Belfast Telegraph

'We feel let down over insurance nightmare'

Question: Our daughter visited India last year to stay with a friend. She enquired about travel insurance through several providers, including our bank, HSBC.

Two days before she was to leave the UK we received the travel insurance details from HSBC and paid the premium. When we told our daughter, she explained she had refused the quote from our bank and accepted a better alternative. We told HSBC that we felt misled, as it knew our daughter had not accepted its offer. HSBC refused to refund the premium until our daughter cancelled the insurance, which she did and the premium was refunded.

In September we received a letter from the bank's debt collection department claiming an amount the same as the cancelled insurance premium. We replied, suggesting a possible mistake. Several weeks later we received another letter from our bank giving us seven days from the date of the letter to pay the outstanding debt, otherwise the debt would be handed over to a debt collection agency.

Our daughter visited a HSBC branch and it was agreed there had been a mistake. A week later we received a demand from a debt collection agency. Our daughter went back to the branch and we now have a letter from our bank which states that there is no longer an outstanding debt. But we have lost confidence in HSBC and have not received an apology. AB

Answer: The policy was processed by the insurer, Aviva, after you made the payment to HSBC. When it was recognised that your daughter did not want the policy, a refund was processed in November 2010. However, in error this refund was paid twice. Consequently, HSBC was correct in asking for £47.26 - equivalent to the premium - to be refunded. But neither Aviva nor HSBC explained to you why you were being asked to make this payment. When the problem was recognised by Aviva, the sum was written off - although again you were not notified. HSBC suggests you may wish to donate the £47.26 to a charity of your choice. It has sent you a case of wine as an apology.

Question: We have a dispute with Npower about energy supplied between October 2010 and October 2011. I contacted Npower last February asking why we had not been billed. We then received a bill for £304.09 which we paid in full. We also paid the May bill for £89.87. We questioned the estimated bill of £183.06 for September and asked Npower for an accurate reading as we were moving out in October. We took a reading, notified Npower and tried to get a bill agreed. At the end of October our amended bill arrived for £700.78. We are willing to pay half this bill, but we believe Npower is unreasonable to ask us to pay more. TB

Answer: Before you raised this with us, Npower offered to write off £100 of the bill. After we contacted the firm this was raised to £150. It refused to write-off the £350 you requested and we were going to suggest you refer the matter to the Energy Ombudsman. After a review of your account Npower has agreed to reduce the amount owed by £350. The balance has been recalculated as £782.21, leaving you £432.21 to pay.