‘Sky left me in the lurch’
Q. I have been a customer of Sky TV for several years. For the past two years I have received several letters asking me to join Sky’s “free” broadband service. However, I was not able to take up these offers as the Sky equipment had not been installed in my exchange. Earlier this year I contacted Sky’s call centre and was told that the equipment for this had been installed in my local exchange, but that to use this I needed to switch my phone line from Virgin Media to BT. I did this, signing a 12-month contract with BT.
When I then contacted Sky to request the broadband package I was told there was not enough capacity in my exchange and that the equipment had, in fact, not been installed. I only changed phone lines because of Sky’s offer and having signed-up for a year with BT I cannot now revert to Virgin Media. I was going to purchase the Sky Mid Broadband package at £5 a month. Sky has offered to supply me with its alternative Sky Connect service, for £10 per month. I believe that since my problem is Sky’s fault, it should supply this service at £5 per month, but it refuses. I am also unhappy with the way Sky has dealt with my complaint, which I have spent weeks trying to resolve. MS, by email.
A, Sky has now agreed to provide you with a discounted subscription to the Sky Broadband Connect service.
Q. In January, I bought a second-hand gearbox from Just Puntos in Bolton, online. When it was delivered, our garage advised it was broken. I returned it and requested a refund. Just Puntos said it did not provide refunds and offered a replacement. But I didn’t want a replacement as the garage was fitting the gearbox to our old car as a favour and would have charged if they had done it a second time. I asked trading standards for advice and they told me to write, requesting a refund – which I did, twice, by recorded delivery. Neither letter could be tracked using the Royal Mail system and they appeared to be lost. By then, Just Puntos had closed down and trading standards said it could therefore no longer be involved, but suggested I contact my credit card issuer, Nationwide. I filled in a dispute form and Nationwide rejected my application, without explanation. Where do I go from here? FD, Sheffield.
A. Unfortunately, the advice you were given by the trading standards officer you spoke to appears to have been inadequate. You should have immediately requested a “chargeback” from Nationwide when the goods were found to have been faulty. There is a 120-day period in which such rejections of transactions can take place and you were outside this period by the time you made your request. However, Nationwide accepts that it did not provide you with an adequate service when it rejected your application for a chargeback without explanation and failed to respond quickly to your subsequent inquiry. As compensation, it is refunding the full £111.93 you paid for the gearbox.
Q. I am a shareholder of National Grid and have not been paid dividends since 2005. I recently received a letter from Capita Tracing Solutions on behalf of National Grid pointing this out and requesting a fee for the dividends to be paid. Capita subsequently agreed to waive the fee and advised that a new share certificate had been sent, but this never arrived. I have now been asked to pay £66.20 for a replacement certificate, which I believe is unfair as it was apparently lost in the post. GW, Hampshire.
A. National Grid says it is the responsibility of shareholders to check that they have received dividend cheques and to contact the company’s registrars if these do not arrive. In your case, your address was wrongly entered on the company’s register, so Capita’s “finder’s fee” for tracing you and the charge for the replacement share certificate have therefore been waived.
Q. Eight years ago my husband and I paid £145,000 for a house now valued at £325,000. The house has been rented out since purchase. We want to gift the house to our daughter. What are the tax implications? Can any Capital Gains Tax liability be deferred? Do we need to notify HM Revenue & Customs of the gift? When is it best to make the gift, in terms of reducing the tax liability? Are there any tax reliefs that would mitigate the tax we would be liable for? CW, Cambridgeshire.
A. David Young, chairman of the tax panel at the UK200 Group of accountants, says: “There are no tax exemptions for this gift. If the house has never been the main residence of the owners, the normal exemption for a home will not apply. CGT would be payable on the market value of the property, charged at 18 per cent: creating a liability of just under £29,000. The gain must be included in the mother and father’s tax returns for the year. If the gift is made now the tax will be due no later than 31 January 2010. As a gift, there would be no Stamp Duty Land Tax payable and no immediate charge to Inheritance Tax. The gift would be a potentially exempt transfer for Inheritance Tax purposes, with no tax if the current owners survive seven years and removing the property from the parents’ estates, reducing future tax payable. The daughter would acquire the property at £325,000 for tax purposes and if she lives in the house herself throughout her ownership any future gain would be exempt.
The only way to avoid the capital gain now would be to gift the property to a trust with the daughter as a beneficiary – there is CGT relief for gifts to a trust. But this gift is immediately chargeable to IHT – though if mother and father make no other transfers it would be within their nil rate bands of £312,000 each, so no IHT would be payable. This would be effective if your daughter intends to keep the property as an investment, but if she lives in it herself, the trust would be denied main residence exemption on a future sale.” You should also get the house revalued in the light of recent general decline in property value.