I'm Steaming Mad over Money-Saving Kettle British Gas Failed to Deliver; Your Money Problems Solved ... Dear Margaret

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Byline: Margaret Stone

IN JUNE, British Gas offered a free energy check because I'm over 70 - it otherwise costs [pounds sterling]40. An expert came and told us we were wasting money, so we were sold central heating radiator reflectors and a new kettle. These would supposedly pay for themselves in fuel savings in six months. They cost [pounds sterling]60, paid for by credit card. To date, nothing's arrived nor has the phone call I waspromised when I contacted British Gas.

A. B., Dorset.

UNFORTUNATELY, the agent who picked up your order, which you placed in August, did not process the job correctly. As a result, your order was never activated. British Gas has spoken to the person concerned to ensure this doesn't happen again.

And, just as important from your point of view, it dispatched the goods by special delivery last week, so they should be with you.

It has apologised verbally to you for the error and the delay and, as a goodwill gesture, has re-credited the entire cost of the goods to your card - [pounds sterling]60-plus - so the fuel savings should start now.

WE WERE due to go on holiday with Thomas Cook when the second volcanic ash incident occurred. I contacted East Midlands Airport, which was closed on May 16. They told us to check with our carrier the next day, when we were due to fly.

I tried the Thomas Cook helpline from 5am onwards, with no answer. At 7am, when the airport office opened, I was told that my flight had left on schedule at 6.30am.

Then the Thomas Cook office where I'd booked the flight said passengers had gone by bus to Manchester and would be leaving that afternoon - too late for us to join it.

We lost a holiday that cost [pounds sterling]436, which as pensioners we can ill afford. We feel let down by Thomas Cook, which has merely offered us [pounds sterling]50 in vouchers.

J. B., Bloxham, Lincs.

I AM so sorry to hear of your holiday disappointment. It is understandable that you called East Midlands Airport, but you should have also contacted your travel company to get specific information about your flight. It was never cancelled, but re-located to Manchester Airport. Had you turned up in the departure lounge on time that morning, you'd have been on it. Thomas Cook says there is a 24-hour emergency contact number

on page six(!) of its ticket booklets. The number that you called unsuccessfully was, in fact, a sales helpline number, which is open only during office hours.

Thomas Cook says that at no time did it advise customers on that flight not to check in as normal. But that assumes everyone knows they would be contacted in the case of adverse news. It is a big assumption and takes little account of the fact that not everyone is a seasoned traveller with online connections.

Given the mayhem caused by the first bout of volcanic ash, and the fact it was still around, I also think it could have given more prominence to its emergency number.

I have managed to get Thomas Cook to double its offer to [pounds sterling]100. …