Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  In May I booked an ‘all inclusive Turkey’ holiday for my wife and myself with Page and Moy, from the ‘2010 Holiday Sale’ brochure.  The holiday was almost identical to one offered in an earlier brochure from Travelsphere – a sister company – except that some optional excursions were included as standard in the Page and Moy offer. A few days later I began thinking there might be a mistake as including the extra visits in the holiday represented a considerable reduction in the price.  I made two calls to Page and Moy.  In the first I was told that there were no included excursions, despite me insisting there were.  I phoned again later that day and was told the excursions were included and the person I spoke to read the list out to me.   At the resort I found the tour guide knew nothing of any excursions being included.  I phoned Page and Moy, who said there had been a mistake in the brochure and the excursions were not included. As the excursions were the whole point of the holiday we decided to pay for them and recover the cost from Page and Moy on our return. But Page and Moy have told me that their records show I was advised that the excursions were chargeable. RE, Derby.

A. We contacted Page and Moy, who promised to investigate. However, they failed to provide a response to us – despite being prompted to do so. They have contacted you as a result of our intervention, offering to repay £220 – half the additional cost of the excursions. You say: “I think that is a fair offer under the circumstances and have accepted it; it was, after all, a genuine mistake on their part, they didn’t set out to deceive anyone.” This is a more generous view than we would have taken. It looks unlikely that you would have booked this holiday had you known of the extra costs and you had to pay extra to receive services you believed were included. We would have asked Page and Moy to fully refund the extra cost of the excursions.

Q. I booked a once in a lifetime holiday to Canada, to coincide with my son and his partner getting married in the Rockies. I booked with Expedia and we were due to fly on April 17, but the flight was cancelled because of the Icelandic volcanic ash. Despite repeated emails and attempted phone calls to Expedia – being kept on hold for over two hours and being charged for the calls – I have only received a refund of £419. The full refund should be £1,747.20, so I am still owed £1,328. SW, Newport.

A Expedia apologises. A spokeswoman says: “We have been working closely with the airlines to process refunds as quickly as possible, but due to the exceptional circumstances of the ash cloud situation, some refunds have taken considerably longer to process than would normally be the case.” The full refund has now been sent to you and Expedia has offered to provide an additional refund for the cost of your phone calls.

Q. I came to London five years ago to study with LTC College in London. In December last year, the BBC broadcast allegations about the college, which led the Home Office to suspend the college’s licence. I was therefore unable to continue studying with the college from April. I submitted a refund application form and the college agreed to refund £1,272 for the remaining period. I have still not received this. HS, London.

A When you originally contacted us in September we hit what seemed to be an impossible barrier. The LTC website was no longer functioning and the phone number rang unobtainable. We contacted Westminster City Council’s trading standards office to find out whether it was conducting any investigations, and learnt that it was not. We hoped that you might have paid either by credit card, or by Visa debit card, enabling us to trigger a chargeback request for the failure of the college to provide the full service paid for – but this was not possible as you had paid by cheque. We then left the problem for a few weeks. But when we tried the old phone number again, we found that it was now ringing through to Unity College in London. Unity College told us that Mr Darpan Shah “is liable for aspects of LTC”. The phone operator added that Mr Shah had ownership interests in both colleges and gave us a contact email address for Mr Shah. After an exchange of emails with Mr Shah, he promised us that a cheque would be raised and left for you to collect. Unfortunately it was no longer possible for you to collect the payment as by this time you had moved to Japan. But Mr Shah’s office then arranged for the payment to be made direct to you. The payment you received was for £846. You calculate this is £228 less than you are owed. You paid £2,545 for an 86 week course and were unable to attend the last 38 weeks, because the college was no longer open. The refund represents a payment for only 24 weeks. In addition, Mr Shah’s office has levied an administration fee of £150. Mr Shah states in an email that the contract specifies that refunds are only available in two circumstances: “one is your medical conditions, where you will not be able to continue course, second is your visa will be refuse under immigration act”. It seems to us bizarre that an administration fee is imposed when your course cannot be completed because the college itself has ceased trading. Further, we do not believe that Mr Shah can legally use this as a reason for withholding part of your fees. We have put these points to Mr Shah, who has not responded. You are now seeking to recover the balance of your fees through legal action.

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