News, Culture & Society

SALLY SORTS IT: My son is STILL waiting for £300 pothole claim payout

In December last year, my son hit a nasty pothole when driving home down a rural, unlit country lane near our home in Wales. This damaged one of his car’s wheels.

As he needed the car the next morning to get to work at the refuse centre, he arranged for a repair firm to come to our home and fix it that evening. It cost about £300.

Since my son has learning difficulties, I filled in an online form on his behalf to make a claim against Wrexham Borough Council for the repair bill.

Unacceptable: Wrexham Borough Council has left a young man waiting over five months for his pothole claim payout

We submitted various supporting evidence but heard nothing. We contacted the council, which said the claim had been transferred to Zurich Insurance.

We have tried on several occasions by phone and email to get someone from either of these bodies to help with reimbursement, but each passes the buck.

This is frustrating for a young man on minimum wage who works extremely hard. I feel the service he has received has been sadly lacking.

Our council tax paid to Wrexham is an eye-watering amount and yet the pothole situation around here is dreadful.

Why can’t the council repair them so it doesn’t have claims made against it or pay up promptly to people like my son who has faced months of stress.

T. P., Wrexham.

Sally Hamilton replies: The nation is plagued by potholes and there are fears they will only get worse as councils rein in spending on roads.

But drivers such as your son have the right to claim for damage, if neglected road repairs cause damage to their vehicles, although there is no guarantee a claim will be successful. Recent research by website What Car? found that, over the past four years, three out of four claims failed.

However, you did your research and knew that because the incident occurred on a minor road near where you live in Wales, Wrexham Borough Council was the right place to direct the claim. Had the incident happened on a motorway or A-road, you would have had to apply to Highways Wales.

Scam Watch  

Beware fraudsters targeting borrowers who are struggling to make ends meet.

Reports of so-called ‘advance fee’ scams have risen by 90 pc this year, according to Lloyds Bank.

This is where crooks charge victims a fee to access credit.

They often pose as legitimate firms with seemingly professional websites. But after you hand over the money, they disappear without a trace.

And the average victim loses £231.

Remember that no genuine lender will ask a borrower for cash upfront before releasing funds.

You also provided all the right materials to support your claim, including several photos and measurements of the offending pothole, a mechanic’s report and the repair bill.

Despite this, your repeated requests for an update fell on ground as stony as the road that caused the damage to the car.

Incidentally, drivers can claim on their own motor insurance policy for such damage but this has its drawbacks as there will be an excess to pay and the risk of losing any no-claims bonus.

I stepped in to contact Wrexham Borough Council on your behalf. I had to do this by email (there is no press office phone number) requesting it accelerate your claim. I got no response until I chased twice more, when finally an anonymous spokesman stated your claim is ‘being dealt with by its insurers’ and that the council has requested this is prioritised.

A few more days passed and still neither you, nor I, heard anything about the payment, so I went direct to Zurich Insurance.

I’m delighted to say this revved the claims team into action and, within days, the £300 was paid. Zurich also sent your son a car cleaning kit worth £50 as an apology for the five-month delay.

A spokesman says: ‘We are sorry for the time it has taken to settle this claim. This was caused by an administrative error which led to a delay in documentation reaching us. We strive to deliver the very best service for our customers.

‘When this falls short, we review our internal processes to try to ensure this doesn’t happen again.’

Straight to the point 

After checking my statements, I noticed Amazon has been taking £3.99 out of my account each month. But I don’t remember signing up to any subscriptions.

L.M., Clacton, Essex.

You loaned your credit card to your granddaughter and she signed up to Amazon’s music streaming service without your knowledge. 

She has now promised to contact Amazon direct to cancel the subscription.

*** 

When I returned home from hospital following a stroke, I saw my energy company E.ON had slapped a £10 late payment fine on my latest bill.

I contacted the firm to explain the situation but it still has not removed it.

T.O., Waltham Cross, Herts.

An E.ON spokesman apologises for the confusion and says the late payment fee was wrongly added to your account. This charge has now been removed.

*** 

I invested £20,000 in a Vanguard account and cashed in after making a £1,300 loss. But the investment firm is making it very difficult to reclaim the remaining £18,700.

B. V., Cheshire.

A Vanguard spokesman says you had not uploaded the relevant bank statements needed for its verification process. 

Until this is completed, it is not possible to make withdrawals. You have since uploaded the correct statements and are free to withdraw the funds.

*** 

My husband died in December 2021 and while sorting out his estate I came across an unopened envelope from HMRC containing a tax rebate worth £295.08. It was dated 2002. I’ve been trying to contact HMRC but have had no response.

A.L., Sutton Coldfield, Warks.

Following our intervention, HMRC has agreed to refund you the £295.08. We are working with HMRC to facilitate this.

I lost my £5,676 pension payout with a slip of a finger

I had a notification from NOW: Pensions in early March that I would receive, as expected, a £5,676 lump sum from my pension and that it would be paid into my account shortly.

Unfortunately, I realised a few days later I’d typed an incorrect digit for my Nationwide account, where the sum was being sent.

I phoned the company to explain and apologise on March 18. I eventually raised a complaint with NOW: Pensions, having had conversations on March 23, 28 and 30 about tracing my money, but to no avail.

I received a message on April 13 stating it hadn’t received the funds from Nationwide, so could not resend the money but would keep me informed. It is weeks later and I’ve heard nothing.

I need the money to pay for a medical procedure, which I have had to postpone. Please help.

A. T., by email.

Sally Hamilton replies: Fat-finger slips are all too common. I make them daily when sending rushed messages from my phone’s tiny keyboard.

Fortunately, my errors have not caused me financial loss (so far), just certain confusion for friends receiving my texts.

However, I have encountered cases where readers have mistyped details, which at the very least had caused delays and anxiety — but in extreme circumstances mean the money has been lost for ever.

You did the right thing to act as soon as you realised your mistake. Many banks and building societies have signed up to a code on ‘misdirected payments’ and promise to act quickly — normally within two days — to attempt recovery of money sent to the wrong place.

Transfers to accounts that don’t exist should automatically bounce back. But sometimes the accounts do exist and this adds a layer of complexity when trying to retrieve the cash. The procedure in more complicated cases can take 20 working days to resolve.

In your case, the attempts to retrieve the money took longer, to your frustration, which is why you complained to NOW: Pensions.

I asked the company if it could step up its efforts on your behalf, as you had been worrying about the whereabouts of your money for nearly two months. It agreed to investigate and soon got back to say its payroll department was still trying to trace the money.

About ten days later, it finally gave us the news you had been anxiously waiting for — that your £5,676 was safe and would be in your account imminently.

When I caught up with you this week, you told me the money had arrived and you could now go ahead with your procedure.

I know I sound like a nagging aunt but when giving bank details, please check, and then check again, that the sort code and account number are correct. This can avoid weeks of pain.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email sally@dailymail.co.uk — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. 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. 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk