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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my own blog.
Q: . I am 75 years old I have £45,000 in a one-year savings bond, which I have not touched since I retired 16 years ago. The money is in my wife's name as she does not pay tax. Is there any problem with this? I take a small income from this each month. Have you any other ideas of what to do with my savings?
A: The answer to your first question is no, since money is usually interchangeable between husbands and wives without any liability to tax. And you raise an interesting point that may be useful for other readers. If you have a situation where one side of a partnership is a tax payer (whether standard or higher rate) and the other side is not (or pays tax at a lower rate) then it usually makes sense for any money held on deposit to be in the name of the non, or lower rated taxpayer. As for your second question then assuming you want to keep the money on deposit and not take the risk associated with a trip into the equity market, it is a case of looking for the highest rate of interest that you can find tax efficiently.
Q: I hope you can be of assistance to me. The problem I have is with DFS, Paisley. My daughter bought a couch from them which cost £970. She paid for it on her debit card. The couch is a two seater which can recline. The following are complaints I have against it. The cushions on the back of the couch are not level. The back of the couch is not level. The pads on the arms of the couch are different lengths. The stitching on the front cushions is not even. The seats are different shades. She complained to the manager at Paisley who sent a man out to check it. He said he could find nothing wrong with it. He took the back cushions off to check it. Now it's worse than it was originallly. I politely asked him if I could exchange it for another, even having to pay more. His retort was "no chance". What a way to treat a customer? I forgot to say it was delivered by two men in a white van who assembled it, when I questioned this with the manager, he said he just uses them when they have a lot of deliveries. I asked if they were qualified fitters and his reply was no.
A: This is an interesting case because after I spoke with DFS thy told me that everyone who had seen the settee couldn't find anything wrong with it at all, and that the 'faults' that you mention are not really faults but just the 'way it is'. They also said that the couch in the store that you looked at was exactly the same as the one you bought, and in fact had the same 'faults'. I have to say that in a previous existence as a consumer champion on Woman's Own magazine I think I received more complaints about sofas than anything else. There is a huge variation of materials and styles and sometimes what looks like a fault is really just the way the material settles down once you start to use it. Having said all of that DFS tell me that they are not keen on having unhappy customers and I'm glad to say that after I got involved they have agreed to allow you to choose another sofa.
Q: My daughter's return flight Glasgow to London Heathrow was cancelled by BA due to "storms occurring over London Heathrow airport". At the time she was advised by customer services she was entitled to a full refund. She was offered a later flight which would have meant her arriving at University of Oxford at 2am approximately. She declined. When she enquired about a refund for said cancellation on the British Airways website three days later as advised, British Airways asserted that they were under no obligation to refund/compensate according to European Union legislation. How should she proceed? (Lorna Hooper)
A: First the good news, and that is that after raising your concerns with British Airways they have agreed to let your daughter have her money back. I think that the confusion over your daughter being told different things by two different people stems from the first paragraph from BA website:
•Re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to the final destination of the ticket presented at check-in at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability; or
•A refund payable to the person who purchased the ticket. This applies to the part or parts of the journey not flown.
As I understand it your daughter couldn't wait until the next flight after the one she was offered and then decided to make her own arrangements. Someone obviously thought that this invalidated her rights under the first paragraph, but you'll see that she should have been able to ask for a refund under the second point above anyway! British airways didn't tell me why the second member of staff refused a refund but as I said I think it must be to do with the fact that as far as they were concerned they had offered an alternative initially that your daughter refused. But, as I said at the start, BA has now agreed so refund so all's well that ends well!