Questions of Cash: November 2014

Q. I visited Ikea’s Belfast store a month ago and chose a bedframe that was too large to fit in my car. I spoke to two assistants and arranged that Ikea would phone me two days later to process an order, with delivery to my address in Derry. However, I did not receive a phone call.

When I emailed Ikea about this problem, I received a response from the Belfast store confirming that staff recalled the conversation and promising that I would be called to arrange payment and delivery. Again I heard nothing. I then emailed again and got no reply. PG, Derry.

A. Ikea apologises. As a goodwill gesture it has reduced the payment from the advertised £260 to £200 and waived the delivery charge, which would be a minimum of £35. The bedframe has now been delivered to your home. Gerard Bos, Ikea’s UK and Ireland customer relations manager, said: “As we do not currently offer online shopping in Northern Ireland, all home deliveries are organised at the Belfast store when customers visit, with store delivery available across all Northern Ireland postcodes. Due to an internal error, [the reader’s] payment was not processed properly and the order was not finalised after his visit to the store.”

Q. My insurer, Direct Line, wishes to settle a car accident claim with liability split 50/50. I do not accept this as the accident was not my fault.

At the time of the accident the other driver immediately acknowledged it was her fault and kept insisting she wanted to pay for the damage. She volunteered to write a statement taking “full responsibility for the damage caused”.

Direct Line has given two reasons for its decision. The other driver’s handwritten statement at the time of the accident cannot be used as evidence as she now denies it. But this is in her own handwriting, her insurer, Allianz, is not disputing that she wrote it and I sent the statement to Direct Line.

The other driver now alleges I was at fault although I think she was on her mobile phone – this was never pursued by Direct Line. She offered at the time to pay me cash for the repairs, but as I did not know the cost, I said that instead we should swap insurance details. I feel that she has committed a fraud, yet Direct Line seems unwilling to pursue this.

The Financial Ombudsman Service reviewed my case and decided not to uphold my complaint, because: “There is no independent evidence. The third party admitted liability and later withdrew this admission. There may be a number of reasons why this can happen and this is not of itself treated by a court as proof of guilt.” VP, Manchester.

A. The ombudsman is correct, and it seems the other driver has got away with it. Direct Line said: “We have investigated [the reader’s] concerns. Unfortunately, while the third party initially admitted liability, it was retracted at a later date. Without any independent witnesses or other evidence available, we were unable to prove liability or take legal action to decide who was at fault. [The reader’s] case has also been reviewed by the Financial Ombudsman and they agreed with our decision to share liability.”

However, given the circumstances and as a goodwill gesture, Direct Line is not imposing the £150 excess specified in your policy. Your experience is a warning not to rely on an apparent admission of responsibility; statements from witnesses, or at least their contact details, should also be obtained if possible.

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