Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  My 16 year old daughter befriended a Turkish man she met on the internet.  In October she bought a ticket for £200 from Going Places.  The police stopped my daughter at Manchester airport after I reported her missing. NS, Leeds.

A.  You believe that Thomas Cook should repay you £200, because one of its branches refused to serve your daughter as she looked under 18, yet its ‘Going Places’ outlet did serve her.  In addition, you argue that the contract she agreed in the Going Places outlet was not legally valid as she is under 18.  Thomas Cook’s Going Places division does not accept your case.  A Going Places spokeswoman says: “[The reader’s daughter] presented herself as over the age of 18, but as part of the booking process the agent also asked to confirm this when agreeing to, and signing, the booking conditions, which she did.”  Going Places’ staff use their discretion regarding age and proof of identification and Going Places believes that its staff carried out the necessary checks.


Q.  Shortly after the birth of my son in 1995  I opened a ‘Junior Barclayplus Account’ with Barclays in Edinburgh.  In the following years I made frequent small deposits.  In around 2006 we stopped paying into the account.  About 18 months ago we thought it best to close it and transfer the proceeds to another account with the Newcastle Building Society, which my son’s grandmother administers.  I enquired about closing the account, but was told Barclays could not trace a signature card.  We were told it could be resolved best by calling into the Edinburgh branch, but this was not convenient so we left it.  In January I posted a signed instruction to Barclays to close the account, which has not been acknowledged.  When I phoned Barclays, I was told the account had been classed as ‘dormant’.  To claim the money I need to fill in forms that I could download from the British Bankers’ Association website.  After I did this, Barclays wrote saying everything should be resolved within 28 days.  In March I received a letter saying the account was closed in June 2008 and that “…the account was not closed to dormancy and there are no funds to be repaid”.  So far as I can recall no money was paid into any of the accounts I maintain with Barclays.  I’m appalled by the level of service and the inability to comply with a relatively standard request.  CN,


A.  Barclays believes that you have forgotten that you asked in 2008 that the account be wound-up.  As a result, the balance from the account was transferred to joint account in June 2008.  Barclays has now provided you with bank statements backing-up its version of events, which you accept.  You say that you overlooked the payment as it was credited at the same time as your salary.


Q.  I purchased a laptop from, with a warranty that allowed me to receive a free new computer at the end of three years.   I have been told I cannot have the replacement because I did not fill in the claim form online.  However, I made my purchase via the telephone and at no time was I told I needed to fill in the information online.   None of the documentation makes reference to this.  I would not have purchased my laptop from this company if the deal had not included the replacement. 


A.  Laptops Direct took over two months to properly respond to our enquiry on your behalf, despite repeated requests fir a response.  The company explained there had been delays caused by staff illness and the time it took to conduct its own investigation.  It has now responded – rejecting the claim.  Laptops Direct says: “All of our customers who were entitled to the three year replacement scheme were to fill in the online form, which was available on all our websites at the time of purchase and submit this information to the insurance company Fortis.”  As the warranty was underwritten by an insurer, the transaction is a matter that can be investigated by the Financial Ombudsman Service.  We strongly recommend that you refer the matter to them for adjudication.


Q.  I recently signed up through Sainsbury’s to receive gas and electricity through EDF using the OnlineS@aver Version 5 Tariff.  I notice that the ‘Full Tariff Rules’ states “until 31 March 2011, we will ensure that the OnlineS@aver Version 5 Tariff unit rates are at least 2% less than our equivalent standard tariff unit rate (excluding the fixed daily charge which applies to the OnlineS@aver Version 5 tariff ).”   It later states that “if at any time prior to 31 March 2011 our OnlineS@aver Version 5 Tariff unit rate becomes more than 2% higher than our equivalent standard tariff unit rate we will….

reduce our OnlineS@aver Version 5 Tariff unit rate to a rate that is at least 2% less than our equivalent standard tariff unit rate”.  It seems to me that Sentence 3 contradicts Sentence 2 in that it could be taken to imply that until the OnlineS@aver Version 5 Tariff unit rate is at least 2% higher than the standard tariff unit rate no steps will be taken to reduce it to 2% below the standard tariff unit rate.  Sainsbury’s/EDF assure me verbally that this will not be the case.  Can you get clarification please?  AT, by email.


A.  “EDF Energy would like to apologise for any confusion caused by the terms and conditions of our Online S@ver 5 tariff,” said a spokesman for the company.  “If EDF Energy’s Online S@ver Version 5 rates became less than 2% cheaper than standard rates, we would either reduce our Online S@ver Version 5 Tariff unit rate so it meets our minimum guarantee, or provide a rebate to the customer.”  It will bear in mind your comments when it reviews the wording of its terms and conditions.

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