Questions of Cash: October 2014

Q. I made two hire car bookings with Hertz. One was for a date in May and the other in September. There were some problems, but this was in part my fault as I confused the September destination Brive la Dordogne with Bergerac la Dordogne.  My initial inquires to Hertz led to a totally unsatisfactory response and a complaint to Hertz’s head of customer services, to which I have not had a reply.  When I phoned, I was given the correct address for complaints, but told I would have to wait four weeks for a response.  I have still not had a reply.  I picked up a car at Brive in May, prepaying £271.10 online.  When I picked-up the car, the Hertz representative told me to be absolutely sure not to fill up the car on return, or I would be charged twice for fuel.  As this is the opposite of the norm, I got him to repeat this and he confirmed that I should return the car as empty as possible. When I returned it one quarter full another man said I should have filled it up and that I would be charged for three quarters of a tank of fuel.  The invoice from Hertz showed the base charge as €273.38 (about £215), which was much more than the amount I had paid online.  There was a further charge of €151.82 (£120), including €93.58 (£74) for fuel and service.  My account was charged with an extra £151.82, which was much more than the euro equivalent.  Hertz has used a euro for pound exchange rate, which is not acceptable.  With the booking in September, I paid £157.02 online but had to cancel and rebook for the correct airport.  For this I paid £151.82 and received a credit on the original booking of £120.02, even though I was promised I would not be penalised for my mistake as the Hertz operative said it should have picked up that the flight number I quoted went to Bergerac not Brive.  GK, by email.

A. Hertz apologises. Its spokeswoman says: “We have made the management team for the location involved aware of this matter. According to our fuel policy, the vehicle, provided with a full tank, should be returned with a full tank, otherwise the appropriate refuelling and service charge apply. Whilst the refuelling charge in this case was correct, as a result of the misinformation a full refund of the refuelling service charge has been ordered.”   You were not originally credited with the full refund for the mistaken booking for Bergerac as the cancellation was made outside the seven days in which no cancellation fee is charged. As you were promised that no cancellation fee would be charged, you will be refunded with the balance. In addition, you will be refunded with €71.13 (£56) that was overcharged because there wrong currency exchange rate was used.  By our calculation about £160 will be refunded.

Q. In July I received a formal demand from the debt collectors Buchanan Clark & Wells on behalf of EE for £128.96 – though the debt balance is shown as £13.86 and administration costs of £13.86.  I informed them that I do not recognise the debt and asked for details. The following week I received a letter from them informing me that full details of the debt will be forwarded to me by their clients. So far this has not happened.  I have now received another formal demand from Buchanan Clark & Wells on behalf of the same client EE for £90.22, this time comprising £81.46 principal and £8.76 for administration.  I am happy to ignore this garbage, but I do not want to have bailiffs at the door, nor do I want any blots on my credit history. AM, by email.

A. An error was made in sending payment demands to you, though we are unclear whether the mistake originated with EE or with Buchanan Clark & Wells. The debt does exist, but relates to an account opened by your son, not you. The account details have been corrected – and your son will now be pursued for repayment.

Q. I arranged for four SIM only, phone plus data contracts for myself and my brother with T-Mobile, which is now EE. Three of the contracts are now closed, one remains open. My contracts were to pay £5 a month fixed price for 12 months for 1 GB of data.  But the bills came in at £7.50 per month.  My brother and I have had considerable problems with T-Mobile, with lack of service access, the bandwidth was reduced after we started complaining and restrictions on the use of the data allowance. The contracts were worthless. But EE has been hassling us for repayment of the outstanding balance. We cancelled the contracts because EE breached the terms of the contract. I want a fully itemised statement on all the phone bills, plus a goodwill payment for the inconvenience they have caused us. HB, London.

A. EE is willing to cancel the outstanding debt, but says that you refuse to take its calls to say if you are prepared to accept the offer. You tell us that you require a goodwill payment from EE, but we remain unclear – despite requests – of exactly how you can justify the demand for a goodwill payment beyond writing-off the outstanding debt. Our understanding of the situation has been hampered by EE declining to tell us the outstanding balance on the account. It cites client confidentiality reasons, but we do not accept this as justification as you have given us approval to obtain the information on your behalf. We have requested EE to send you fully itemised statements on all four accounts, which we believe is entirely reasonable. But we suggest that you accept EE’s offer to write-off the balance as a goodwill gesture that puts an end to the matter. You should also check your credit reference to ensure that it is not subject to a negative entry relating to the dispute.

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