Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q. I've paid into an Aviva Permanent Health Insurance policy for 20 years. I've just found out that I would have been ineligible for any benefits had I made a claim. I am a teacher and under the conditions of service I would go onto half pay after six months’ illness. Unknown to me, my policy would have knocked this sum off any benefit I would have got from Aviva. My premiums did not take this into account. I have asked Aviva to reimburse the overpaid premiums, but it has refused. MB, by email.

A You paid a total £4,025 into the policy since you opened it in 1990. Although you say that you were ineligible for any benefits, this is untrue: you would have received most of the benefits you signed-up for. Aviva has now gone back through the 21 years of the records of your contributions, calculating the premiums that you should have paid for the benefits that you were entitled to draw. On this basis, you overpaid by £1,065. This amount will be refunded to you, less any premiums due at the time of the payment.

Q. In 2009 my friend booked flights from Belfast to Liverpool to attend an Everton match in May last year. After the game, we went to Liverpool Airport to be told that the flight was cancelled because of problems with Icelandic ash cloud. We were rebooked for the following day, on the first available flight, and travelled home that day. We then booked a room in the Hilton Hotel across the road, which easyJet staff promised would be covered by the airline. But easyJet has refused to cover the cost of the room, £91.45, on the basis that it wrongly claims that the room was pre-booked. I feel as if I have been accused of fraud. JM, Belfast.

A You referred this matter to us in October and we subsequently made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain an answer from easyJet. We have only now had a response explaining that it made a full repayment to you in October, soon after we referred the matter to the airline. You have now confirmed that this is correct. EasyJet apologises for “the extended processing time” in making the payment.

Q. Last November I phoned Which? to request the free Which? guide to digital television – which turned out to be well out of date – and I was persuaded to take three issues of the magazine for £3. After the third issue was delivered, on 1 February, I phoned Which? and cancelled my subscription via their auto-cancellation service. Later my credit card statement showed Which? had taken £9.75 on February 3 for the next issue. I phoned to complain, but to no avail. I had been told that I could cancel at any time, but the letter from Which? said that the £9.75 would be taken from my card on February 1 and it couldn’t refund my £9.75. Although it has taken my dosh for the next month, the auto cancellation appears to block my access to its web pages. You don’t expect an organisation championing consumer rights to act in this way. CD, Bristol.

A Which? has listened to the initial conversation between you and its customer services centre. This record shows that you were told that you would need to cancel by 31 January to prevent the first payment being taken on 1 February. Lesley Maslen, head of customer service at Which?, says: “Unfortunately, [the reader] cancelled his subscription late, when the payment for the following month was already being processed.  We recognise this was an honest mistake and are refunding his money.  We’re also revising the text in our confirmation letter to ensure there is absolutely no room for confusion for new members in future.”

Q. I booked online at Radisson for a hotel room at Dublin airport for my partner when his flight was badly delayed. I accidentally pressed the booking confirmation key on the website four times and booked four rooms instead of one.  I only noticed the next morning as I had logged off after first confirmation email arrived. I phoned the hotel, but the staff declined to credit the cost of the extra three rooms – even though they were not used.  MW, Derry.

A The additional three room bookings would have cost an additional €375. Radisson has waived this charge because of the confusion.

Q. In January I phoned the Palace Theatre to purchase two tickets for that evening’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert performance. I was told that the only seats available were £20 or £65 and that the £20 seats had a restricted view. When I asked what this meant, I was told that the restriction was ‘when some things were happening on the far left of the stage’. I was surprised and disappointed to discover that this restriction applied to the whole of the front of the stage and therefore a large part of the ‘action’ and set pieces. CA, London.

A Anna Charles, theatre manager at the Palace Theatre, says: “I accept that the information given out by the call centre operator could have been more comprehensive, and in order to provide more detailed information on the nature of this restriction in future the producer will be creating a briefing sheet for use by call centre operators. However, given that these tickets were £20 each, compared to the top price of £67.75, and clearly state that there is a restricted view, I would not agree that they were mis-sold.”

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