Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q. I have a Personal Pension Plan with Aviva that I want to activate. I have been made redundant from my teaching post and became 61 in February. Aviva sent me a ‘Retirement Illustration’, but as I have some minor medical conditions my advisor suggested I should fill in the medical form Aviva sent me. This might result in a more accurate forecast and possibly an ‘upping’ of my benefits. I posted the form on 20 July and Aviva received it two days later, as they have confirmed. A month later I phoned to ask about progress and was told I would have a reply within three days. After three days I received a call to confirm my identity and was told the reply would be with me within another three days. In early September I phoned to ask why I had not had the reply and I was promised I would be phoned back with an answer – which I was not. Another week later I asked to speak to a section superior, explained the situation and was promised I would be phoned back with an answer – which again did not happen. Another two days later I did receive a call and was told that because of a ‘technical problem’ the reply will take another two to three weeks. Can you find out when I will get an answer? JG, Isle of Man.

A Aviva has now provided a full statement on the annuity options available to you. A spokeswoman for Aviva says: “We’ve now reviewed this matter and acknowledge that [the reader] experienced delays in receiving her illustrations on the various options open to her and did not receive her further illustrations relating to a health-related enhanced pension entitlement. We fully apologise for these delays, which were in part due to some administration errors in the processing of [the reader’s] additional medical forms.” In recognition of the poor service provided, Aviva is sending you £200. In addition, Aviva will backdate any annuity payments with interest and if you now decide to move to another provider Aviva will compensate you for any loss caused by the delays.

Q. I believe that my son should be entitled to receive a Child Trust Fund, with a payment from the Government of £50. I have spoken to the Child Benefit Office and the Child Trust Fund for the last year, but cannot get a payment or an answer. He is a British citizen and has a British passport. We moved abroad last October 2010 and my son was born in December 2010. GI, Finland.

A HM Revenue & Customs explains that the qualifying conditions for a Child Trust Fund and the £50 are that the child was born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011; that you were paid Child Benefit for that child for at least one day before 4 January 2011, that your child lives in the UK and that your child is not subject to any immigration restriction. You accept that as you were living in Finland when you applied, the criteria mean that your son is not entitled to a Child Trust Fund payment.

Q. I am having difficult checking my credit status with credit reference agency Experian. There is one item on my record marked “default”, while the others are shown as “satisfactory”. There was a disputed bill with Tesco relating to a fraudulent transaction, which is now resolved. But Experian is marking up the problem as being with Egg, which is why the matter is not shown as resolved. I have already sent Experian a letter from Tesco to confirm that this disputed item has been cleared and requested that it be removed from, or corrected in, my credit report. I also want to end my subscription of £5.99 per month for a credit report, which I don’t need other than to correct this error which should not take almost three months to do. SB, by email.

A. Experian says it contacted Tesco earlier this month to confirm your explanation and Tesco “replied within a few days asking us to amend the account”. James Jones, a spokesman for Experian, explains: “This has been actioned and now the account is marked as settled with a perfect payment record.” Experian adds that while it has cancelled your CreditExpert membership, you did not need to join its service in order to correct your credit status report. “The law gives consumers the right to have errors rectified on any credit report they have received from us and there is certainly no obligation to continue monitoring your credit report just because data on it has been disputed,” says Jones.

Q. I am trying to obtain a refund from Argos Direct, which I have twice been promised. I bought a self-assembly sideboard online in May for £88.94 for home delivery. A part was faulty and the unit replaced, but several parts of the replacement unit were faulty. I agreed to take a different model, but this turned out to have been deleted. I was then refunded £77.99, but the delivery charge was not repaid. RS, by email.

A Argos is now refunding the £8.95 delivery charge, plus an additional £20 as a gesture of goodwill. The company apologises and says the situation “should never have happened”.

Q. I moved in May and transferred my Virgin Media contract with me. The internet never worked properly. After lots of calls and visits from technicians failed to resolve the problem we switched to TalkTalk. The service worked instantly and was half the price. I asked Virgin Media for a refund, but was offered just £5.39 and I am to be charged £49 for disconnection. GM, by email.

A Virgin Media says the charge is not for disconnection, but was a £40 installation fee – including for the phone line which did work and were used. However, Virgin Media will now refund £51.50 of fees already paid a gesture of goodwill, as well as waiving all disconnection fees. Virgin Media apologies for not providing “the high-quality service we strive to deliver”.

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