ASK TONY: Travel agent pocketed £225 of our China holiday refund

Last July, my wife, daughter and I used travel agent Carlton Leisure to book flights to Beijing with British Airways, returning via Hong Kong, with an internal flight between there and Chengdu. 

We had planned this trip for the Easter holidays. However, due to the coronavirus, British Airways cancelled our flights and told us to contact Carlton Leisure for a refund. 

This my wife did only to discover that each ticket incurs an a­dministration fee of £75 (total £225). 

Sting: Carlton Leisure helped itself to a £225 when one reader was forced to cancel his family’s trip to China due to the coronavirus outbreak

If we had booked directly with British Airways we would be receiving a full refund. We are disgusted by this. We didn’t choose to cancel and feel that any fee should be waived in this circumstance. 

We had been planning this holiday for nearly nine months and saving for more than 18 months. This is a real kick in the teeth. 

A. C., Ashford, Kent. 

I checked Carlton Leisure’s terms and conditions and there is, indeed, a £75 per person administration fee for cancellations. However, I agree with you. This is not a case of you simply changing your mind. 

These are exceptional circumstances. Carlton Leisure has now taken a similar view and has reduced its fee for c­ancellations linked to coronavirus to £25 per person. 

So you have had £75 deducted from your refund rather than £225. I did ask for the fee to be waived completely, but was told: ‘We have already checked this with our senior management but unfortunately we won’t be able to waive [the fee] completely.’ 

In the financial world, regulators have laid down rules on what constitutes a fair administration fee. This saw, among other things, charges for late payments on credit cards cut to £12. 

There is also a general principle that any fee should reflect fairly the actual cost of administration and not include a profit margin. 

At this time it is reasonable for travel agents to take a small fee reflecting the work involved, but any extra would sully their reputation — and that of the industry. 

You have YOUR say 

Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some of the best from our article on the millions Lord Sugar has made from his apprentices: 

The two things you need in business are cash and contacts. It’s no surprise that having Lord Sugar on board has helped these people’s businesses. 

L. M., London. 

This programme shows that the UK is still a place where you can always earn a living if you are willing to put in the effort and hard work. 

A. F., Cornwall. 

Some of these businesses are unique and they stand out. But any ordinary concept can succeed if you have an expert’s backing and someone to open doors for you. 

R. C., Manchester. 

I worked for a smart start-up financed by a millionaire for three years. I was one of three employees and we earned a fair wage, but the business never made a profit. You win some, you lose some. 

C. D., by email. 

Lord Sugar is making money from these talented people. However, he took the financial risks which helped drive their own successes. 

J. J., Farnborough. 

A top tip for would-be applicants is to watch episodes of past series before you go on. That way you won’t embarrass yourself, especially when it comes to your business plan. 

T. J., Edinburgh. 

A high turnover doesn’t always equal wealth. I know some companies with large turnovers, but they never make a profit. 

K. W., Chigwell, Essex. 

I often feel that the contestants should pitch their business plans from day one. Sometimes the winners’ ideas can end up being very ordinary. 

Q. S., Inverness. 

We wrote to TalkTalk last July to say we no longer needed a landline and asked the firm to disconnect us. 

We stopped our direct debit in August, but are still receiving bills even though we have no house phone. 

I have written five times; twice by recorded delivery. The bills came to £148.78 and we were worried about getting into debt, so we sent a cheque and another letter asking TalkTalk to cut off the line. 

A few days later we received a debt recovery firm letter for £148.78. TalkTalk claimed it had not received our cheque. So we sent another to the debt recovery firm. Both cheques were cashed, so we wrote to ask for our money back. 

We then received a bill showing that we are in credit, but the firm is still taking £44.95 each month. 

A. S., Worcester. 

Am I alone in suspecting that some telecoms firms put paper letters straight into the bin? 

TalkTalk says no disconnection requests were logged or recorded on the account. It claims it didn’t receive your letters. 

It says it checked the tracking references and found the first was incomplete and invalid. It says it could not find the second. 

However, it does confirm that two payments were recorded in November. It has now refunded both, one of which was incorrectly charged to you and the other as a goodwill gesture. Your account has also been closed. 

TalkTalk’s website instructs those who wish to cancel to phone 0345 172 0088 or write to Talktalk Correspondence Department, PO Box 675, Salford M5 0NL.  

You must include your full name, your TalkTalk phone number and your signature. Bear in mind that if you are in contract, there will be termination charges — and don’t cancel your direct debit until the final bill has been agreed and paid. 

Straight to the point 

I bought an ice cube maker from Sixty Stores on eBay, but it broke after just four months. The shop is refusing to refund me and eBay won’t help either. 

R. S., Aldershot. 

Sixty Stores says it asked you to submit your refund request through eBay so it could resolve the issue there. It has sent a full refund of £79.99 to your PayPal account. 


I opened an account with Lloyds in 1974 with £7 and have not added or withdrawn any money since. 

Now Lloyds says it can’t find my money as it doesn’t hold the details for dormant accounts after ten years. 

D. M., Anglesey. 

Lloyds defines a current account as inactive if, after three years, no transactions have been made, there is no response to communications and the customer has no other active account with the group. 

It has now agreed to pay you £7 plus £19.22 interest. It also found two other accounts in your name with balances of £14.25 and £8.38. 


We sold our property in Milton Keynes in October and are now renting. I have repeatedly written to TV Licensing to request a refund for the licence we held at our old property, and sent copies of our council tax and water bills as proof of our new address, but we are still waiting. 

J. C., Cornwall. 

TV Licensing told me it is waiting for your new landlord to confirm that they hold a licence. 

However, the landlord lives abroad and is recovering from an operation. In light of these circumstances, it has now issued the £77.25 refund. 

Am I still entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period if I use an online estate agent? Emoov promised to refund me when I cancelled within 24 hours, but I have yet to receive my £805 back. 

R. M., by email. 

The standard 14-day cooling-off period does typically apply to online estate agents, which should mean you can cancel your contract and get a full refund — providing the service has not been used. 

Emoov and other similar firms, such as Purplebricks and Yopa, all reference it in their small print. 

Emoov refused to respond to my requests for comment, but you say you have since received a refund. 

My mother died last year and I’ve been trying to transfer money from her savings account with Halifax into an executor account since January 24. 

Initially, I was told this would take up to three working days. Six days later it had not arrived. So I rang the bereavement department and was told that as it was a large sum (£80,000), it would be split over two payments, one arriving on January 31 and the other on ­February 3. 

It hadn’t arrived by these dates either, but this time the handler said he wasn’t aware of the split payment and the money hadn’t been transferred because the scan of the grant of probate had not come through. 

On February 6, I received a letter saying my mother’s savings account had been closed and the money transferred to a new account in her name. 

The situation is getting worse and it’s affecting my physical and mental health. 

J. M., Chesterfield. 

This is exactly the sort of behaviour from banks that Money Mail has worked hard to put a stop to since the launch of our Looking After Your Legacy c­ampaign in 2015. 

Bereaved r­elatives should not have to deal with this sort of red tape. Halifax says it’s ‘extremely sorry’ you received ‘a level of service well below the high standards’ it expects. 

It admits a number of errors were made and says it has shared the case with employees to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

The funds have now been transferred into an executor account and a distress payment has been made. 

  • Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given. 

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