Questions of Cash: September 2014

Q. I bought a 2011 Fiat 500 on 1 March for £7,995 from Fleet Car Sales in Hampshire. Four weeks ago I was driving home and an engine mount fell out. Fiat head office investigated and informed me the car had been in an accident last year, written off and sold to salvage.

The HPI check (into the vehicle’s history) came back clear because the car was a company car and was dealt with internally. It should not have been put back on the road after being sold to salvage. The “full service history” the car was sold with is false and there had been no service or maintenance on the car since its registered date in 2011. EB, Hampshire.

A. We raised this with Fleet Car Sales. Its sales manager Sam Wyatt responded: “We sympathise completely with the problem [the reader] has had with the car … The car has been confirmed to be fully HPI clear by HPI themselves, as there has never been an insurance claim against it to deem it a ‘write-off’ … We carried out a service upon the sale of the car to [the reader] some six months ago, as well as the car having previous stamps from another source. We feel [the reader] has not been mis-sold the vehicle in any way, shape, or form and we would like to stress we are trying our hardest to help out, including repairing the car free of charge.”

Mr Wyatt added that the garage would provide a loan car, free of charge, while the car was repaired. After receiving this response we requested a copy of the letter from Fiat. This included the statement: “… it is of the professional opinion of our technical services department that this damage may not necessarily have been caused following the accident in 2013, however it could be as a result of poor repair/workmanship to that particular area.”

On the basis of this letter – and the fact that you were not advised on purchase of the accident history – we suggested to Fleet Car Sales that it should buy the vehicle back from you at its full purchase price of £7,995. Fleet Car instead agreed to buy the car back at £7,500. We are disappointed with this outcome, but you say: “They weren’t going to budge on that so I accepted it. Glad to have it all finished now.”

Taxing times with an online return

Q. I recently carried out my HMRC self-assessment online. My Excel spreadsheet calculation suggested I owed £1,211 in tax, made up of £974 for this year and £227 from a previous year. When I reached the ‘View your calculation’ stage it showed £1,437.51. When I phoned HMRC I was assured the calculation was correct and told to resubmit and phone again afterwards. When I phoned HMRC again I was told I owed £1,210. I asked him to report my difficulties, but he refused saying it was not his job. He said I could write in if it would make me feel better, but nobody would take any notice. BH, by email.

A. HMRC has now contacted you with a comprehensive explanation, which we understand was caused by you originally misunderstanding one of the questions. A spokesman for HMRC adds: “We apologise for the way this customer was treated.”

Flight cancelled: Who pays for my hotel?

Q. I was due to fly to Italy on 28 July, but British Airways cancelled the flight due to adverse weather. I eventually flew on 29 July and had to pay for a hotel room for the night. Am I due compensation from BA? DC, London.

A. Sadly, no. A spokesman for BA says: “The flight was cancelled due to severe weather in the London area – something that was beyond our control … Any costs incurred would have to be claimed via travel insurance.” You are entitled to compensation in certain circumstances under EU Regulation 261/2004, but it does not apply in cases of “meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight”.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we’ll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at:

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