YOUR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS SOLVED: DON’T STRUGGLE ALONE WITH FINANCIAL BUREAUCRACY,WE’RE HERE TO HELP
BY NATHALIE BONNEY & RUTH JACKSON BY
fi ghts for your rights fi ghts for your rights Are you struggling to resolve a dispute with a company? In this section, we promise to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of your problem. If you’ve been treated unfairly by your bank or are owed compensation for shoddy service, send us your complaint and Moneywise will take up the fight on your behalf.
Avis charged us twice for our African car hire
Last year, my fiancée and I booked a five-week car hire with Avis for our holiday in South Africa. To avoid coming back to additional expenses we prepaid the full amount of £834.95 on 10 November 2010. However, in January this year Avis debited a further £783.96 from our account.
We immediately contacted the Avis ‘customer service’ team to ask for a full refund of the second transaction. Having been asked to provide proof of the payments, we produced bank statements and Avis responded by saying there must have been an error in the way we made our booking.The booking was made directly with Avis so any error could only have come from its side.
Many calls and emails later, Avis finally admitted it had made a mistake. It had somehow ‘cancelled’ the booking on its prepay system so the payment of £834.95 should never have been taken and it confirmed the January payment to be the correct one for the booking. I expected to have the money refunded immediately. Sadly not.To date, we have only managed to get £748.75 back. Clearly, that is not a full refund of the £834.95 Avis took in error, and despite my best attempts to explain the very simple maths to the
Avis customer service team it simply refuses to accept that it still owes us money, even now some nine months later.
In all this time I have only ever asked for an apology and the full refund and I have not once asked Avis for interest on the outstanding amount or compensation to cover my expenses and time trying to rectify the situation.
Now I don’t even care about the apology, I just want the refund. Kerry Jones/ Bedfordshire
“The booking was made with Avis directly so any error
could only have come from its side”
ALTHOUGH Moneywise is flabbergasted that Avis can admit it’s got it wrong yet still somehow manage to flounder with the issue of refunding Kerry in full. Kerry even wrote to the chief executive and still heard nothing back. Why should he have to do all this chasing for an error that was entirely not his fault?
On contacting Avis, the company got back to Moneywise and “fully put its hands up for making the error”. It has promised to refund Kerry in full and has given him £65 in compensation. It is also sending Kerry’s fiancée a small gift. “Customer satisfaction is our number one priority and we have recently implemented an intense training programme for our teams to help us better serve our customers,” said an Avis spokesperson.
We’re glad to see the problem finally resolved, but we are shocked that it took the best part of a year to resolve such a gross error as charging a customer twice.
18 MONEYWISE | OCTOBER 2011
WWW.MONEYWISE.CO.UK YOUR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS SOLVED: DON’T STRUGGLE ALONE WITH FINANCIAL BUREAUCRACY,WE’RE HERE TO HELP
fi ghts for your rights fi ghts for your rights
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We have lost trust in the National Trust M
y wife and I have been enthusiastic members of the National Trust for two years and in March this year we took my daughter and her boyfriend, James, to visit one of the charity’s properties as they are interested in history. They thoroughly enjoyed the day so we decided to buy them both gift memberships to the National Trust. Filling out the forms was very protracted as the staff member seemed uncertain of the correct process and directed us to fill out the wrong forms. Eventually, after much patience, we left with two green gift membership application forms and two weeks later my daughter’s membership card arrived in the post. However, James’s membership card never arrived.
Since then, we have called the National Trust on several occasions and sent letters. Four times we have been told that a card has been posted to James, but it has failed to arrive.
We would like a refund for the unused membership and an apology for the inconvenience to us. I feel incredibly frustrated and let down by the National Trust, which I have supported for years. Peter Appleton/West Midlands
“We‘d like a refund for the unused membership and an apology for the inconvenience to us”
AFTER MONEYWISE intervened, the National
Trust was very quick to apologise for the problem saying “the fates have conspired against us in our efforts to get James his card”. The Trust blamed an initial system error, followed by repeated postal problems, and offered Peter a refund covering the period when James was unable to use his membership. However, given the length of time it has taken to resolve what should have been a very straightforward problem we pressed the National Trust for a bit more. It then said it would be sending Peter a letter of apology and some gift vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.
After six months, James still hasn’t received his card and so half of the annual membership we paid for has gone unused. While we appreciate the sum involved is not large, we wonder how many others have been affected this way and have given up.
“We make every effort to keep our members happy and we’re really disappointed that we’ve not been able to live up to our high standards on this occasion,” said a spokesperson.
Top tips for car hire
What to watch out for from your rental
Hiring a car for your holidays can be a minefield of hidden charges if you aren’t careful. Here are five tips to help you avoid any unexpected costs.
1. CHECK THE INSURANCE Before you book your rental, check the insurance policy to see how big the excess is.They are usually incredibly high but you can pay extra to reduce the excess. How much more you will have to pay to shrink the excess varies so check before you book.
2. READ THE SMALL PRINT Make sure you understand the rental firms incident procedures before you drive away.You don’t want to be stranded on a roadside with no idea who to call if the car breaks down.
3. CHECK THE FUEL POLICY This varies between companies with some expecting you to return the car with a full tank and others letting you buy a tank of petrol at the start of your hire and then return the car with an empty tank.Try to avoid the latter as you tend to pay over the odds for the fuel and its nigh on impossible to return a car with an empty tank – and you won’t get a refund for leftovers.
4. CHECK THE CAR Inspect the car carefully before you drive away in order to avoid being charged for pre-existing damage. If there is any damage, point it out to the person who organised your hire and photograph it.
5. READ YOUR CREDIT CARD STATEMENT After you get back from your holidays check your credit card statement carefully. Car hire firms are allowed to charge you after the hire for any damage to the car so keep an eye out for any charges you disagree with.
OCTOBER 2011 | MONEYWISE 19