Been ripped-off? Moneywise gets your money back, Loan firms, Vodafone, Costa Coffee

Loan firms left me overdrawn

I have applied for a couple of loans online with The RightLoan4U and My Loan Now, and the companies have withdrawn money from my account without my say-so.The two charges came to £127.87 and made me overdrawn - I don't have an agreed overdraft so had to pay money into my account to stop me incurring penalties. One of the firms has even tried to take money out twice. I feel stupid and worried. Is there anything I can do?
WS/North Yorkshire

Moneywise says...

In this instance, the companies that took money from our reader's account were not payday loan firms but payday loan brokers.These are businesses that promise to put you in touch with loan firms, in return for a hefty fee.

With payday loans not exactly hard to come by, the existence of these brokers is somewhat baffling, as well as damaging - the last thing people who require a payday loan need is any kind of additional expense. Nevertheless, customers are increasingly being duped into paying fees levied by these brokers, either through not checking the terms and conditions or the T&Cs not being clear enough. But the Competition and Market Authority is demanding that brokers display their charges more prominently.

The Financial Ombudsman Service says it has seen a huge rise in recent complaints about brokers that drain money from people's accounts without providing them with the loan they were looking for. It has been contacted by more than 10,000 people complaining about broker websites in the first eight months of 2014 – more than double the amount received in 2013. In two-thirds of the cases it investigated, it found that the consumer had been treated unfairly.

The Financial Conduct Authority says credit brokering is a legitimate activity under the Consumer Credit Act, though the regulation requires firms to display all fees and charges prominently so as not to misinform the consumer.

I contacted WS's bank, NatWest, as well as one of the companies in question: Nouveau Finance Limited, which operates The RightLoan4U website. Nouveau eventually decided to issue WS with a refund of £59.99, as well as an apology for any stress she has experienced as a result. I was less successful in trying to speak to someone at My Loan Now.

Fortunately, when NatWest heard about what happened, it quickly refunded WS all the money that had been withdrawn from her account, despite it not being liable in any way. When I told NatWest that WS had received a partial refund from one of the companies, it still allowed her to keep all of the the bank's refund, leaving WS delighted with NatWest's response.

A spokesperson for the bank, which has also seen a large increase in customers incurring charges when using payday loan brokers, gave this warning: "We urge customers to think very carefully before using this type of service and to always read the terms and conditions, plus additional information on the broker's website.

"If one of our customers finds they have paid these charges, they should get in touch with us as soon as possible, so that we can stop payment of further charges and help them to recoup funds already paid."

Our reader said: "I want to say a massive thank you to both Moneywise and NatWest for all your help."

Vodafone changed the rules on my data dongles

A few years ago, I bought three Vodafone data dongles for my family to use when we were away from home. This was ideal because you topped them up by £15 for 1GB of data, which never expired. However, Vodafone has now changed the rules so that the top-ups expire if they are not used within 30 days.

I wrote to Vodafone expressing my unhappiness about this and it offered me the £59.02 that was outstanding on the dongles, as well as £25 on a new SIM card.

I was still unhappy with the changes, so I wrote to the ombudsman to see if it could help but, unfortunately, it couldn't. Since then, I have written to Vodafone twice and called them asking for the refund but I have heard nothing back.

Moneywise says…

A quick internet search reveals that our reader wasn't alone in his disappointment over the changes to the dongle T&Cs, with many expressing their unhappiness on online forums.

Vodafone's original no-expiry tariff was withdrawn from sale back in 2010 but those who had already bought dongles with no expiry were allowed to carry on using the service. However, this changed in August last year, with users told that tariffs would now come with a 30-day limit.

I was unable, of course, to get Vodafone to change its dongle business model as it is clearly making more money from the switch to a 30-day tariff but I did want it to at least honour its original offer to RW (even though he should perhaps have accepted the offer when it was first made). Happily, after I got in touch with Vodafone, it investigated our reader's case and agreed to issue his refund for £59.02, as well as a £25 credit on a SIM card, too.

However, given the lack of response from Vodafone, RW has had enough and moved to a new provider. He is convinced he would still be fighting for his money if Moneywise hadn't got involved. "I have been so frustrated by Vodafone and the whole affair," he says.

Seeing red at Costa Coffee

I recently bought two large coffees from the Costa Coffee branch in Stockton for my daughter and I.

Unfortunately, my daughter's drink had some blood stains on the underneath of the lid. After taking it back to the counter, I was given the head office number and, after speaking to the area manager, I received a £20 Costa gift card.

I called back and said I would never use the giftcard, so would it be possible to send a £20 cheque to my daughter. Someone said they would call me back but this was nearly three weeks ago and I have still heard nothing. Please can you help?

Moneywise says…

Given the rather unusual circumstances of the case, it was disappointing to hear that our reader had received poor customer service from such a major chain.

She told Moneywise: "I really feel that Costa did not care about the situation at all. I have been made to feel like I am a nuisance for bothering them with this matter."

It took Costa a week to get back to us, giving us a taste of the frustration felt by LM, but eventually a spokesperson told us it had carried out an investigation into what happened. No blood was found in the store, leaving it a mystery as to where the blood on the cup came from.

However, the firm confirmed that, as well as a letter of apology, it had now agreed to send LM a £20 cheque as a gesture of goodwill – and she was allowed to keep the £20 giftcard, too.

Your Comments

It's getting on for 100 pieces of correspondence now that have been sent and received since I tried to establish the whereabouts of 2 parcels that were "delivered" to me by Hermes on 27/11/14.
They left a "sorry I missed you" note and that the parcels had been left either in a shed (which we don't have) or the secure front porch (which we dont have). Needless to say we could not find the parcels.
Hermes said at once that they were not responsible and referred me to Parcels2Go who in turn referred me back to Hermes and so on and so on.
I had the Hermes note with a barcode on it but neither company ever commented on the relevance of the barcode.
I believe the 2 parcels in question were presents from either friends, family or colleagues as my birthday (and Christmas) was in December. Having lived abroad for a number of years I quite often receive gift parcels or other from people who keep in touch and so pinning down from whom these parcels came from is very much impossible.
So, neither company will help or offer any way forward other than for me to establish the names of the senders. I'm very reluctant to do that as I've got no idea where to start and would feel very embarrassed asking "did you send me a parcel" when in fact they probably did not.
The customer service from Hermes has been appalling. They have repeated themselves time and agreferred my letter to the customer service director for a personal review. 
If you can help in any way I would be very grateful.
The Hermes barcode on the note left is 80803679 and the incident number is 150107-006354.
Thank you
Martyn Meadows
07720 716802

Hermes courier service, in the past 18 months or so 6 items have gone astray, and have never been delivered. the one that was delivered (Golf Balls) the replacement parcel had been cut open and most of the contents were gone, 6 left out of 48 golf balls. This comapny repeatedly doesnt give a **** about anyone or anything, customer service is a total Joke, the head of it doesnt even have the  balls to answer any questions or personally reply to any form of email or criticism. Obviously everything is not lost, but stolen by staff or associates and they dont care.There are mountains of complaints about this company and its disgustion practises. People order items in good faith, then get ripped of by this bunch tossers.
SO, DONT ever use Hermes, unless you want to find your order dissapearing and probably on eBay

The Ombudsman has told me that Nationwide can close accounts and keep your money and there is nothing you can do about it.   I gave them a detailed account of how Nationwide closed my account and forged banking records and left me pennyless but the Ombudsman, despite giving me two complaint reference numbers, then gave a report that did not relate to ONE of the poitns I had raised.
What is the point of an organization that just fakes its results?
If you speak to James Warwicker, Siomn Coe, Ben Murray, kiss your money goodbye, they says bank's  don't lie and have no frinance or quality qualifications

To whom it may concern

It has been a frustrating journey with BT in regard to the quality of service received from BT during my contract. The quality of service was poor from the onset and there were uncompensated unplanned outages and complete no service at most times. Also actual speed to the property was way short to the promised speed at the time of joining BT.

After a 14 months long frustration of service and distress, I decided to terminate my contract before the actual end date. I wrote to BT on numerous occasions to address the persistent problems nothing was done.

There was a persistent international call claimed to be for BT claiming attempting fix remotely, but never seems to rectify the problem, but rather became harassment to my family and I, as my child sleep was interrupted on numerous occasions.

Also there was no service to the property from the 28th of July.
As a result I cancelled my direct debit and advised I won't be paying for any future bill. Only recently I discovered BT passed on my details to debt collect regarding no payment. I was actually wondering how companies like BT can get away with substandard delivery of service and yet punish consumers for fighting for their right?

Incident number (141216-014731)