Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  In January I was stranded in Perth in Australia because Air Mauritius changed its itinerary without informing me.  I arrived at the airport to find my flight had departed the previous day.  I was four days late returning to work, lost pay and incurred costs totaling £730, but Air Mauritius will pay me only €600 (£500).  While in Perth I unsuccessfully tried to persuade Air Mauritius to send me home using another airline.  After ignoring my emails for a long time, Air Mauritius eventually offered me €600, saying: “As previously advised your settlement has been set out by the EC Regulations 261/2004 and will not be increased.”  But I believe Air Mauritius has a legal and moral duty to pay for my all extra costs incurred because of the schedule change, so I have refused its offer.  RD, by email.


A.  Your claim has now been reviewed by the Air Mauritius regional manager for the UK, Anthony Cowles.  Having done so I agree that we should reimburse [the reader’s] claim in full,” he says.  He apologises for the problems and is processing a refund of £780 – which includes additional costs incurred by you that you had not included in your claim to the airline.


Q.  I cancelled my AOL account and a very rude employee informed me that even though I had just paid for another full month’s usage, cancelling meant I lost all of my rights to the month I had paid for.  He said I couldn’t expect to get what I had paid for if I had cancelled it.  JP, Kettering.


A.  The AOL UK broadband service was purchased by CarphoneWarehouse in 2006.  The service is now part of the TalkTalk operation that demerged from CarphoneWarehouse.  A representative of AOL Broadband says: “we don’t issue refunds of payments taken prior to cancellation.  However, given the behaviour of the AOL cancellations agent, which is noted in the complaint, I have agreed to refund the monthly charge in question.”  As we have previously indicated (see Questions of Cash, 24 July), we are concerned about the practice of CarphoneWarehouse and its associated companies in not automatically refunding customers with credit balances when accounts are closed.


Q. On a recent trip to Turkey, I was standing behind a friend using an ATM owned by the Garanti Bank.  Both his name and PIN number appeared on the screen.  I think your readers should be warned.  DO, by email.


A.  Your email has mystified everyone we spoke to.  A representative of Turkey’s Garanti Bank says: “The credit card PIN number is a confidential personal information that needs to be secured highly. All Garantibank ATMs show asterisk characters instead of real characters when the PIN number is written. There is no possibility that PIN numbers can be seen by anyone.”  The UK Payments Administration was also sceptical.  Its spokesman Mark Bowerman says:  “LINK has advised that under their rules displaying the cardholder name is banned, as is the PIN.  However, LINK just cover UK machines and they have no idea what might happen in Turkey.  We would be surprised if what your reader describes is actually happening, because of the fact that we can’t believe it wouldn’t have been brought to our attention long before now, and by many visitors to Turkey rather than just the one.  However, if it is happening we would suggest that UK cardholders do not use these machines and instead use ones that don’t display their name and PIN.”


Q. I attempted on 26 March to transfer funds from my Nationwide Flex account and an existing Nationwide fixed term ISA bond that matured on 25 March to a new fixed term ISA bond, which then offered a rate of 4.4 per cent.  Having still not heard anything, I visited my branch on 18 June.  I was advised to phone the Nationwide ISA office, which informed me that although a new bond had been opened, no funds had been transferred.   I was promised this would be dealt with as a matter of urgency.  Yet I have still not heard anything.  MD, Bexhill.

A.  We continue to receive many complaints about the slowness and poor administration associated with transferring ISA funds between accounts.  Several readers have complained about Nationwide.  In this instance, Nationwide accepts that it did not “process [the] request as quickly as we would have liked”.  It has agreed to open the account backdated to 26 March and apply the 4.40 per cent rate that was available on that date.  It apologises for the delay and will pay you an additional £50 as compensation.  It has also sent you the certificate of investment, for which you have been waiting.


Q.  In May last year I opened an ISA and a monthly savings account with Barclays Bank.  I am trying to close these accounts and transfer the monies to the Halifax.  I requested a BACS transfer, as this avoided a £30 administration fee for receiving cheques to close the accounts.  I completed the forms in June, but then received a letter from Barclays saying that the signature did not match their records.  A few days later I visited the Leeds branch with my ID, which was verified, and I was promised the instruction would be processed.  Nothing happened, until I again had a letter saying the signatures did not match.  I responded by writing to suggest that to speed things up the bank make the payment by cheque, but to waive the administration fee as a gesture of goodwill.  But again nothing has happened.  I have been unable to access £6,700 of my money and have lost a month’s higher rate of interest.  DM, Leeds.


A.  Barclays apologises and has now acted on your instruction to close the accounts and refund the balances to you.  It has sent you a luxury hamper as a gesture of goodwill.



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