Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Holiday hopes turned to misery as firm collapsed

I booked a holiday in spring last year using flights with Goldtrail, which collapsed last summer. We have been waiting ever since for the refund. It was difficult for us to know how much the flights cost, as they were lumped together with the hotel and a cruise, booked through a travel agent.

The holiday deposit was £775.20, which we paid in April by credit card, and the balance of £2,296 was paid on June 14 by cheque. We had to pay an extra £1,196 in July for replacement flights. SM

In July last year I bought two return air tickets to Bodrum, Turkey, flying with Goldtrail and booked through a travel agency. Two days later, Goldtrail went bust. The agency insisted I had to wait for my refund to come through Atol, which I was promised would take 12 to 16 weeks. More than six months later, I am still waiting. The travel agency has been uncontactable and offered no guidance on when I might receive a refund. The total cost of the flights was £524.28, and has been on my 22% APR credit card since.

As well as the refund for the flights, I want the CAA to pay for the interest I have had to pay on the cancelled flights. OM.

When Goldtrail collapsed, PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed administrator, but refunds were the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority under the terms of Goldtrail's Atol bonding.

Claims to the CAA must be processed via the travel agency - which caused problems for both readers. The CAA said it would normally process refund claims more quickly than with the Goldtrail collapse.

It explains: "Goldtrail's failure was unusual: it is rare for a travel operator to go into administration at the height of the summer, which unfortunately meant more people than usual were affected.

"The Atol scheme is unlike an insurance policy: the funds available is public money held by the Air Travel Trust. Therefore a sufficient amount of evidence is needed to support a claim in order to validate it and pay it. If a claim is incomplete, with items such as receipts and proof of payments missing, the process can be slowed significantly as we try to establish the validity of the claim."

I have been charged high fees by Smile bank. It initially charged me £30 for a failed direct debit payment to my mortgage lender, First Active, which charged me an additional £25. I have two accounts with Smile, each with a fee-free overdraft of £500. My mortgage is paid by monthly direct debit on the first of each month.

At 8.30am on February 1, I logged into Smile internet banking. My first account had a negative balance of £700 because my mortgage direct debit had been processed. I immediately transferred funds from my other Smile account. I am angry with Smile as presumably it reclaimed the direct debit during business hours on February 1, by when there were sufficient cleared funds in my account. ST.

The Co-operative Bank, which owns the Smile brand, says the direct debit payment was returned to your account on February 1 because there were insufficient funds in your account. "Although [the reader] transferred funds into his current account on February 1, our terms and conditions make it clear that sufficient funds should be available at 9pm the working day before a payment is due to be made," the bank said.

Smile has waived your £30 fee because it will not invoke charges where a customer exceeds their limit once in a year. However, it does not accept it made an error, so it will not refund the charge from the mortgage company.

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