In July last year, we hired a car with Europcar from Montpellier airport in France.
A couple of days later, we were involved in an accident leaving a motorway péage (toll booth). Cars leave ten or more lanes and return to three. Some drive as if it’s a drag race!
We signalled and returned to the slower lane, then took a direct hit from behind, from a much bigger vehicle. It was very frightening.
Holiday hell: A reader has been left waiting a year for his money back after being involved in a terrifying crash, that was not his fault on a motorway in France
We tried the emergency numbers but couldn’t get through to anyone who could help.
We pulled loose bits off the back of the car, such as the bumper, so we could get off the motorway.
Europcar took the vehicle away but couldn’t replace it, although the firm did provide a taxi to the airport.
At the airport we paid the £1,000 or so excess as per our agreement, but were assured this would be paid back to us when the insurance was sorted out. A year later, there is still no sign of the money being refunded.
C. S., Chapmanslade, Wilts.
I know what you mean about those péage exits. It’s not just a case of needing eyes in the back of your head — you need an extra pair on each elbow, too.
Europcar tells me that the delay was caused by a lack of response from the guilty party’s insurers. It has now refunded your money and apologised.
The firm also acknowledges that ‘the levels of communication with the customer were not to its usual high standard’.
It has paid £500 compensation by way of a more substantive apology.
You have YOUR say
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories.
Here are some about our article on the issues dogging the Government’s eco-friendly home improvements scheme.
This is chaotic, as there aren’t enough registered businesses available to do the work in such a short time-frame. It hasn’t been well-thought-out, and the deadline should be extended.
N. F., by email.
After I filled in the online questionnaire, I found out I qualified for a number of improvements.
The problem is my home is a listed property, so I’ll need consent to get insulation, for instance.
S. F., Worcestershire.
When I inquired about solar panels, a tradesman told me I could only have inferior panels installed through the scheme, which would only heat water. I’d have to pay full price for panels which provide electricity.
A. L., Essex.
I have had the same experience as those featured in the article. Every registered business I contacted wouldn’t do the work under the grant scheme. It’s just another gimmick.
M. P., by email.
This has been a complete waste of time. I needed a new boiler and double-glazed windows, but was told I didn’t qualify for the grant. The same thing has happened to several other people I know.
T. K., Rotherham, S. Yorks.
I’ve tried to apply for the scheme, but you have to get quotes from accredited tradespeople.
The nearest double-glazing fitters to me were in Swansea, Cardiff and Manchester.
K. H., Bristol.
We are restoring a derelict house and should be ideal candidates for a grant.
However, companies which told us they were part of this scheme withdrew from it after we had placed orders.
S. T., Dover, Kent.
My husband died in August last year aged 57, and then I had a stress-induced heart attack.
The Barclays mortgage and the house were both in my husband’s name, so I needed to progress with probate.
My experience dealing with Barclays has been shockingly bad. It’s like the bank has never dealt with a customer death before.
I provided it with a death certificate, and called numerous times for a mortgage valuation so I could get probate documents processed. The bereavement line is never answered.
Eventually, I called at the local Barclays branch, where a member of staff wrote the value on a Post-it note. He did not speak to me or look at me.
After probate I asked for a mortgage redemption statement. This was addressed to ‘Mr P. B., deceased and Mrs A. B., executor’. This form of address was also on subsequent letters.
Whoever thinks this is a good idea has no idea of how painful it is to keep seeing that in black and white.
I received further letters, including one saying there were overdue funds needing to be returned to me which turned out to be £1.86.
I couldn’t face dealing with this, so I ignored it.
I have just received an annual statement of fees at nil value addressed to my husband.
A. B., Haywards Heath, W. Sussex.
I sometimes wonder if anyone senior at our banks has been through a bereavement. Surely if they had, they would ensure bereaved customers were dealt with more sensitively.
Your letter lists a catalogue of insensitive treatment. To some extent it is not what Barclays has done, but how it has done it.
Is it really necessary to address a letter to a deceased person? I’m sure it is possible to send it directly to the executor and then refer to the deceased in the text of the letter.
The same goes for the £1.86. Why not just send you a cheque rather than writing to you about it?
Barclays has apologised for the errors it made, including requesting a death certificate after you had already sent one.
A spokesman says: ‘A review of the mortgage process following a bereavement will take place to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible for the customer.’
Straight to the point
My wife refuses to set up a will. What are the consequences if she doesn’t have one?
P. S., Cheshire.
If your wife dies first without a will the first £270,000 of her estate will go to you, along with any property held jointly, according to Rachael Gooding, of law firm Slater and Gordon.
The remainder will be divided between you and any children – who may have to pay inheritance tax of up to 40 per cent if their legacy exceeds the threshold. If you die first, your estate will be distributed as specified in your will.
Our family gave my wife and I a Virgin Experience Days voucher as a Christmas present last year, entitling us to a meal at a Brasserie Blanc restaurant.
We booked the Bournemouth branch for March 27 but this was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The voucher has now expired and we cannot get through to Virgin to extend it.
D. B., Hants.
You warned Virgin that you would be contacting me and it duly sprung into action. It extended the voucher and you have now rebooked for November 1.
The Co-Operative Bank has not explained a £109 unauthorised transaction on my credit card.
It has refunded me and sent me a replacement card, but I have received no call from the fraud team or goodwill gesture to apologise for the resultant worry.
G. S., Dartford.
The bank says the fraudulent payment was dealt with swiftly but you could have been better informed.
At this stage it does not know how the fraud happened, but it has raised a complaint on your behalf.
TUI gave us a £500 gift card so we could book another holiday after our July trip was cancelled.
We booked a cruise for next May and were told to send the card to its Swansea office. Why has Tui still not applied the discount to our booking?
A. C., Bristol.
You sent the card by special delivery and it was signed for, but Tui has no record of receiving it. It has apologised for the mix-up and applied the discount to your trip.
I have been a Sky customer for more than 25 years. The fees were increasing so I phoned and was offered a reduction from £106 to £74 per month.
The next month my direct debit went back up to £95.73, so I decided to cancel it.
Sky wrote asking for new direct debit details, so I sent a letter explaining why I had cancelled.
I have not received a response, but have had a letter threatening that my debt will be passed to a collection agency. The amount demanded has also increased to £106 again.
R. G., Slaidburn, Lancs.
I can understand the frustration caused by rising bills, and I also find it irritating that some firms refuse to engage in postal discussions.
Not everyone is comfortable talking on the phone or via the internet, especially more mature people who may have hearing, sight or coordination difficulties.
However, it seems that several attempts were made to discuss your account.
Sky Sports was paused, but you hung up before the process was completed, so the bill increased again.
Sky apologises for the difficulties you faced. It has closed your account and written off the £116 outstanding — made up of £106 plus a £10 late payment fee.
I wish to make two points. First, arbitrarily cancelling a direct debit can lead to late payment fees, disputes and debt letters.
Second, it is not reasonable to be abusive towards someone who is doing their best to help and may be on a relatively low wage.
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