.  A spokeswoman for the company says: “Avis can confirm that after reviewing [the reader’s] case, a refund of £739.51 has been processed and will appear on the customer’s account in the next five to seven days. [The reader’s] comments have been discussed with the local management team to ensure the situation does not happen in future. Avis would like to apologise to [the reader] for any inconvenience this has caused.”

Q.  I have an issue with an eBay sale, but I am finding it very difficult to communicate with eBay.  I have purchased items on eBay for some time and recently sold my first item, a mobile phone.  The buyer complained the item was faulty, did not accept his SIM card and requested a refund. I suggested he try another SIM card as the phone worked perfectly on dispatch.  The next message from the buyer was to inform me he had posted the phone back to obtain a refund.  On receipt, the charger lead was missing, part of the box was ripped off and all the original internal packaging was missing. I replied that in the circumstances I could no longer offer a full refund as the item could no longer be described as unused. The buyer accused me of lying, falsely claiming he returned it in the same condition as received. This was one person’s word against another’s, but I could prove the phone was working.  I sent eBay photographs that contradicted the buyer’s claim. EBay said I could not appeal to them until 29 April.  But on that date, eBay automatically refunded the buyer and debited my Paypal In addition, it asked me to credit my Paypal account as it was about £10 short.  EBay said it had to automatically refund the buyer as he had sent the item back.  DS, by email.

A  EBay has refunded you in full.  A spokesman for eBay explains: “Thanks for bringing [the reader’s] case to our attention and giving us a chance to investigate. I’m pleased to report that we have refunded the money taken from [the reader’s] account and his postage costs, and cancelled the outstanding invoice, ensuring he will not be left out of pocket.  A review by our customer service team has concluded [the reader’s] buyer did not return the original item and therefore granted his appeal.  It is important to remember that as an online marketplace, we do not have physical possession of an item at any time, and so rely on the evidence presented to us to make fair decisions. Our ‘Money Back Guarantee’ covers around £35bn worth of purchases each year and, in the vast majority of cases, ensures that buyers can shop confidently, with knowledge that they will receive the item they purchased or their money back.”  EBay adds that the best way to correspond with the company directly is through its customer support web page, the address for which is

Q. I paid £34.86 through eBay for a phone handset, from a German company.  The phone was never delivered.  Tracking information shows that delivery was refused and returned to Germany, where the sellers were charged a fee of €11.90 – even though they were not to blame for the non-delivery. It is clear that ParcelForce attempted to deliver to the wrong address.  I contacted ParcelForce, which said that its contract was with the seller, not with me, and would only take action if the seller contacted them.  I asked the seller to do this, but, not unreasonably, they refused.  I appealed to eBay, who will not help since “the recipient refused acceptance of the shipment”.  Once again I contacted ParcelForce, which was sympathetic and stated that if the seller got their own courier to contact ParcelForce, thenParcelForce would meet all the costs of redelivery.  But the seller has also refused to do this, and has offered either to refund my expenses less €11.90, or re-send the item if I pay both the extra shipping costs plus the charge they have had to lay out.  So the seller has my phone and my money, and has had to pay a return fee.  I have paid £34.86 and have no phone.  I can only get it by paying more, or receive a reduced refund.  ParcelForce, whose mistake this is, and seems to have accepted responsibility, apparently does not need to do anything.  MW, Dorset.

A  ParcelForce has agreed to send you a cheque for £20, which should cover your additional costs, either through a refund or redelivery.

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