Credit where credit is due

Cardsave finally came good for Asif Kassam so credit where credit is due. I featured the struggle Asif was having in our June issue.

It started 10 months ago when Asif noticed that all the fuel cards had the same authorisation codes. He sought assurance that the terminal would recognise stolen cards and Cardsave said it would and acknowledged that the fault was theirs. A few months later PHH informed him that £2,000-worth of fuel transactions had been fraudulent and it was deducted from his account.

In April he got in touch with me as he felt he was on some sort of eternal-go-round; although the assurances kept coming, the money did not.

I got in touch with Cardsave which promised a thorough investigation. This was still ongoing when we went to press for the last issue but I heard from Asif shortly afterwards. "The company has agreed to pay back the money, which is over £2,000. I asked for it in writing through email which I have received."

The letter apologised and hoped that Asif would understand that this happened through matters outside its control. It gets better.

"It was amazing," says an elated Asif. "Cardsave is ready to give me six months’ free terminal hire and also review the card charges, saving me around £500-600 per annum as a goodwill gesture."

He adds: "I tried to haggle for 12 months’ free terminal hire but the best was six months, so I accepted their offer happily and they have sent me the paperwork to sign and agree. Thank you once again. Happy ending and it was worth being cheeky," he concludes.

What I liked about this outcome was Cardsave’s extra gesture. A lot of companies would not do that.

Of course, it is always worth remembering that if you have an unhappy customer they will tell at least eight people. So I’m pleased to relay to FT’s readers what a happy customer Asif now is.

Wet prospects? Don’t forget your MAC

These days you’ve all got to look closely at your contracts and be on the look-out for a better deal. Clearly you are all thinking energy here, but the same thing applies to broadband. I had a query/moan by email from ’Gassing Around’ (GA), about his experience in switching broadband providers "in order to save a few pennies and get a bit quicker". "Ha!" he writes, "ads said simples. Ha again!"

Apparently it took a couple of weeks. Obviously businesses cannot be ’down’ without broadband, so what went wrong in GA’s experience? He says he had been promised a ’seamless’ transition. Hmm.

I consulted which was launched in 2005 and claims to be the UK’s leading Ofcom-accredited broadband comparison calculator.

The company suggests that, before switching, simply asking your current provider for a better deal could be the answer. As the market continues to become more competitive, companies have to work harder to keep their customers. Also, if you’ve had your contract for some time, chances are that you could get the same thing for a lot less just by asking for it.

However, it’s not all about price you might get a better and quicker service elsewhere with a helpline located in the UK as opposed to outside your time zone.

You can check what broadband deals and special offers are on the market by comparing packages for your postcode, says Broadband-choices, (such as on its website).

It is also important to know your rights. Ofcom’s switching rules work to fairly facilitate the ’migration’ of customers from one supplier to another. Your current provider should issue you with a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC), which you pass on to your new provider, allowing your service to be set up without a break in service. (It would seem not all providers are forthcoming about this.)

Be aware though that MAC codes can’t be used to switch between cable and copper wire ADSL providers, or some full local loop unbundled (LLU) providers (no, I don’t know what these are either, but if you’ve got one, you will know). The rule is, all participating ISPs must issue your MAC code within five days of you asking for it.

I know this gets tedious but you need to check that you are free of your contract obligations before making a switch. If you have signed a contract you have to see it out or you’ll face a cancellation fee even if your current provider is signed up to the Migration Code of Practice.

A new loan arranger

From time to time I get calls from retailers whose banks have been less than supportive. Most recently it was John Hunt who had to put his picturesque Kintyre Fillling Station on the market owing to an unco-operative bank.

So I was very interested to learn about peer-to-peer lending.

Funding Circle provides an online marketplace where people lend directly to businesses. This cuts out the banks, along with their high costs and long processing times.

Funding Circle is better for business loans, it claims, because its lender auctions mean you get to choose the lowest cost loan available and it only takes two days to get approval for it. You can borrow anything up to £250,000.

Once your loan is approved it can take as little as 14 days to have the funds in your account and the loan will be at a fixed rate. You can also repay early at no extra cost.

Sounds like a good deal to me.

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