TONY HETHERINGTON: I paid for a flight I couldn't use

9 mins read


Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

K.M. writes: Last January, we booked our family holiday to France, with an outward flight and car hire from easyJet and the return flight with Ryanair. 

On July 14, easyJet cancelled the outward flight and gave a complete refund for its tickets and the car hire. 

We have an annual travel policy with Nationwide Building Society, which told us we should try to cancel the Ryanair flight, failing which we should ask our credit card firm for a refund, and only claim on the travel policy if both these suggestions failed. 

Blow: EasyJet cancelled the outward flight to France so Mr M could not fly back

Blow: EasyJet cancelled the outward flight to France so Mr M could not fly back

You told me that you took Nationwide’s advice and contacted Ryanair, but you say this was simply ‘an unfruitful hour on the phone’ that got you nowhere. You then contacted your card issuer, Halifax, hoping for a refund under the rules that make card companies jointly liable if a deal involving at least £100 goes wrong. 

However, Halifax turned you down, saying that the Ryanair flight was still operating and your seats on the aircraft were still there, even though you could not be in France to sit in those seats because your outward flight had been scrapped. 

So, with those two avenues closed, you went back to Nationwide to claim under travel insurance. But Nationwide turned you down, saying that because you made the refund claim to Halifax before the Government advised against travel to France, this proved that the cancellation was nothing more than your own choice all along. Yet you had only made the claim to Halifax in the first place because this is exactly what Nationwide told you to do. 

The travel policies that Nationwide gives to its members are actually provided by a separate company, UK Insurance, so I asked both of them to look into what you had told me and then explain what you had done wrong. Nationwide was quick to say: ‘We apologise to our member as a review of their claim has shown that the original decline decision was wrong.’ 

Your situation really was covered by the terms of the policy. And UK Insurance told me: ‘As Mr M’s outbound flight was cancelled by a different travel provider, there was a direct impact to the inbound flight which ultimately had to be cancelled. We have therefore decided to pay the claim in full and have reviewed our processes to ensure that similar unusual scenarios are always referred for an assessment.’ 

Your Ryanair tickets cost £501, but the policy has a £100 excess that you have to meet yourself. Other than this £100 deduction, your claim will now be met and £401 is on its way to you.

Mystery of the missing football shirt

Signed...and delivered: Liverpool’s Sepp van den Berg

Signed…and delivered: Liverpool’s Sepp van den Berg

Ms R.M. writes: I paid £5 for a ticket in a raffle promoted on eBay, with profits going to the NHS. 

The prizes were football shirts signed by top players, and as my brother is a big Liverpool FC fan, I hoped to win a Number 72 shirt signed by Sepp van den Berg. 

To my excitement, I received an email saying I had won, and asking for my address for delivery. I gave my address, but no shirt arrived and eBay says it regards the matter as closed. 

After I contacted eBay, staff there said they told you that the shirt had in fact been delivered, and they even gave you a picture taken by the delivery driver. It was a picture of a package lying on a doorstep, next to a welcome mat. The doorstep was not yours. Because of Covid, the driver did not ask for a signature when he handed over the parcel, but made a note that the man who answered the door gave his name as Christian. 

You live in a small town, and I found nine people locally who are named Christian. I was about to start contacting all of them, when remarkably, you went for a walk and spotted a familiar looking welcome mat on someone’s doorstep. 

You knocked, and Christian answered the door. He told you that he had opened the package and knew the shirt was not for him, but when he rang the delivery company, it said there was nothing it could do. So, a happy ending. You have the shirt signed by Sepp van den Berg, which is going to be your brother’s Christmas present, and eBay has told me the raffle raised £1million for the NHS. Excellent.

I hit the wrong key… now where’s my £1,000 gone?

Ms K.W. writes: I made an online bank payment of £1,000 from my TSB account to my mortgage lender, Birmingham Midshires. 

Unfortunately, I made a one-digit typing error in the account number, though I gave my correct mortgage number, which staff have told me enables Birmingham Midshires to allocate the payment to the right mortgage. 

TSB confirmed my money went to Birmingham Midshires, but staff there do not even reply to my letters, so where has my £1,000 gone? 

TSB confirmed without any problem that your payment went through, and that despite your typing error, your £1,000 still went to Birmingham Midshires and did not bounce back. 

TSB even gave the address where your money had gone. But when you wrote repeatedly in the hope of getting confirmation that the money had arrived, you received no response. 

I asked officials at Birmingham Midshires to track down your £1,000, and they have told me that they did receive it, and it had actually been credited to your mortgage account, but without telling you. They added: ‘We are sorry that we did not confirm receipt to Ms W, and have made a goodwill payment in recognition of this.’ You are now £150 better off.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

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