ASK TONY: A friend booked our group holiday, but my insurer won't pay

In October 2019, eight of us (four couples) booked a holiday cottage in Somerset costing £1,200 for a short break from March 24, 2020. 

One of our group booked for all of us and we each gave him our £300 share.

We are all retired so, with a lack of guidance over Covid, we cancelled on March 22. A group of eight from different parts of the country is not a good mix for the infection.

Frozen out: A reader has been left out of pocket after her insurer refused to pay out after a group holiday she and her husband were due to take had to be cancelled due to the pandemic

Frozen out: A reader has been left out of pocket after her insurer refused to pay out after a group holiday she and her husband were due to take had to be cancelled due to the pandemic

As we cancelled within 14 days of the date, the terms said there would be no refund. Our nominated person attempted to reclaim the full cost first from his credit card company and then from his insurance company.

His insurer would only pay his £300 share minus £100 excess.

Two other group members each got £300 from their insurers.

Our insurance was with AXA via our Lloyds Bank account. It has refused my claim and declined my complaint. It argues the money is recoverable from the holiday company as per a statement from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding refunds.

I have approached the holiday company three times quoting this advice and my friend has also sent his support.

It has responded once saying it had no contract with me and therefore would not be entering into correspondence.

M. H., Devon.

Tony Hazell replies: Book your holiday now, cries the travel industry. You’ll have no problems. Yet people such as you are still trying to get refunds from last year.

Technically, the holiday firm is correct. You don’t have a contract with it. But, in your shoes, I wouldn’t use the company again.

But what about your insurance? The CMA guidance covers cancellations caused by government lockdowns and restrictions. You cancelled the day before the spring 2020 lockdown was announced so I do not understand why AXA keeps harping back to it.

I took your case to Lloyds, which went to AXA. It said its policy applies to unused accommodation costs that are ‘irrecoverable’ and again referred to the CMA guidance. Yawn!

The good news is that, as recognition of your status as a long-term loyal customer and a gesture of goodwill, Lloyds Bank has decided to cover the £300 you are out of pocket, although it has agreed with AXA’s interpretation of the guidance. Yawn again!

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson says: ‘We appreciate that [the insurance decision] is a disappointing outcome for Mrs M.H., so will pay for this portion of her cancelled trip.’

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about why many of us are working for longer. 

Both my parents died aged 55. I retired at 61 after my husband recovered from cancer and we reassessed our priorities. 

I won’t receive a state pension for another four years, but working part-time wasn’t an option.

S. Y., Newcastle.

My spouse and I had good jobs in the civil service for more than 30 years. Our pensions are good, so we’re lucky. 

However, we’ve also always had good foresight and planned for retirement. God help today’s youngsters.

E. H., Nottingham.

I am 58 next year and as soon as I can afford to stop doing the 6.30am to 5.30pm working day I will pack it in. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has hit my private pension fund hard. I’m hoping it will bounce back over the next few years.

B. F., Huddersfield.

I retired when I was 65 after putting some money aside over the years. My job had changed so much and it was no longer the role I had previously loved. It was definitely the right time to get out, I’m very happy now.

A. V., Milton Keynes.

Instead of raising the retirement age, they should lower it and free up jobs for the unemployed. 

It won’t be long before it hits 70 and nobody will be fit or well enough to enjoy their retirement.

N. M., by email.

My company is outsourcing my department, so I am taking voluntary redundancy with six months’ pay. I will be 55 by then and, while I’ll look for another job, I don’t want to work more than three days a week.

P. P., Hampshire.

Fraud refund fight with Barclaycard   

I contacted Barclaycard about fraudulent payments on October 20. My statement of November 10 showed disputed transactions of £3,064.95 but there was a note saying interest would not be charged.

I received a refund of £2,015.31 but then a further £37.57 disputed transaction appeared and interest is being charged.

I feel I am being fobbed off.

broadband

G. D., Coventry.

Tony Hazell replies: Barclaycard started well with its handling of your complaint but then got rather lost.

A letter on November 21 said you had been refunded £3,064.95 but this was not reflected in your statements.

You wrote on January 11 but, by January 26, had not received a response. When I pushed, Barclaycard agreed that it still owed you £1,049.64 plus a return of interest. The other £37.57 has been removed.

Barclaycard has added £150 compensation.

However, when you checked the final calculations, you were still £6.25 short so Barclaycard added a further £10 to be sure everything was right.

A spokesman says: ‘While Mr D alerted us to the fraud as soon as possible, if a payment has already been approved we cannot always stop the funds from leaving the account.

‘In this instance, we would look to refund the fraudulent transactions. We appreciate that, although the initial £2,015.31 was refunded swiftly, due to human error the remaining amount was not initially refunded and we apologise for the delay on this.’

Your letter reminds us all how important it is to check credit card transactions regularly, preferably online or via a phone app — and certainly on a monthly statement.

Straight to the point 

My daughter ordered a mobile phone from Argos last year costing £419 plus £3.50 delivery. 

She has learning difficulties and unfortunately entered the wrong address. Argos promised to send a new phone but this has not arrived.

C. M., via email.

Argos says its records show the replacement phone was sent to your daughter’s address. 

However, as it was a contactless delivery, it does not have the usual proof of delivery such as a signature. It has now apologised for the delay and arranged for another replacement.

*** 

In October, I bought a Samsung TV from Currys PC World’s eBay page for £2,100 after seeing it had a five-year guarantee. 

However, when I checked this with Samsung it said this was incorrect.

J.A., Kent.

Samsung may offer a different guarantee as a manufacturer but Currys has confirmed you are entitled to the five years. 

It has sent you the appropriate documents as well as a £30 voucher as goodwill.

*** 

I ordered a cast-iron fire pit from Amazon but, when it arrived, I saw it was poor quality and not as described. 

The seller says I have to return it at my own cost, with no acknowledgement of the misrepresentation, and Amazon is not being helpful.

R. P., via email.

The seller incorrectly advised you on this matter. Amazon has now reported it to the relevant department and has offered to fill out the returns request for you. It has also sent you a hamper in goodwill.

*** 

My 96-year-old father took two £25 Premium Bond cheques to his local bank but was turned away because they had apparently ‘expired’. How is this fair?

K.P., Lincoln.

Your father’s prizes were won in the September and October draws last year, which means they were past their three-month expiry date. 

After I contacted NS&I, it sent your father two new cheques.

Where’s my missing RBS dividend? 

I closed my Interactive Investor account in April 2019.

I assumed the dividend on my RBS shares, worth £243.23, would follow later. It never has. I am 83 and don’t use computers. 

I was told the payment was in my bank account but it isn’t.

L. W., Newark.

Tony Hazell replies: Interactive Investor (II) tells me that this has been a protracted process.

You sold your holding in April 2019 for £5,287 and withdrew the money later that month.

You had sold after the dividend had been declared, so were due £243.23 when it was paid.

It contacted you to say the money was waiting to be withdrawn on May 1, 2019, but you did not request to withdraw the funds — possibly because you don’t use computers.

So, basically, you were waiting for it to send the money and it was waiting for you to take it. Meanwhile, 18 months passed.

In December 2020, your son-in-law made contact to ask how to withdraw the funds. This has now been done.

II says it could have done more to assist you with your withdrawal in 2019 and that it should have followed up when the money was still there.

It has decided to refund a £15 fee it applied for a faster transaction when the withdrawal was made and has added £100 compensation.

Gary Shaw, director of operations, says: ‘I would like to apologise for any distress that may have been caused.’

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source: dailymail.co.uk