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THE JUDGE: WHERE'S ALL OUR MONEY?; 150 READERS CAUGHT UP IN CASH BACK WARRANTY CHAOS.

Byline: JANE BARRIE

I KNEW I was opening a can of worms last week when I exposed the shambles surrounding a ScottishPower warranty scheme.

But even I have been taken aback by just how huge the problems are.

All week, a wave of complaints swept in as more than 150 furious readers contacted me to say they signed up for the Power Plan cashback warranty scheme.

But not one of them can get their cash back at the end of the five-year scheme.

All bought electrical goods from ScottishPower and took out expensive Power Plan warranties. But London General Holdings, who administer the scheme, refused to pay out.

ScottishPower last week came to the rescue with ex-gratia payments for the six readers I featured. Now they're investigating the latest complaints as a matter of urgency.

Here are just some of my readers' stories:

Retired secretary Christina Clark, from Rutherglen, Glasgow, paid pounds 130 for a warranty when she bought a JVC video recorder in May 1997.

But when she claimed her money back after five years, LGH told her she was too late. Furious Christina, 67, said: "I was so angry I binned their letter. I had all the documents, including a redemption form and my original till receipt.

"I can't believe they can get away with this."

Dougie Thain, 58, bought a Samsung TV and video in 1997 and paid pounds 229 for an extended warranty. But the retired lorry driver never received a redemption form, so was refused his cash back.

Dougie, from Edinburgh said: "It's a big con. I tried phoning LGH to complain, but couldn't get through. I'm really angry."

Joiner Norman Girdwood paid pounds 379.97 for three warranties when he bought a CD player, TV and video in 1997. But when it came time to claim, LGH said they had no record of him.

Angry Norman, 47, from West Calder, West Lothian said: "All the relevant forms and receipts were sent to LGH on the due date to claim the cashback. I was so disgusted with their reply that I ripped it apart and threw it out. But I retrieved it when I saw your story."

Isabel Fulton bought a freezer and a washing machine in 1997 and paid pounds 189 for warranties. When she tried to claim, LGH asked her for redemption forms, which she didn't have. Isabel, 63, a home help from Greenock, said: "I never received them."

Maureen Sinclair, a cleaner from Glenrothes, Fife, paid pounds 180 for a Power Plan warranty when she bought a washing machine in 1997.

When she claimed earlier this year, LGH wrote back saying her application hadn't been received within the relevant timescale.

Maureen, 53, said: "My paperwork, including the receipt, was forwarded in good time. But they weren't having it. I'm really angry."

Cleaner Joan Kerr faced similar problems when claiming her pounds 79.99 cashback on a fridge freezer warranty she purchased in 1997. Joan, 38, from Irvine, Ayrshire, was told by LGH that they had no record of her registering.

She said: "They claim they didn't receive my documents five years ago and that's why I wasn't sent a redemption form. It's my word against theirs."

Bride Gillian Baillie paid pounds 179 for a washing machine warranty when she wed husband John in 1997. Now the couple from Cleland, Motherwell, are being refused a refund from LGH because they don't have a redemption form.

Gillian, 31, a coffee shop assistant, said: "I have the original receipt and LGH know I haven't made a claim. They say they sent me a redemption form five years ago, but there's no way they did.

"I certainly didn't receive it."

Retired shipyard engineer Ronnie McDonough paid for a warranty after buying a TV from Scottish Power in 1997.

Five years later, and without a single claim, he's also being refused his cashback. Ronnie, 73, from Paisley, said: "LGH got back to me asking for a redemption form which I don't have.

"They say they sent one to me when I registered, but I certainly didn't receive it. The money would come in very handy. I can't believe I'm having this hassle."

Bill Davidson paid pounds 234.99 for a warranty on his washer-dryer in June 1997.

When he claimed last month, he was refused, as LGH had no record of him applying for the scheme.

Furious Bill, 71, a retired storeman from Bonhill, Alexandria, said: "I sent everything off and phoned three times trying to sort the mess out, but they still refused. It's a disgrace."

Retail manager Callum Christison paid pounds 99.99 for a warranty on his Hotpoint cooker in 1997. Like other readers, Callum, 38, from Bannockburn, didn't receive a redemption form.

When he claimed his cashback earlier this year, he was told he was too late.

He said: "I will never buy from ScottishPower again."

Finally, I have news for ScottishPower and their pals at LGH if they think think they can ride out the storm...

As each week passes, more of my readers will be reaching the end of their warranties and looking for their cash.

And I'll be right behind them.

No pension

because we never wed

I LIVED with my partner for 25 years up to his death and, towards the end, I was the only wage earner.

I get a state widow's pension, but his former employers won't pay me a pension as we weren't married.

I've been told I could take them to court, but it could take years to sort out. I really need the money. Can you suggest a way forward for me?

nI'M afraid the lengthy route is the only one open to you. What you need to proceed is a declarator of marriage.

You would have to show that your family and friends believed that you were married and not simply living together.

It's true that it can take a few years to be confirmed, but it might be as little as one year.

Consult a lawyer for more specific advice.

Firm won't pay me my dues

AN ENGLISH firm has only ipart-paid me after I won an Industrial Tribunal decision against them.

I'm furious, as they've messed me around for years and there's no question I am due the cash. What can I do?

UNFORTUNATELY, your best bet is to write it off.

You could have an extract from the tribunal registered in the nearest court and instruct sheriff officers to enforce the decree on your behalf.

But this is an expensive business and it would probably cost you more than you would gain.

It's too late to

sue the roofer

TEN years ago, I had my attic converted. Since then, the roof has leaked constantly.

An expert says the job was not done properly in the first place, as corners were cut.

I'm furious, as the conversion cost more than pounds 12,000.

Is there anything I can do?

I'M afraid your only option is to bite the bullet and pay for proper repairs before serious damage results.

Any court action against the builder would be time barred, so there is no legal route open to you.

My ex-hubby has the house

MY ex-husband lives in the imatrimonial home and pays the mortgage. I wanted to force him to sell and split the proceeds.

But my lawyer says that, as there's no equity, I should now sign the house over to him and walk away. I've already paid pounds 1000 in legal fees and don't want to lose out. What can I do?

nTHE only benefit in an action of division and sale would be to remove you from the title. If this was why you wanted a sale, then the lawyers have complied with your instructions.

If it was to get you money, they should have checked the equity before proceeding.

So who's

going to

sort out

the mess?

THIS is one big mess that's just getting bigger and bigger.

But it appears the two main players are refusing to come clean on their responsibilities.

On the face of it, it looks easy enough to resolve.

All I needed were answers to four simple questions.

Instead, I was met with a wall of silence from ScottishPower and LGH. I asked them:

When the customer handed over warranty cash, where did it end up - in LGH's hands or ScottishPower's?

If the customer had claimed on the warranty within five years, which company would have paid for repairs?

If the customer didn't claim for repairs, which firm produces the cash for the refund?

And, in the case of those refused refunds, where is all their money sitting now?

Simple enough, you might think. But was either company prepared to answer? No.

When I approached LGH they bleated that they were merely the administrators of the scheme - and I'd have to talk to ScottishPower.

And what was the response from the power giant? - DITTO.

They refused point blank to comment, saying they were "in discussion" with LGH.

I demanded both firms investigate my readers' complaints as a priority... and I had great pleasure in passing a huge file to them.

ScottishPower immediately set up a special department to deal with the flood of letters.

They want customers to contact: Retail Contact Desk, Scottish Power, Cathcart Business Park Spean Street Glasgow, G44 4BE.

They refused to say if they were planning to pay out and said "customers must comply with the terms and conditions on the form that accompanies their purchase."

says....

LONDON General Holdings, a division of the Aon warranty group, is a respected worldwide player.

It sells more than 5 million extended warranties every year to customers of stores like Comet and Iceland.

Scottish Power no longer runs a High Street retail chain but it is still a huge force in utilities.

Both are respectable firms with reputations to protect. So why are they prepared to allow so many of their Scots customers to be treated so shoddily?

And why do both firms seem to think this is a problem that's just going to go away?

As far as I'm concerned they're very much mistaken. I'm not finished with them yet.

Bottom line is, I don't care who pays... but someone will.

FAX TO: 0141-309 3587 (Please include daytime phone number if possible)

E-MAIL: thejudge@sundaymail.co.uk (You MUST include postal address and phone number)

WRITE TO: The Judge, Sunday Mail, One Central Quay, Glasgow, G3 8DA
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 4, 2002
Words:1746
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