Questions of Cash: November 2014

Q. We have had continual problems since July trying to get Scottish Power to correct our electricity bills. In the meantime Scottish Power has increased our monthly direct debit based on its error and keeps charging us twice as much as it should. We are on a Twin Heat tariff – similar to Economy 7 – with cheap electricity for three hours during the afternoon and four hours at night. I usually submit meter readings online and had a reminder at the beginning of July to provide current readings. When I went on the website, I noticed the previous ‘day’ readings were shown in the box for the ‘night’ readings and vice versa. I emailed Scottish Power directly with the correct readings. I received a reassuring reply, but when the bill arrived the readings were switched around and as a consequence our monthly direct debit almost doubled to £180. After I complained, Scottish Power repaid some of our payments and sent an amended bill, which was again incorrect. I complained again and was given a complaint number, but our complaint was not looked at for several weeks. In September I went to the next level in the complaints process. Eventually Scottish Power accepted the meter readings had been switched and our complaint was forwarded to another department. But the bills are still wrong. BH, Aberystwyth.

A. Scottish Power apologises and accepts your complaint was justified. A spokeswoman explains: “When we transferred [the reader] onto our new system her reads were transposed in error.  We have now updated [the reader’s] account and refunded her credit balance of £250.  In way of an apology we have issue a goodwill payment of £75.”

Q. I have repeatedly requested the closure of my energy supply account with Scottish Power, doing so within the specified period for changing contracted suppliers. I am frustrated that I cannot get Scottish Power to do this. KY, by email.

A. A spokeswoman for Scottish Power says: “We have contacted [the reader] and apologised for the delay and the inconvenience this matter has caused.  We have accepted the termination notice and [the reader] is satisfied the matter has now been resolved.

Q. We booked a holiday in February through Jet2holidays for four people in two rooms at Olu Deniz in Turkey for June this year. When selecting our hotel from the range available for our budget etc., we purposefully selected one that stated a mini bar was one of the room amenities.  On arrival at the hotel – at 2.30am – we found there were no mini bars/fridges in the rooms.  The hotel provided them without any trouble the next day, but there was a charge of £4 per day, per room.  For the remaining eight nights for two rooms, this came to a total of £ 64. I contacted Jet2holidays on our return to outline the issue and request a refund for the £64.  The response was that the listings were clear in showing that ‘some amenities at the hotel were payable locally’ as shown with an asterisk in the particular listing.  This is true and although there was now an asterisk against the ‘mini bar’ listing, when I booked the holiday in February 2014, there was only an asterisk against ‘air conditioning’ for our chosen hotel.  Jet2holidays responded: “you are correct to state the asterisk was added to the mini bar facility after your return home. Nevertheless, we are clear to state that some features may be payable locally regardless of the asterisk specifying the applicable amenities.” It added that it will make its listings clearer in future. So although it recognises that I could not have known there was a daily charge for the mini bar when making the booking and saying that it will make its listings clearer in future, it considers it has no duty or moral obligation to reimburse us.  AM, Leeds.

A. A spokeswoman for Jet2 says: “We apologise to [the reader] for not making this additional charge clear at the time she booked her holiday with us. We have now refunded her the £64.”

Q. My sister moved to Australia in 1987. While she was working in London, from 1973 to 1980, she had a workplace pension with Provident Mutual. But Provident Mutual does not exist any more. While the pension may be quite small, she would like to access it, but does not know how. Can you help us? JP, by email.

A. Aviva is the successor body that took over the former Provident Mutual business. As we were unable to obtain the specific approval of your sister to investigate the matter on her behalf, Aviva is not in a position to discuss the matter with us. But we understand that as a result of our initial inquiries Aviva traced the old policy through its Lost Policy Trace Team. This established that there was around £4,000 in her name. Your sister has decided to cash this in.

Q. I read in a recent Questions of Cash [20 September, 2014] a reference to an HPI Check for a
car purchase.  Can you explain what this is and how much it costs please?  AN, London.

A. HPI is a business, which is a subsidiary of automobile insurance information group Solera. It has been provided with stolen vehicle information by the police since 1947 and claims information from large insurers since the 1980s. HPI provides a check on the history of vehicles and says that one in three cars on the road has what it calls “a hidden history”. A spokeswoman for HPI explains: “When you provide the vehicle registration mark (VRM) and the vehicle identification number (VIN), HPI crosschecks the information with its databases. This confirms the identity of the vehicle and confirms whether a car has been written-off by an insurance company, had a plate change, has been stolen, clocked or is on outstanding finance.” An HPI Check costs £19.99.


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