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Sunday Mail Judge; pounds 1500 FOR A HOLIDAY AND WE'RE STRANDED AT HOME.

Byline: The Judge Additional Reporting JANE BARRIE

DOUG and Moira Hart planned to jet off to Florida to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

So when travel firm Global Discovery Club contacted them offering savings on luxury holidays for life, they jumped at the chance of finding out more.

The Harts went along to a presentation at Global's offices in Perth in September last year.

And they were so impressed with the holiday scheme that they signed up there and then.

They paid a joining fee of pounds 1500 and were promised savings of up to pounds 1000 on their break in the Sunshine State alone.

But, despite numerous attempts, the distraught couple have never been able to book their holiday.

Now bosses at Global Discovery Club are refusing to return their calls or their cash.

Moira, 67, told me: "I feel as though we've been misled by this firm. They have our money and they just don't care.

"We signed up at the presentation because the salesman told us we could save up to pounds 1000 right away.

"But the bottom line is that we've ended up pounds 1500 out of pocket. I'm absolutely furious."

Doug, 64, and Moira, from Montrose, were hoping to take their family with them to Florida in October this year.

Moira, a retired office clerk, said: "We hoped my son Graeme, daughter Elaine and the grandchildren would be able to come, too.

"When I spoke to the salesman from Global, he said it wouldn't be a problem. Doug and I came away from the presentation thinking we had a really good deal."

Within days, the couple got back in touch with Global and faxed details of their proposed holiday.

Moira explained: "We needed a villa with five bedrooms to accommodate the whole family. We also asked for a package which included a heated swimming pool and car hire.

"They got back in touch almost immediately to say that if we waited a few months until January, we'd get a better deal on the flights."

Doug, a quantity surveyor, and Moira took Global's advice and waited before doing any more. But when they tried to contact the firm in January to get the ball rolling, they had little success.

Moira said: "I couldn't get through on the phone for some reason and ended up sending a fax.

"Two weeks later we received a fax from Global apologising for the delay. Apparently they'd been shut for the holiday period.

"They said they were looking into our request and would be in touch as soon as possible.

"We never thought any more of it and were happy that something was finally being done."

Doug and Moira then received a letter from Global demanding further payment.

Moira said: "I couldn't believe my eyes when the letter arrived as we'd already forked out pounds 1500. Global wanted an extra pounds 61 annual fee from us, but we'd been told at the presentation we wouldn't have to pay that. We'd only been in the club for a matter of months, so I wrote back to complain.

"Global sent a fax back apologising, claiming a computer error was to blame."

Weeks passed and the Harts never heard any more from Global.

Moira said: "Unknown to us, the company had changed its phone number and this made us suspicious. When we tried to get in touch on the number we had, it was unobtainable.

"When we eventually got the new number, we left lots of messages but no one phoned us back."

Finally, Moira sent a registered letter to Global Discovery Club demanding a refund. But again, she heard nothing.

That's when she got in touch with me to ask for help.

She said: "I'm at the end of my tether. We paid our money in good faith seven months ago and have nothing to show for it.

"We thought we had a good deal and would save a lot on our Florida holiday and be able to go elsewhere in years to come.

"Now we're pounds 1500 out of pocket and have had to book with another firm as time is running out."

I got in touch with Global Discovery Club at their premises in Friarton Road, Perth, to demand some answers.

But the firm has yet to respond to my letters or phone calls.

Any company that takes pounds 1500 from a customer who has nothing to show for it, has a lot of explaining to do.

Mobile thief left shock bill of pounds 1700

FURIOUS Robert Fyfe ended up with a pounds 1700 bill after his mobile phone was stolen.

Robert, 48, mislaid his mobile after being rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. He contacted the telecom giant to explain the situation once he was better.

But even though there was a pounds 450 limit on his account, someone had run up pounds 1765.16 in calls in just three weeks.

Distraught Robert told me: "I got the shock of my life when I found out what One-2-One expected me to pay.

"My bills are always under pounds 20 as I have a package which includes free minutes. My total for last month was pounds 1.48, so you can imagine my horror."

Robert, from Shawlands in Glasgow, was in hospital with severe chest pains in March.

It was only when he recovered that he noticed his phone was missing. He said: "I frantically searched the house, the car and my office, but couldn't find it anywhere. It was only then that the penny dropped."

Robert, an office clerk phoned One-2-One to report the theft. He said: "The guy I spoke to actually asked me if I was sitting down. I think he was as shocked as I was about the amount."

Robert received an itemised bill a few days later. He said: "The calls were to premium rate and international numbers. One call listed cost pounds 103. I couldn't believe it.

"The bill confirmed what I suspected. It took One-2-One a week to cut the phone off after the pounds 450 limit was reached."

Robert wrote to One-2-One, but they wouldn't budge.

He said: "I accept I may have to pay up to the credit limit of pounds 450 because, technically, I didn't report the theft right away. One-2-One say the limit is for their information only. It seems they want to cash in."

That's when distraught Robert asked me for help.

I contacted One-2-One at their HQ in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, and they agreed to reduce the bill as a goodwill gesture.

A spokesman said: "We sympathise with the circumstances surrounding the theft.

"Under our terms and conditions Mr Fyfe remains liable for charges. But, as a gesture of goodwill we'll waive pounds 765.16 of the outstanding amount, mak-ing the total balance pounds 1000."

Suite nothing after Mae's sofa fell apart

MAE GRAHAM was thrilled when her new pounds 875 suite arrived at her home.

But her joy was short-lived - within three months, Mae noticed the cushions on the chairs and sofa were split at the seams.

Distraught Mae, 61, got in touch with the suppliers, Gwent-based Kirkdale mail order firm.

They told her she could not get a refund but they would repair the furniture.

Mae said: "I couldn't believe my eyes. Suites are supposed to last for years, not fall apart after three months."

Retired hairdresser Mae, 61, from Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, bought the two chairs, matching sofa and stool in November. By February it was frayed and worn.

Kirkdale collected the chairs and stool for repair in March, but left the flawed sofa.

After weeks of silence, Mae called the company several times to find out what was happening, but couldn't get any answers.

Mae contacted her local trading standards office, who told her she was entitled to a refund.

But the company still refused. Desperate, Mae wrote to me and I got in touch with the firm.

Kirkdale's after-sales manager Karen Phillips said: "I cannot agree that the suite purchased was not of merchantable quality and indeed it is fit for the purpose for which it was intended."

She claimed Mae should have complained within 21 days to be entitled to a refund and said she had signed on delivery that the suite was of satisfactory quality.

There wasn't anything wrong with it when it was delivered, Karen. And, by law, Mae has up to five years to make a claim for breach of contract.

But the firm still won't budge.

Devastated Mae said: "I can't believe the way I have been treated. I thought customer care was their No. 1 priority. But obviously I was wrong."

What will I get when my sick husband dies?

I LEFT my husband two years ago and he is now in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I applied for a separation order, but it was never finalised. He has no will and his stepdaughter has power of attorney. What are my rights?

YOU no longer have what is known under Scots law as 'capacity' and can't revoke the power of attorney. If he died, or if a curator was appointed to look after his affairs, it could be revoked. The curator would be appointed by a court and requires to act in your husband's best interests. If your husband has no will, you will have what's known as 'prior rights' then 'legal rights' to his estate, assumimg there has been no agreement to waive your rights. Unless the estate is very large, you would inherit it all.

Rip-off tenant won't pay up

I RENTED out a room in my house for two months. The tenant stole from me and ran up a pounds 500 phone bill. I took him to court and have an enforcement order, but he still hasn't paid. What can I do?

INSTRUCT sheriff officers to serve a charge upon him. If he does not pay within 14 days, you can then instruct a poinding, or attachment of his household goods, and a warrant sale, or consider an arrestment on his bank account. You would then have to raise an action to release the sum due to you. You can also wait to see if he gains employment and, after a service of a charge and the expiry of 14 days, instruct an earnings arrestment.

Is dad due cash for snow trip?

MY father fell over a mound of cleared snow on a pavement and broke his leg. Can he claim from the council and, if so, how many witnesses would he need?

HE will need witnesses who can confirm council employees failed to clear that area of the street properly. There's nothing to stop him placing an ad in the local paper appealing for witnesses. One witness plus your father should suffice, but the more the merrier. If and when you get witness details, you must exhibit statements from them to the council. If they refuse to pay out, court action will be required.

Stepdad took all mum had

MY mother died, leaving a house, a pounds 75,000 insurance policy and three bank accounts. A week after she died, my stepfather closed the accounts and cashed in the policy. I feel conned. Do I have any rights?

ASSUMING she left no will, he has rights to the house, provided he normally lived in it, furniture and cash to the value of pounds 30,000, and half the remaining estate, with you and other siblings sharing the other half.
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Title Annotation:The Judge
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 6, 2001
Previous Article:Mailbox; CAUGHT OUT HOOK, LINE AND STINKER.
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