On August 10, I became ill and was admitted to hospital. I have since been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome (a complication of shingles affecting the facial nerve).
I was due to fly out to Madeira with TUI on September 10, so I contacted the firm by email on September 4 to advise it that I was too ill to travel.
Its staff told me they may be able to help through the exceptions process, so I emailed the requested doctor’s letter confirming I was unfit to fly.
I rang up on September 11 to try to sort out a refund for the £303 cost of the ticket. I first talked to a man in customer services who said I was a ‘no-show’, but then spoke with a manager, who agreed they had asked only for the medical note.
Holiday hell: One reader was left in limbo when she was forced to cancel a holiday she’d booked with TUI due to illness
They agreed to charge me a £100 cancellation fee and to refund £203.
Nothing happened, so I called again, but was told the manager I’d spoken to was busy. No one rang me back.
When I emailed again, they replied saying I was essentially a no-show and so could not have a refund.
However, at no point did any of the correspondence say that I had to ring up and cancel the flight before the departure date.
L. B., by email.
You have sent me the trail of emails between yourself and TUI.
It asked whether you had travel insurance, then added: ‘If you do not have travel insurance and wish to amend your holiday to travel on later dates then I’d request you to send the medical documents supporting your illness or doctor’s letter stating that you are not fit to fly for your travel dates.
‘You may send this by replying back to this email, so that we can assist you further with the exception policies in place.’
You asked about travelling next year instead and, once again, it said it would look at its exceptions process, warning that once the departure date had gone, it wouldn’t be able to help.
The third email confirms your options — including opting for another holiday free of charge or cancelling the booking at a cost of £100.
Now, you took this to mean that all you needed to do was send the doctor’s letter.
In your shoes, I think I’d have also phoned to cancel, but I can understand why you did not think this necessary.
The good news is that TUI has now decided to pay the refund.
A spokesman says: ‘We would like to apologise to Mrs B for the delay in finalising her refund. We can confirm the matter has now been successfully resolved.’
But my message to you, and anyone else reading this column, is: for goodness’ sake, buy travel insurance on the day you book a holiday. It will cover cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances, as well as coughing up if you have any problems while you’re away.
Better still, if you are travelling more than a couple of times a year, invest in an annual policy, which is the cheapest way to have cover.
And do tell the insurer of any pre-existing medical conditions.
You have YOUR say
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some from our article about how property prices in the Midlands are booming…
The East Midlands is a great place to live — great countryside, people, history, sports clubs and transport links, so I’m not at all surprised it’s popular.
An overall average house price rise of 3.5 per cent is a healthy picture for the UK in general, too.
T. M., Marlow, Bucks.
I don’t know why prices in Watford have fallen so much. It’s easy to get into the capital and has fantastic shopping, great restaurants, culture and nightlife. What more could you ask for?
N. L., Watford, Herts.
We have a beautiful detached five-bedroom house backing on to rolling hills.
In our small town, everyone speaks to you when you’re out and about. Our property is worth £300,000 and we have a great quality of life.
H. R., Caistor, Lincs.
Of course London house prices are falling. Who would want to live in ‘sin city’? Violent attacks happen every week and there have been more than 100 murders this year.
J. S., Fort William.
I own property in the North and South, but I’d always choose to live full-time in the North. Everything here is better value.
Thank you, southerners, for paying such ridiculous rents — it funds my amazing properties here.
R. W., Leeds.
If all house prices reach those seen in the capital, then maybe the people who live elsewhere in the country will understand how Londoners are suffering with high rent and mortgage payments.
Wait till the rest of the country ends up complaining about paying inheritance tax on a flat.
A. L., London.
I tried to set up a two-year online savings bond with the Post Office.
I completed the paperwork and posted this along with a cheque for more than £25,000 from my maturing Nationwide bond account.
This was a personal cheque made out to me by Nationwide with an account number printed on it as a security measure.
But the cheque was returned to me with an accompanying letter, claiming it did not meet the Post Office’s criteria, as it was not a personal cheque.
I do not hold a current account cheque book, so I returned this cheque to the Post Office, along with a photocopy of the original bond certificate and maturity statement counterfoil as further proof that this was not a money-laundering exercise.
Yet the cheque was returned for a second time with an identical letter. I have spoken to its customer services, which confirms it will not accept this cheque, as it is regarded as a third-party cheque.
Is there any logical reason for treating people like criminals when other financial providers have no such restriction?
K. S., Suffolk.
How utterly daft! You have a valid cheque issued by the UK’s largest building society. It is in your name and has on it your account number. Furthermore, you were able to provide evidence showing details of the account.
The Post Office tells me that a personal cheque from a bank or building society account is needed when opening an account in branch. However, for online applications, following successful completion of the necessary identity checks, ‘a non-personal cheque should be acceptable’.
As a result of your case, the Post Office is reviewing its processes. It has contacted you to apologise for the inconvenience and will be offering you a goodwill gesture as thanks for highlighting the issue.
Straight to the point
I booked an appointment for Thames Water to fix a leaky pipe, but then broke my arm and had to have an operation on the day the engineer was due to visit.
My downstairs neighbour took the morning off work to wait in for the repair, but no one showed up. Can you ask the firm to compensate us for wasted time?
R. M., London.
Thames Water says that it isn’t legally required to fix the pipe, which is between the house and road, but that it carries out such jobs for free to reduce water waste. It has now fixed this for you, but had no record of the missed appointment you mention.
Watchdog Ofwat requires companies to pay compensation of at least £20 for missed appointments, but Thames Water has given you £70 as a goodwill gesture.
My wife and I were travelling with Virgin Trains from Shenfield to Chester via Euston earlier this year.
But, when we arrived at Euston station, all the trains to Chester had been cancelled.
After waiting six hours, we were forced to abandon our journey.
We were promised a full refund of £182, but have not received it. Please help.
S. D., by email.
Virgin Trains apologises for the disruption to your travel and for the delay in dealing with your refund request.
A spokesman says the firm had requested some extra details, which it had not yet received. You have now sent these and the money is back in your account.
I bought a £399 TV from Amazon in December 2015, but it has now stopped working.
I’m told it will cost more than £300 to repair, yet Amazon will only offer £150 towards the bill. It seems televisions just aren’t built to last these days.
A. V., by email
Under the Consumer Rights Act, the onus is on you to prove the television was faulty when you bought it, as it is more than six months since the sale.
If you cannot do this, Amazon is under no obligation to offer you a new one or pay for the repairs.
So you may want to consider taking the offer it has made.
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