Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q. My wife wants to buy a new Zanussi washing machine and insists on adding almost £180 to the cost by paying for a five-year extended warranty. She also insists on paying for service contracts for all of our domestic appliances. I’ve pointed her to your articles where you claim they’re a waste of money and that we should pay for any repairs as we go. She’s not convinced – how do I persuade her?
A. You must have money to burn. I stand by my advice that it doesn’t make sense to buy insurance against washing machine repair costs.
First, the service provided by many extended warranty and service contract firms can be less than satisfactory.
Secondly, apart from the cheapest machines, the quality of laundry appliances has improved dramatically making major repairs within the first five years highly unlikely.
By way of an example, I have a 12-year-old Zanussi washer drier which has cost me less than £200 in pay-as-you-go repairs, and is still going strong.
That’s around £16 per year during its lifetime, against an annual cost of £40 for a five-year extended warranty - a saving of £120.
That £120 would pay for all but a drum or motor replacement within the first five years.
If I then went on to take out a service contract for the remaining seven years at a typical annual cost of £150, the total cost of buying the additional ‘peace of mind’ for my reliable washing machine would come to a whopping £1,250.
I have no hesitation in saying that it’s bonkers forking out three or four times the average cost of laundry appliances to cover repair costs. I’ll leave you to convince the wife.
Q. Can you please help me? Santander bank has ‘lost’ my £12,000 redundancy payment. I paid it into my account but it has never been credited and the bank can’t find it.
A. When you first showed me your exchange of letters with Santander I was astounded. As if being made redundant was not bad enough, you had no access to the payoff on which you were relying to tide you over until you found another job.
At first the bank said they had no record of the redundancy cheque being paid into your account. When you were able to produce evidence of the payment, they then said they’d sort the matter out promptly.
Six weeks later you were still waiting, despite a string of phone calls to the bank, countless empty promises of action, and being pushed around from pillar to post.
When I spoke to the bank for you, things started to move in the right direction.
It turned out your money had been languishing in a suspension account because someone had entered the wrong sort code and the cheque could not be debited from the drawer’s account.
Following my intervention, the cheque was cleared within 24 hours, and the money was available in your account.
To be fair to Santander they added £100 compensation for the inconvenience you had experienced. It’s just a pity it needed me to give them the push to sort the matter out.