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TONY HETHERINGTON: I paid £799 for travel insurance for just one trip

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tony hetherington i paid 799 for travel insurance for just one trip

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

Ms J.H. writes: I bought a multi-trip annual travel insurance policy from Staysure last October. We had a holiday last December, but when the Government advised against all travel, I hoped Staysure would give a partial refund. 

I did explain that as we are elderly and my husband is losing his sight, 2020 would be the last year we could travel. 

However, the only option offered was to pay immediately for a new policy for next year and get 15 months of cover instead of one year. 

No refund: Staysure was only prepared to give three extra months’ cover

No refund: Staysure was only prepared to give three extra months’ cover

Last year, when you paid £799 for your Staysure policy, you had no idea that you would have just one holiday. You had planned more trips, including a cruise, before your husband’s eyesight fades further. 

Instead, you have ended up paying a fortune for travel insurance but been unable to travel. When lockdowns began and the Government officially advised against all travel, the Financial Conduct Authority made clear to insurers they had to treat customers fairly and take the pandemic into account. 

I do not think hanging on to this year’s premiums in full – while not being at risk of paying out – can be regarded as fair. 

And suppose you did write off your £799 and fork out the same again for next year, with Staysure chucking in a bonus three months of cover to sweeten the pot? What would happen then, if the pandemic continued into 2021? Would Staysure pocket another year’s premiums for no risk, and then ask you to pay again for 2022? 

Staysure has told me that it has offered a range of options to annual and single-trip policyholders, including for single-trip customers the option to postpone at no extra cost or accept a voucher to be used against a new policy at any time in the next three years. 

And to give the insurer its due, it has included Covid cancellation cover and medical treatment, and repatriation if a policyholder catches the virus while on holiday. 

What it did not offer, though, was a refund of any of your £799. 

It is going to refund £100 as a gesture of goodwill after learning of your husband’s failing eyesight. Of course, this still leaves you with a travel policy that has cost £699 for one holiday.

Well, that has changed, but only a little. Staysure told me: ‘We do review each case on an individual basis.’ 

It is going to refund £100 as a gesture of goodwill after learning of your husband’s failing eyesight. Of course, this still leaves you with a travel policy that has cost £699 for one holiday. 

I do not think this is fair, so I asked the FCA to comment. Staff at the watchdog pointed me towards guidance they had issued to all insurers, saying: ‘Customers should expect value from the products they buy, and this is particularly important in the current period of economic uncertainty.’ 

You may have expected value from Staysure, but I cannot see that you got it. 

Not surprisingly, you will not be stumping up the cash for a new policy. In your shoes, I would not be reaching for my cheque book either. 

With no guarantee of holidays for the foreseeable future, it would be too much like pouring hundreds of pounds down a drain that had swallowed loads of cash already.

£896 bill for a firm I do not own

A.H. writes: British Gas has been sending me electricity bills for four newly built properties that I do not own. 

The bills are addressed to a limited company which I had not even heard of before. On top of this, I am not even a British Gas customer.

I complained, and finally British Gas told me everything had been sorted out, but now I have received a bill for £896. 

Mix up: British Gas has apologised, and A.H. has accepted its offer of £50 to make up for the obvious worry

Mix up: British Gas has apologised, and A.H. has accepted its offer of £50 to make up for the obvious worry

According to Companies House, there is no such company as the one that is supposed to be based at your home. However, I did find one with a similar name, not far away, but its records show no connection to you. 

I asked British Gas to explain what had happened, and it appears the property company changed address, and your address was wrongly entered in its place. A spokesman told me: ‘We’re sorry for the letters being sent to Mr H as a result of an incorrect forwarding address. 

‘We have now put things right and updated our records.’ 

British Gas has apologised, and you have accepted its offer of £50 to make up for the obvious worry.

Fake charge…from the Indian Ocean

R.F. writes: I have received an email, supposedly from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, imposing a penalty for failure to pay a road charge. 

I think this is a scam, as the penalty notice does not include my car’s registration number or say where the so-called infringement happened, and we have not travelled anywhere that applies a charge for using the roads. 

Well-written: The scam email supposedly from HM Courts and Tribunals Service

Well-written: The scam email supposedly from HM Courts and Tribunals Service

The penalty notice looks official and is better written than most fake demands, but you are absolutely right, it is a scam. You are told that the penalty is £50, reduced to £25 if you pay at once, but doubled if you fail to pay within 28 days. 

There is also the threat of court action. There is no address on the penalty notice, and the phone number it displays is out of service. You are asked to click on a link and give your credit or debit card details to make the payment. Needless to say, that would make as much sense as handing a burglar the keys to your house. 

The link leads to a payment website with an internet address ending .io

This is the suffix allocated to websites in the British Indian Ocean Territory, a group of tiny islands that are flyspecks on the map. Your £25 might have made some islander very happy, but it certainly would never have reached HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

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Top shareholder backs Boohoo chiefs amid call for founder to quit

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top shareholder backs boohoo chiefs amid call for founder to quit

Boohoo’s billionaire founder has been backed by his largest independent investor.

MPs called for Mahmud Kamani to step down as an executive director after an explosive report found illegally low pay and life-threatening conditions for workers in its Leicester clothes factories.

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall wrote to major shareholders – Jupiter, Invesco and Baillie Gifford – saying they must remove Kamani and chief executive John Lyttle.

MPs called for Boohoo's founder Mahmud Kamani to step down as an executive director after an explosive report found illegally low pay and life-threatening conditions for workers

MPs called for Boohoo's founder Mahmud Kamani to step down as an executive director after an explosive report found illegally low pay and life-threatening conditions for workers

MPs called for Boohoo’s founder Mahmud Kamani to step down as an executive director after an explosive report found illegally low pay and life-threatening conditions for workers

Jupiter, which owns a 9.6 per cent stake, rejected her call, but warned bosses to improve governance. 

In a letter seen by the Mail, Jupiter chief Nichola Pease said Jupiter expects problems to be fully addressed with ‘meaningful and permanent’ measures.

In August Kamani dismissed some of the allegations against it as ‘another lot of b******s’.

An independent probe found Kamani ‘covertly owns or controls many of the factories [in Leicester]’.

The Kamani family’s 18.6 per cent stake was worth £655million last night after the shares rose 5.5 per cent.

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Lexus on the charge: RAY MASSEY tests the new UX 300-e electric SUV

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lexus on the charge ray massey tests the new ux 300 e electric suv

The first Lexus battery-powered SUV is raring to go – with order books opening up at the start of the month.

Named the UX 300-e, the family- oriented off-roader comes in three grades: the standard UX priced from £40,900, Premium Plus Pack from £44,400 and the top-end Takumi Pack (which I tried) from £50,500.

Prices are after the Government’s £3,000 plug-in vehicle grant is taken off. One trick worth knowing is that the taxpayer-funded grant is normally capped at £50,000. 

Family friendly: The new Lexus UX 300-e - seen here in Celestial Blue - is the company's first fully electric vehicle

Family friendly: The new Lexus UX 300-e - seen here in Celestial Blue - is the company's first fully electric vehicle

Family friendly: The new Lexus UX 300-e – seen here in Celestial Blue – is the company’s first fully electric vehicle

But, as the standard UX 300-e costs less than that, customers are not penalised for adding the Takumi Pack (which bumps the gross pre-grant price up to £53,500).

So what’s it like to drive? Though technically it is a compact urban SUV, it feels roomy and high-riding. 

It’s sprightly enough and smooth, refined and well-balanced to drive. It whizzes along dual-carriageways and A-roads, and has a bit of poke thanks to its friction-free early electric acceleration. 

It’s quiet most of the time but with some road noise on uneven surfaces – maybe enhanced by the 18in wheels on my car’s trim level (17in is standard). 

Test run: Ray poses with the new Lexus which can be ordered from November 1 for deliveries in March

Test run: Ray poses with the new Lexus which can be ordered from November 1 for deliveries in March

Test run: Ray poses with the new Lexus which can be ordered from November 1 for deliveries in March

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34767314 8873267 image a 11 1603486073698

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34767310 8873267 image a 12 1603486077072

Plug in: The Lexus has two charging ports - one for a domestic wall-box, the other for a fast DC version. Charging to 80 per cent takes 50 minutes on a rapid charger or eight hours at home

Plug in: The Lexus has two charging ports - one for a domestic wall-box, the other for a fast DC version. Charging to 80 per cent takes 50 minutes on a rapid charger or eight hours at home

Plug in: The Lexus has two charging ports – one for a domestic wall-box, the other for a fast DC version. Charging to 80 per cent takes 50 minutes on a rapid charger or eight hours at home

Powered by a 150kW/204hp motor and 54.3kW battery, it goes from rest to 62mph in 7.5 seconds to a 100mph top speed. Total range is 196 miles, which is fine for commuters.

It has two charging ports – one for a domestic wall-box, the other for a fast DC commercial version. Charging to 80 per cent takes 50 minutes on a rapid charger or eight hours at home. 

People will love or hate the quirky infotainment touch-pad in the centre console, which gives a reassuring clunk when activated. 

People will love or hate the quirky infotainment touch-pad in the centre console, which gives a reassuring clunk when activated.

People will love or hate the quirky infotainment touch-pad in the centre console, which gives a reassuring clunk when activated.

People will love or hate the quirky infotainment touch-pad in the centre console, which gives a reassuring clunk when activated.

The boot is roomy enough for a small family’s luggage, with 367 litres of space before the rear seats are put down. 

Hi-tech kit includes a pre-collision system with night-time pedestrian protection.

First orders on November 1 will be delivered in March. By 2025, Lexus will have electric versions of all of its models.

Ex Morgan man’s one to watch 

There’s long been a close relationship between motor cars and watches.

Now car designer-turned- watchmaker Matthew Humphries – former chief designer at British sports car firm Morgan – is setting the pace with a new limited-edition £745 MHD Type 1 wristwatch, inspired by a 1920s Bugatti.

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34760968 8873267 image a 2 1603471778922

Classic lines: The £745 MHD Type 1 wristwatch is inspired by a 1920s Bugatti racing car

Classic lines: The £745 MHD Type 1 wristwatch is inspired by a 1920s Bugatti racing car

Classic lines: The £745 MHD Type 1 wristwatch is inspired by a 1920s Bugatti racing car

Former Morgan designer Matthew Humphries

Former Morgan designer Matthew Humphries

Former Morgan designer Matthew Humphries

Humphries became a designer for Morgan aged 21 and his credits include the AeroMax and Supersport cars.

He got into timepieces almost by accident when a Swiss firm asked him to design a watch. 

He enjoyed it so much he set up his own business in 2014.

Cars such as the Bugatti, three-litre Bentley and Zagato-bodied Alfa Romeo 8C have all been influences. 

He says: ‘I take my sketch pad with me everywhere, because you never know when something will inspire you.’

That includes often using seatbelt material for watch straps.

Veterans’ Brighton run cancelled

Unfortunately, the Royal Automobile Club has had to cancel the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, November 1, because of Covid-19. 

Chug-a-bug rally: The Royal Automobile Club has had to cancel the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, November 1

Chug-a-bug rally: The Royal Automobile Club has had to cancel the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, November 1

Chug-a-bug rally: The Royal Automobile Club has had to cancel the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, November 1

The event has run, uninterrupted, since 1947.

A little bit of me hopes that, in the never-give-up spirit of Genevieve, the 1953 film of the run, the club secretly sends a car out early – when no one’s awake – to maintain the unbroken thread.

Skoda sweeps the board 

Plaudits: Skoda's Octavia clinched best compact family car and best estate in the annual Auto Express Awards

Plaudits: Skoda's Octavia clinched best compact family car and best estate in the annual Auto Express Awards

Plaudits: Skoda’s Octavia clinched best compact family car and best estate in the annual Auto Express Awards

Skoda’s Octavia has been crowned Car of the Year in the annual motor industry ‘Oscars’. 

It also clinched best compact family car and best estate in the annual Auto Express Awards.

The Skoda Octavia Estate was also named Best Family Car in the rival Autocar awards.

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London Stock Exchange’s £20bn merger with Refinitiv delayed to 2021

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london stock exchanges 20bn merger with refinitiv delayed to 2021

The London Stock Exchange has admitted that its long-anticipated deal with Refinitiv will be delayed into the new year.

It had hoped to complete the £20billion merger this year, as soon as it got the green light from European competition regulators.

But in a third-quarter update, the LSE said it was now expecting approvals to be delayed until the first quarter of next year.

Delayed: The London Stock Exchange had hoped to complete its £20bn merger with Refinitiv this year, as soon as it got the green light from European competition regulators

Delayed: The London Stock Exchange had hoped to complete its £20bn merger with Refinitiv this year, as soon as it got the green light from European competition regulators

Delayed: The London Stock Exchange had hoped to complete its £20bn merger with Refinitiv this year, as soon as it got the green light from European competition regulators

It comes just weeks after the LSE agreed to sell Italian stock exchange, Borsa Italiana, to its rival Euronext for £3.9billion, to appease regulators at the European Commission. 

They are worried that a merger of the LSE and Refinitiv will reduce competition and push up prices of the critical data used by global markets.

LSE chief executive David Schwimmer said: ‘We continue to engage constructively with the European Commission and believe the potential divestment of the Borsa Italiana group will contribute significantly to addressing the EU’s competition concerns.’

LSE reported strong numbers for the third quarter. Income rose 2 per cent to £600million, and so far this year is up 6 per cent to £1.8billion.

It has benefited from market volatility as the pandemic has boosted trading activity.

Russell Quelch, an analyst at Redburn, said: ‘LSE has some large client contracts up for renewal before the year-end and it will be important that it is able to continue to show underlying business can grow revenues in advance of the Refinitiv transaction.’

The acquisition of Refinitiv would boost LSE’s position as one of the world’s most influential financial institutions, expanding its reach into data provision. 

Shares in LSE slipped 0.9 per cent, or 78p, to 8438p.

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