My husband and I paid £4,693.20 for a cruise to the Azores. We were due to travel on March 24 last year but it was cancelled due to Covid on March 20.
On July 21 of last year, our travel company, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (part of South Quay Travel & Leisure), went into administration.
We submitted a claim to ABTA [the UK’s trade association for travel agents and tour operators].
Blame game: Barclays bank refused to refund a couple’s cash after their dream £5,000 Azores cruise was cancelled due to Covid
It said that as we had paid by Barclays debit card we must apply to the bank for a refund via a dispute process known as chargeback.
Barclays refused. ABTA needs to know the reason for refusal before considering a refund. Barclays has ignored requests for a letter of explanation.
On November 6 last year, we asked the Financial Ombudsman for help. But it said it was unable to appoint an agent because it had a huge backlog of cases due to the pandemic.
M. V., Bexley, South-East London.
Tony Hazell replies: Book and travel with confidence, says the ABTA website.
Well, any idea that an ABTA logo was a short route to holiday protection was blown apart by Covid cancellations.
Various sectors of the travel industry booted claims and clients between one another.
While air-based holidays fall under the responsibility of ATOL [a financial protection scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority] when a firm fails, ABTA covers non flight-based holidays.
But read into its smaller print and it says that travellers must use chargeback if they paid by debit or credit card.
So I think it is legitimate to ask, what’s the point of ABTA?
When you tried chargeback via your bank, Barclays, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’s bank bounced back the requests.
You were credited for your first payment of £154. But the third-party bank refused the other three payments saying you would be protected by ABTA.
Your attempts to get more information from Barclays were frustrated because the person responding appeared to be under the impression that Cruise & Maritime Voyages was still in business, even though you told them it had ceased trading.
That advice that you contact the company directly suggests you were receiving ‘cut-and-paste’ responses from staff who had failed to read your letter properly. So you were stuck between ABTA telling you to ask for chargeback and Cruise & Maritime Voyages’s bank arguing you should use ABTA.
Barclays has now stepped in to fix the issue and acknowledges it had enough information to escalate the dispute. It has returned the remaining £4,539.20, plus £277.24 compensatory interest. You’ve also had £150 redress as apology.
Incidentally, the interest has had basic rate tax deducted. You may be able to reclaim the £69 tax from HMRC, using a form R40, if your total savings interest this tax year is less than £1,000.
An ABTA spokesman says: ‘If an ABTA tour operator fails financially, customers who have booked protected packages are entitled to a refund.’
That may be the case but there are plenty of complaints from Cruise & Maritime Voyages’s customers who have struggled getting refunds via chargebacks or from ABTA. A spokesman for the Financial Ombudsman Service says: ‘We are sorry that we were unable to deal with this complaint more quickly.’
It says it received nearly 280,000 complaints last year and resolved nearly 250,000.
Phantom eight hour TalkTalk cost me£163
I called an 0330 customer service number of a delivery firm from my TalkTalk mobile phone. TalkTalk has charged £163 claiming the call lasted for eight hours.
How could TalkTalk think that a customer would be on the phone to customer service for eight hours?
TalkTalk demanded instant payment and has now blocked my wife’s phone even though the call was made from my phone.
A. G., Edgware, North London.
Tony Hazell replies: Eight hours does seem a little excessive. But, of course, there isn’t anybody looking at bills to decide whether they make sense. The computer rules, OK?
TalkTalk has now written off the £163 as a goodwill gesture and your wife’s phone is working.
Are husband’s old bonds worth anything?
My husband passed away in February last year.
Whilst sorting through his papers, I found some old Axa Equity & Law distribution bonds in his name.
Since then, I have been trying to get a response from Aviva, which took over Axa Equity & Law investments.
I was told it could not find any records but would investigate. For several months I have heard nothing.
V. C., Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Tony Hazell replies: It seems these bonds were cashed in more than two decades ago. Aviva accepts that it should have written to tell you this and apologises.
A spokesman says: ‘We’re sending some flowers as a goodwill gesture.’
Straight to the point
I insured my car with Be Wiser in October 2014 and cancelled my policy the following January.
The firm said I would be refunded £113 but I never received the money.
D. B., via email.
The refund was incorrectly made to an old bank card. The insurer said it had no further contact with you until September this year, but has now refunded the premium owed.
Three companions and I were due to stay at Warner Leisure Hotels in Cricket St Thomas, Somerset, in August.
We had to cancel a month before our trip after one of our party was diagnosed with cancer.
We were promised a refund but this has not been paid and no one is responding.
L.W., via email.
A spokesman for the company apologises for the delay, which it blames on very high levels of customer enquiries. It has now processed the full refund of £1,326.
When shopping in Sainsbury’s I was told I had £17 of Nectar card points but could only use £15 of it.
When I called the firm’s helpline I was told my balance was £50. What is going on?
V. H., Maesteg, Wales.
Sainsbury’s doesn’t know why you were told you had £17 worth of points, as you do have £50. However, you cannot spend any of this until you activate the card. The supermarket will be in touch to explain how to do this.
- Write to asktony@dailymail. co.uk or Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. Please include your phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given
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