Belfast Telegraph

'I got no refund after missing my airline connection'

I booked flights from Belfast to Denpasar in Bali through Mark One Travel in Hounslow. I was to depart Belfast on a British Midland flight, leaving at 5pm and arriving at London Heathrow terminal 1 at 6.20pm.

My China Airlines flight departed at 9pm from terminal 4. BMI changed the departure time to 6pm and the flight was delayed on the day by a further 30 minutes. This meant I missed my China Airlines flight. The travel agent did not give me enough time for the connection and I should have been put on an earlier flight. Having missed my flight I had to stay in London for two days and buy a new flight to Bali with Qatar Airlines. The agent asked me to sign a form to enable him to obtain a refund, which I have not received despite weekly phone calls. I have tried to claim on my travel insurance, but the insurer insists that three hours must be allowed between landing and take-off for connecting flights. RK

ABTA - the Association of British Travel Agents - says that problems like this should not be possible. A spokesman explains: "Agents use a 'global distribution system'. The system will provide minimum connection times, but they are not set in stone. There is a minimum of two hours, where it is the same terminal, or a bit longer for a different terminal at the same airport. These are not legal requirements." In your case, there was insufficient time for you to make the transfer and the boarding gate was closed by the time you crossed from terminals 1 to 4. ABTA says insurers will sometimes permit a two-hour connection time, but not where this involves flights arriving and departing from different terminals. Your insurer was therefore justified in rejecting your claim. Mark One Travel accepts your claim and is making a payment into your travelling companion's bank account. The processing of the claim was delayed because receipt copies sent by you were apparently lost in the post.

On checking my credit card account I discovered that CPP has been automatically debiting my credit card for the last 11 years for an ID card protection policy, while sending policy renewal letters to an address that I moved from in 2000. My cards don't seem to have been protected at all, being registered at the incorrect address! I phoned CPP twice, but no advice was given about making a complaint, no refund was offered and no policy cancellation letter has arrived. EH

A spokesman for CPP says: "It seems the fault resides with CPP." Accordingly, a cheque for £257.99 is being sent to you. The spokesman adds: "In May 2001 we were alerted to a change of address and then the address details reverted back to those first registered with CPP. We can find no explanation as to why this happened and we can only deduce it was a system error. As a consequence, (the reader's) renewal notifications were sent to her old address." As is common practice amongst insurers, the company automatically renews policies when they reach their end. The company explains: "To give the best possible service to our customers, all our policies automatically renew and we provide full details of this process in the policy terms and conditions. We adopt this approach to ensure we maintain continuous protection for our customers."

My wife received a letter to Bank of Ireland bondholders in June giving options of accepting or rejecting an offer to redeem the bonds at a value of between £160 and £200 per 1,000 bonds. Those who vote against will get zilch. What upsets me is that although these are described as subordinated bonds, they were originally issued in 2003 by the Bristol and West Building Society as PIBS (permanent interest bearing shares) with a value of £3,695. HE

The Bank of Ireland bought the Bristol and West Building Society in 1997. The PIBS shares in Bristol and West were then treated by Bank of Ireland as bonds. Interest on the bonds was paid by Bank of Ireland, but the financial crisis caused the bank to seek to substantially reduce the value of subordinated bonds. However, a campaign by holders of bonds and former Bristol and West PIBS led to the Bank of Ireland withdrawing the proposal affecting your wife's holding. The Bank of Ireland says that a further proposal will be issued at some point in the future. We share your concern that shares issued by a highly rated British building society could end up as subordinated bonds in an Irish bank that had eventually to be rescued by the Irish government.


From Belfast Telegraph