Moneywise gets your money back - Firefly, Testocore, Lloyds Bank
1. Firefly car rental billed me for unwanted extras
I booked car hire online from Easycar.com and collected my rental from Alicante Airport last September.
When I received my credit card statement a month later, I was shocked to see that Firefly car rental had taken a further £194.35 from my account.
I called my bank and it cancelled the transaction but I have now received a final demand from Firefly's owner, Hertz, for payment.
When I collected the car, I categorically stated that I wanted nothing extra and the person who served me told me that was OK and to just sign the documents.
I booked online exactly what I wanted, so it would be a quick and easy transaction. I have detailed my complaint to Easycar.com but its disinterested reply just reasserts that I signed the paper.
There's nothing like being ripped off to sour the memory of a holiday. Our reader – like so many other holidaymakers – admits to not reading the documentation he was asked to sign but how many of us do?
He ordered a car online to avoid the exact situation he found himself in and then reiterated his desire not to have any extras added when he picked up the car. So what went wrong?
We contacted Hertz, which assured us it would look into what happened. Within 10 days the company had provided us and the customer with a comprehensive and detailed response into what had gone on - as well as an apology.
Hertz says it was "very concerned" to hear that additional items had been added to his order including an optional Super Cover Waiver, which reduces a customer's liability to nil in the case of an accident, as well as an upgrade fee.
Its investigation led it to speak to the woman who served our reader. It was in "no doubt" it was an unintentional error on her part, though her performance will be monitored to ensure it was a one-off mistake.
The spokesman confirmed that the invoice that was sent to the customer has now been cancelled. Hertz also sent him a rental voucher worth £75 as a goodwill gesture, leaving our reader happy with the outcome.
"Many thanks for all your help. People cannot be expected to stand in a queue thoroughly reading a lengthy car rental document before signing," he says.
Have you are being treated unfairly? Click here and let us know your situation and we will see whether we can help.
2. Testocore charged me for its 'free' trial
I took out a deal with a men's health company, Testocore Advance, for two of its products back in April. The deal was to pay for only the postage and packing of the items, which came to a total of £5.98.
A couple of weeks later, I was shocked to discover a total of £174.94 had been taken from my account. I rang my bank straightaway and was told that I was charged because I didn't return the items within 14 days.
I certainly don't recall reading this when I signed up for the deal. I have tried contacting Testocore but was told there was no chance of a refund. I have been swindled. Please help.
It seems our reader isn't the only one who has fallen foul of Testocore Advanced and its growth supplements.
A quick Google search turns up many other dissatisfied customers who have found themselves in the same situation as our reader.
Unfortunately, the company refused to speak to us and has failed to resolve the customer's complaint – or those of its many other unhappy customers.
When I phoned the company, I spoke to a man who told me he was unable to help. He gave me another number to try – the number I had already called. With no other way to get in touch, I emailed the firm on two separate occasions to try to seek an explanation but, unsurprisingly, I've had no response.
It's not all bad news, though. Moneywise got in touch with our reader's bank, First Direct. Within a couple of days, it had looked into his case and decided to refund all of his money – despite having done nothing wrong.
As well as getting his money back, our reader said he wanted to make a point about the company in order to stop other people making the same mistake.
"When I first spoke to First Direct, it said similar scams had happened thousands of times to other customers as well," he said. "I am so grateful to both Moneywise and my bank for its help."
A First Direct spokesperson said: "We were sorry to hear our customer had been duped and we sympathised with his situation."
3. Lloyds Bank drags its heels on PPI refund
I applied to Lloyds Bank for a PPI refund worth £850. I waited almost eight weeks for the bank to contact me again. Two days before the deadline, I called the bank and it said a decision had yet to be reached.What I can do next?
PPI seems to have been a never-ending problem for banks and customers alike.The mis-selling scandal has been one of the major reasons why the public's trust in the financial sector has collapsed in recent years.
In this case, our reader said she felt "railroaded" into taking out PPI back in 2002 as she was told it was "unlikely" she would get a mortgage if she didn't take it out.
Fortunately, the day after the reader emailed Moneywise, Lloyds contacted her to say her complaint had been upheld and that her money would be refunded.
"I am sorry for any upset or inconvenience the customer may have received and hope she is happy with the final response," the bank's spokesperson added.
Our reader warns others who may have a PPI claim to put their appeal in themselves and not go through a claims management company, which could take a large amount of money if a claim is successful. "I read up about it in Moneywise, it was very easy and you don't need to use a third party," she says.
Payment protection insurance is designed to cover you should you fall ill, have an accident or lose your job and can’t make repayments on loans or credit cards. However, research by consumer watchdogs found the cover to be overpriced, filled with exclusions (policies exclude self-employment, contract employees and pre-existing medical conditions) and were often mis-sold because the exclusions were never fully explained. In May 2011, the High Court ruled banks had knowingly mis-sold PPI and ordered them to compensate around two million consumers.
The practice of a dishonest salesperson misrepresenting or misleading an investor about the characteristics of a product or service. For example, selling a person with no dependants a whole-of-life policy. There have been notable mis-selling scandals in the past, including endowment policies tied to mortgages, employees persuaded to leave final salary pensions in favour of money purchase pensions (which paid large commissions to salespeople) and payment protection insurance. There is no legal definition of mis-selling; rather the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issues clarifying guidelines and hopes companies comply with them.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.