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My passport was destroyed in this comedy of errors

Question: Applying for a Bank of Scotland credit card, I sent my passport, along with a bank statement, off to HBoS by recorded delivery. This was weeks ago and I still have not had my passport returned, or a proper answer to my letters of complaint. I had been due to go abroad in October and I am very disappointed as I am no longer able to do so. It is inconvenient and upsetting to not have my passport. KR, by email.

Answer: HBoS was unable to reconcile your passport with your credit card application - and so, amazingly, destroyed your passport!

A spokeswoman for HBoS explains: "In the first instance [the reader's] passport was delivered to the incorrect department. This was then forwarded to the right department which processed it for ID checks.

"When the passport was sent on for it to be scanned, the accompanying documentation went missing. This resulted in the passport being filed in the mail services department for more than two months.

"After two months and with the passport unclaimed, mail services, who had been storing it, returned it to the passport office where we believe it has been destroyed.

"As a result of the mistakes that were made in storing the passport rather than trying to identify who it belonged to, we admit that the service we have provided is not of the standard we expect."

In all the years of this column we cannot recall another incident of such complete service failure. HBoS offers you compensation of £400 for the "distress and inconvenience" this has caused you.

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If you have cancelled travel arrangements as a result of this failure by HBoS, we strongly advise you to claim for the costs of that in addition to the £400. Not surprisingly, HBoS has also told its passport office it should improve its service standards and take additional steps to trace a customer before destroying such an important document.

Question:I booked a hotel room for the Labour Party conference in Manchester. But Lastminute.com sold me a hotel that was not in the location advertised. The hotel was not in central Manchester as advertised, nor in the location shown on their map, but is nearer Salford. Lastminute's excuse was that it could not get a refund from Holiday Inn, and so could not help me. I have emailed Lastminute.com several times, but have not received a response. JS, by email.

Answer: Lastminute.com accepts that its website map was wrong and misleading. It has now corrected the website and fully refunded you.

Question: My grandmother wanted to pay my brother's T-Mobile bill using her credit card. The card issuer saw this as unusual activity and reported it as fraud, cancelled the transaction and claimed the payment back from T-Mobile. T-Mobile then barred my brother's telephone and mobile number for suspected fraud and demanded £560 - representing the account balance, plus the charge for the rest of the contract period. My gran is nearly 90. T-Mobile has now sent debt collectors to my brother's home. He is disabled and needs the phone, but doesn't have the money to pay the bill. We have spent months trying to sort this out. RH, London.

Answer: T-Mobile has agreed to write off the balance on your brother's account and the debt collectors have been told to take no action.


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