Sainsbury's took a loan payment after it said it wouldn't

But there’s better news for travellers, as Eurostar and BA ease coronavirus refund policies

A few years ago I took out a £20,000 loan with Sainsbury’s Bank to pay for debts I had accrued over a lean time of work. I pay back £400 a month and still owe £10,000. All my freelance work has dried up due to the shutdown and I applied for universal credit.

I contacted Sainsbury’s Bank about taking a payment holiday but all it would do was delay my next payment by a month. But despite agreeing, it still took the £400 payment. This emptied my account and led to my card being declined while food shopping.

When I called to complain, the only solution offered was to make an indemnity claim on the payment with my bank but then I’d be in arrears on the loan.

JG, by email

At the start of the crisis, the Financial Conduct Authority was quick to tell loan providers to offer consumers a three-month payment freeze. It seems, in your case, the person processing your call simply didn’t apply this. At least after we took your case, Sainsbury’s Bank moved quickly to put it right. It has now apologised, applied the full three-month payment holiday, refunded the £6 overdraft fee and will pay you a further £125 for distress and inconvenience.

And finally …

Better news for those looking for travel refunds. Eurostar this week announced more generous cancellation terms and has promised cash refunds.

Previously, it was pushing customers into taking vouchers that had to be used to make a booking before the end of September for travel by the end of April 2021.

After many complaints, it has said customers have 12 months to make a new booking, and a further six months to travel to its “core” city destinations – or nine months to its seasonal stations such as Disneyland Paris or the south of France.

Passengers have complained that trains were cancelled only 48 hours before they were set to depart, in an apparent bid to get customers to accept vouchers rather than refunds. The advice is not to do anything until the day before you were due to travel, if you want a cash refund.

Meanwhile, readers who bought flight tickets, but paid using PayPal rather than a credit card, have reported getting full refunds for cancelled flights. SH writes: “I supplied the correspondence from Ryanair – the cancellation plus original email offering a refund and subsequent one offering a voucher – and I received notification that the money was back in my PayPal credit account within a week. Hope this helps others in the same boat.”

BA customers are now reporting being offered refunds, too, after phoning the company.

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Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

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