Fergus Muirhead answers your consumer questions
I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm here to answer any questions you may have about any money or consumer issues.
Please drop me a line here at email@example.com with your questions.
You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my own blog.
Q: I know that next week you're talking about consumer issues, but I wanted to ask you about the safety of our savings which unfortunately are all with HBOS in some form or another. With the problems of the Euro still to the fore, does the £50,000 government compensation scheme still apply or is there a safer place for our savings. My wife and I are both in our late sixties and are getting more worried as the days go by. (Alex Smith)
A: You don't say how much you have in HBOS but the good news for you is that the Government increased the level of deposit savings covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to £85,000 at the end of last year. That amount is per firm per claim, so other readers may have to be careful if they have money in two banks with different names but that are part of the same group and operate under one licence since the £85,000 may only be payable once.
Q: I live in the Yoker area of Glasgow and at the end of last year I had a sky dish installed in my flat. However recently it has stopped working. If there is cloud or it rains (as it does a lot on the west coast of Scotland) I lose most of my sky channels. I have spoken to the company about this issue however they wanted £110 to come and look at the fault. The dish is under warranty so I feel that I should not have to pay this fee even if it will be refunded if it is found to be a fault covered by warranty. I have since contacted an independent engineer for advice. The engineer stated that it is the LNB that needs replaced and that the dish the company installed was not a new dish when installed. I can believe this as this dish went rusty within about a month of being installed. I have since contacted the company to tell them what the independent engineer said, however they said they are unable to take the advice of other installers and that now it would be £55 for them to look at the dish. (Scott Bain)
A: Firstly can I say that I have spoken to the company involved and they are going to send out one of their senior engineers to have a look at your installation and hopefully resolve any problems. But you do raise a couple of interesting points. The first is that the company want to charge you to come out and assess the work that needs done on your installation. They told me that this is because they were getting so many calls that were not 'warranty' calls that they introduced a charge, refundable if the work that needs to be done on your installation is because it wasn't done properly to begin with. It's not ideal, and I would argue that they have a responsibility to come out anyway if they provided a service that isn't up to scratch but in your case they are coming anyway! The second issue, and one where you have to take care, is when you invite another 'expert' out to look at the work carried out by a third party. It's fine if they are only coming to have a look but if you allow anyone else to do any work on your installation then it may invalidate your warranty.
Q: Please see below my original e-mail to the FSA, and their response. I cannot tell from this response whether they are actually taking the case up for me or not. I understand from what they say in their e-mail, that they are not allowed to disclose details of action they are taking, but surely they could at least tell me if they are taking action? I have been trying to get this pension with the Prudential sorted out since my 60th birthday, last January. I thought the FSA were there to help consumers, but I am just sitting here in limbo, not knowing if anything is being done or not. I had an e-mail from a company who were engaged by the FSA to do a consumer survey on the service that the FSA gave. I have contacted Alice Large at alice.large@IFF Research.com and also spoken to her on the phone, to see if she could put me on to someone at the FSA. She said she would get someone there to telephone me, but all I got was a replica of the e-mail the FSA originally sent me. I am finding this very stressful as I am going round in circles getting nowhere. Please help. (Mrs Jill Williams)
A: I Haven't attached the email you received from the FSA since if I had there would be no room for anything else on this page. It was a big pile of gobbledygook and as you rightly say it left you not knowing whether they are going to help you or not. And it's a shame because they could have been much clearer in their communication with you. The bottom line is that they may investigate Prudential but if they do it won't be to help you but instead it will be in their capacity as the body that regulates and oversees regulated companies, of which Prudential is one. If you are unhappy with something you bought then the steps you have to take are straightforward. Firstly you have to complain to Prudential and there is a strictly laid down timetable for that complaint to be resolved. If it's not resolved then you should go the financial ombudsman at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm since that is the body that investigates individual complaints from consumers. I don't understand why the email from FSA didn't just explain that to you!
Q: I signed up and paid for a tuition course, shortly before the course began the location was changed. The location was further away from my home address and as a result I was not able to attend. I went to the first class to test the journey out but due to extra travel time and extra petrol cost it was not feasible for me to continue. I have requested a refund and have been offered a part refund. Should I accept this or would I be able to gain a full refund? (Victoria Pipe)
A: I think that the answer to this would be determined by what was in any contract you signed. It could be, for example, that the contact contained a clause allowing the company to change the location of the training course if required. There may also be a clause that suggests that you would not be entitled to a refund once the course had started, or perhaps only in special circumstances like illness. So without seeing the contract it is difficult to give you an absolutely definitive answer but it may be that a part-refund is more than the company is contractually obliged to offer you. I would suggest that you have a look at the contract details and decide whether to accept or not on the basis of what you see there. Forward the contract to me if you are able and I will have a look at it for you.