Ms E.D. writes: I am treasurer of a local Royal British Legion club with flats above it. I contacted Scottish Power in February last year when a tenant disappeared owing rent and I emailed meter readings.
A month later a new tenant moved in. Last June, a different tenant rang to say the flat was being broken into and when I arrived a man produced a warrant issued on behalf of ScottishPower.
He agreed there had been a mistake but when the new tenant got home from work he could not get into his flat and I had to call out a locksmith. I am still waiting for Scottish Power to pay the bill.
Why did it take almost a year until Scottish Power was able to issue a refund to me?
If you were paid by the hour for the time you have spent trying to get ScottishPower just to pay the Royal British Legion club for the damage it caused, then you would probably be worth a small fortune.
The contractor, who was breaking into the flat by drilling out the lock, had been given details of the previous tenant, who had vanished. ScottishPower knew this, but it seems its paperwork had not caught up with the facts. It instructed a local contractor to break in, remove the existing meter and install a pay-as-you-go meter.
Immediately after the forced entry, you telephoned ScottishPower repeatedly but could not get past its call centre. It was impossible to speak to the same person twice, so you had to explain what had happened over and over again. In the end, you had to get a locksmith out and pay him.
Then the fun really started. You complained in writing and on the phone up until last September – three months after the damage was done. But ScottishPower refused to discuss the matter with you because you were not the tenant. Even when the new tenant sent a helpful letter, the power company still ignored you.
Finally, in November, you found a sympathetic ear at Scottish Power’s headquarters. You were told a cheque for £129 would be on its way to reimburse you for the cost of the new lock, but the cheque never arrived. Scottish Power said it would issue a new cheque but that failed to arrive as well, so you contacted me.
When I stepped in you were immediately called by ScottishPower and told that the latest cheque must have arrived because it had been cashed in February. More weeks passed while ScottishPower checked with its bank and eventually admitted that your £129 had been sent to the new tenant. He assumed this was compensation for shutting him out of his home and he banked it.
That brought us up to last month, when ScottishPower told me it would not be asking for its money back from the tenant and it had issued a fresh cheque to you. Except, unbelievably, the fresh cheque never arrived. I went back to the company and found it had never been posted.
Finally, last Tuesday, your Royal British Legion club got its cheque, plus £50 on top to make up for the inconvenience. As you told me: ‘It doesn’t seem a great deal of money, but for clubs such as ours, run mainly by volunteers and goodwill, every penny counts.’
Quite right – but after 51 weeks of waiting, I still bet you wish you had been paid by the hour.
Our room at the Hotel Hesperia in Playa Dorada in Tenerife was directly above a concert room where there was construction work
Building work at hotel ruined our £3,000 trip
I.H. writes: After a year in which I suffered major health problems and my partner was recovering from breast cancer surgery, I decided we needed a peaceful holiday. I paid £3,000 to book a ‘deluxe’ trip with First Choice, part of the TUI Group.
However, our room at the Hotel Hesperia in Playa Dorada in Tenerife was directly above a concert room where there was construction work, with a pneumatic drill hammering away, making it impossible to rest. TUI must have known, as other guests said they had been relocated to different parts of the hotel. Back home, I contacted TUI but heard nothing.
I phoned and was asked to resubmit my complaint, which I did. I have even written to the managing director, but I am still waiting for a meaningful reply.
Building work at hotels has been a major source of holidaymakers’ complaints for years. Most travel companies warn customers ahead of travel and relocate them or offer a decent price cut.
What went wrong here, TUI says, is that it had no advance warning. The company explained: ‘Unfortunately, our hotel partner only brought the building works to our attention once Mr H’s party was already in the resort.’ TUI would contact you to apologise and offer recompense, I was told.
So far, so good. But then things became weird. You told me TUI had not in fact been in touch and no recompense had been offered. When I queried this, TUI refused to go into details because it said you had complained to the Association of British Travel Agents. ‘We now need to respond via them,’ TUI told me.
The picture painted by TUI was that it had to respect ABTA’s procedures. Yet a fortnight ago I reported the case of a different customer, injured on board a TUI cruise ship. In that case, the company refused to deal with ABTA and has challenged the injured pensioner to sue in court.
I told TUI this made no sense. Whether this made any difference, I do not know. But TUI suddenly contacted you and agreed to refund £1,000. You have said you are confident The Mail on Sunday’s involvement was the key to the refund.
You are probably right, but it is disheartening that TUI seems able to pick and choose which of ABTA’s complaints cases it will respect.
We’re watching you…
The boss of a London-based currency trading scam exposed by The Mail on Sunday three years ago has been jailed for six years in Dublin after British authorities took no action against him.
Jonathan Chubb, 38, was the sole director of WiseFX Europe Limited. He marketed a computer program with the claim that customers had used it to notch up a 121 per cent return on foreign exchange investments.
Advertisements included an article from the Aberdeen Press & Journal that appeared to praise the software. But I warned this was really a paid-for advert in the paper, dressed up to look like a news story. I also revealed that Chubb had a criminal record after pleading guilty to stealing £6,300. While working for a lettings agency he diverted tenants’ rents to his own bank account.
Chubb has now pleaded guilty in Dublin to 34 counts of theft, four counts of deception, six charges of having a forged driving licence and one charge of money laundering. He admitted that he gave customers of WiseFX his bank details, supposedly for currency trading and stole about £18,000.
The court heard that Chubb had 12 previous convictions for fraud and theft. A report said he had a ‘difficult upbringing’ as his father Noel was absent. His father was serving a prison sentence for manslaughter. Chubb’s younger brother Gareth was cleared in Amsterdam last year of attempting to shoot a man in a drugs dispute, but was jailed for six months for possessing a loaded gun.
At an earlier hearing, Jonathan Chubb told the court that despite his criminal record, he was working as a salesman for Paymentsense, a London company in the credit card industry. Paymentsense – which is fully authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority – did not respond to invitations to comment.
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