Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  On 5 May I was due to fly to Belfast from East Midlands Airport, with BMI Baby.  The flight was cancelled because of the Icelandic ash problem, so I used the ferry from Stranraer instead.  My wife phoned the airport car parking agency and told them I wished to cancel my booking.  East Midlands Airport gave me a letter to show my insurer to ask them to pay, but they refused.  The car park company still refuses to refund my £22.99.  AC, by email.


A.  East Midlands Airport waives charges for car parking incurred because of the volcanic ash problem and for booked parking not used for this reason.  It says that it was not previously aware that the reason for your cancellation was the effect of the volcanic ash.  If you re-apply for the refund specifying that the problem related to volcanic ash you will be given a full refund.


Q.  I took out a two year mobile broadband contract with Orange via the Carphone Warehouse in July 2008. The contract was for £25 per month for a laptop with a dongle.  If I had taken only the dongle the price would have halved, so I understood I was paying £12.50 a month for the laptop and £12.50 per month for the mobile internet.  All billing is direct from Orange.  Last autumn the laptop developed a fault – the battery would not charge – and Carphone Warehouse asked me to return it at my own expense to the manufacturer to be fixed.  The manufacturer said it was out of its six month warranty, so would cost £110 for repair.  I emailed Orange in November to say that as the laptop was faulty I would not pay the monthly fee until it was replaced under the Sale of Goods Act: the laptop should be fit for purpose for a reasonable amount of time after purchase.  As the contract was for two years, the laptop should be fault-free for two years. Orange’s email replies did not deal with my complaint, so I phoned them in December.  I understood that we agreed that I would cancel the direct debit and receive another invoice.  Instead I have received a letter saying I owe £82.02.  MS, Surrey.


A.  Orange told us that your contract is with the CarphoneWarehouse and that we must take this up with them.  CarphoneWarehouse says that as the fault has apparently developed outside the manufacturer’s warranty and the product was working when sold to you that neither it nor the laptop manufacturer has a duty to either replace or repair the laptop free of charge.  It adds: “[The reader] claims that as his contract with Orange lasts 24 months, the warranty of the product should also be 24 months. Unfortunately, no such connection exists.  However, we do understand [the reader’s] inconvenience of not having a working laptop on which to use his mobile internet dongle. Therefore, as a gesture of goodwill, we will credit [the reader] £82.02.  We would also like to encourage all readers to make sure they fully understand warranty terms and conditions when purchasing products and that at present no connection exists between the length of the contract and warranties.”


Q.  Demon Internet has passed a bill for £13.11 to a debt collecting agency, First Credit, and I am worried this will affect my credit rating.  Repeated emails to Demon are ignored.  Demon could not set-up its Dial Loyalty service for me, so I wrote to Demon in October saying I did not want the service.  I had already said this on the phone.  Monthly bills began arriving in December.  In February I spoke to an operative who assured me the account was closed.  But the credit agency says the account was passed to them on 1 March.  AM, by email.


A.  Demon now operates as part of Thus, which is owned by Cable & Wireless.  We also had difficulties in contacting anyone within Thus to deal with your problem, with the person who initially promised to investigate your problem disappearing.  Eventually we obtained a response from Thus.  It says it only received your request to cancel the Dial Loyalty account in February, which left a debt of £13.11 on your account.  After you discussed the problem with the company’s customer service representative a request to clear the balance as a gesture of goodwill was submitted, but this was rejected by its accounts department.  Thus says that the emails that you sent – copies of which we supplied – do not appear on the company’s records.  Thus accepts that its failure to respond to your numerous complaints and requests must be very frustrating.  The company’s ‘head of customer experience’, Lee Woolcott, says: “We admit that this should not have escalated as far as this and have put in place an improvement action to ensure this kind of incident does not happen again. My team have now cleared the balance and instructed First Credit to not contact the customer again.  I have also ensured that a member of my team has called the customer to personally apologise and will follow this up with an email apology.”

Q.  My partner and I moved house in February and paid Royal Mail for its Redirection Service to our new home, paying £34 for both our names, covering three months.  That redirection has consistently failed, with our former landlord allowing us to collect our mail.  The service worked fine for two weeks, but since then it has not operated consistently.  We have taken this up with Royal Mail, but it has declined to make a refund as it says I am changing my mind about wanting the service.  Instead it offered compensation of two books of postage stamps, which is nowhere near the £34 cost of the failed service.  ES, Sheffield. 


A.  Royal Mail accepts that your request was for a refund of a service that had not worked, rather than a claim for compensation.  It has written directly to you to apologise and has made a full refund.

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