S.G. writes: I purchased a Rolex online for £9,000. The seller had arranged payment through PayPal so we were both protected, he said.
I called PayPal and it confirmed I would be fully protected if anything went wrong. The watch turned out to be counterfeit and the seller immediately went to ground.
PayPal said it had frozen the payment, but demanded proof from Trading Standards or Rolex that the watch was fake. I supplied both, but got no refund.
Fake: One reader purchased a counterfeit Rolex online for £9,000
Tony Hetherington replies: You seem to have been going round in circles as the goalposts were shifted. You told me PayPal insisted you get a crime number, so you reported the scam to Action Fraud, got a crime number, and gave it to PayPal.
But PayPal then decided that Action Fraud – which is an offshoot of the City of London Police – was not acceptable. You had to get a new crime number from your local police station. You got this, but it still was not enough. PayPal’s next demand was for a ‘seizure document’ from Trading Standards or the police. This would guarantee a refund, you were promised.
You arranged this with your local authority’s Trading Standards Office in Milton Keynes and told PayPal, but the next day you received an email saying this was again not enough. Worse was to come. The left hand at PayPal then started disagreeing with the right hand.
While one person at the company was insisting that you return the fake watch to the seller, another was telling you to keep it as evidence it was counterfeit. As I pointed out to PayPal, if the seller was indeed a crook, he would likely deny ever having received the watch if you returned it. Or, he could claim that the watch you returned was not the same as the watch he supplied. Either way, you would then be without both the watch and the £9,000.
A final twist in the tale came when Trading Standards pointed out that as Rolex had confirmed the watch was a fake, if PayPal released your money to the fraudster, this could be regarded as money laundering, which is an offence in itself. I asked officials at PayPal to look into all of this. It told me: ‘We never ask a buyer to return goods when we have been given proof they were counterfeit.’
Let down: Ryanair is currently investigating a phone call one reader had with a ‘rude employee’
It said it received that proof from Trading Standards on May 30. Now, I am not sure what proof that was exactly since I have seen a statement sent to PayPal by Trading Standards as long ago as March 26. It confirmed Rolex itself had judged the watch to be a fake. No matter, though. The important thing is that PayPal has now refunded the £9,000 back to the credit card you used. It has also made a goodwill credit of £100 to your PayPal account. Perhaps it might be best to avoid buying expensive second-hand watches.
Why have my tax letters been ignored for months?
S.T. writes: My tax office asked me to obtain official confirmation from the Department for Work & Pensions showing the amount of my state pension for the tax years 2016-17 and 2017-18. I wrote to the department, giving my own calculations, but received no reply. I wrote again a month later and then again a month after that. But I still received no reply. A month later I submitted a written complaint, but I received no reply to this either. I am 83 years old and can do without these problems.
Tony Hetherington replies: It really is frustrating to have one Government department asking you to get information from another one, only to find that the second department simply ignores you, even when you complain.
Learn from mistakes: The finance agreement should not have been set up
You contacted the DWP in Wolverhampton, so I asked officials at its head office in London what had gone wrong. They told me they regret that you were ignored for four months, but failed to explain why. They have assured me you now have a written answer confirming that the pension figures held by your tax office are correct.
I received nothing from Ryanair over cancelled flight…except an insult
Mrs M.B. writes: After booking flights with Ryanair to Ibiza last September, we had to cancel as my husband was admitted to hospital to have a pacemaker fitted. I sent all the documentation Ryanair requested to obtain a refund and received an emailed acknowledgement. Since then there has been nothing. I telephoned but was fobbed off by a rude employee who told me it was not possible to contact customer services by phone because, ‘Who would want to listen to that all day? Anyone can make up a plausible story.’
Tony Hetherington replies: Ryanair was concerned at the way you were treated when you called. I have given the airline the contact number you rang so this can be investigated. As for your refund Ryanair agrees you cancelled your flight and requested a refund, but it says you were asked to complete a claim form and failed to do this. You have told me that you submitted the claim form at least three times along with a copy of a doctor’s note about your husband’s illness. After I asked the airline to look into this, it emailed you to say the refund would go ahead. You have now received £233.
I never agreed to be guarantor on policy
M.H. writes: My son was learning to drive and was insured on a learner policy with Adrian Flux Insurance Services. I was paying monthly for this, and part of the policy was that it would be cancelled once he passed his test. He did pass and the policy was cancelled, but when he took out a new policy he found he could not have a monthly payment plan as he is only 17. Adrian Flux then put me down as guarantor and opened a finance agreement in my name, without my signature or consent. It says they are allowed to do this, but is it legal?
Tony Hetherington replies: THE answer of course is no. You cannot be held to a finance agreement that you never authorised. But you told me that when you protested to Adrian Flux, you were informed that the Financial Conduct Authority was aware of this practice, and if you cancelled the cover it would cost £486.
I do not believe the regulator would ever accept this, but it does not matter now as the insurer has told me there has been ‘a simple misunderstanding’. It seems that when your son took out his new policy, your details were mistakenly transferred over from the old policy. The company told me that naming you as ‘guarantor’ was ‘incorrect and a human error’. The agreement has been scrapped and Adrian Flux has made a goodwill offer which you have accepted.