Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q I was rung up out of the blue by some guy who said he could do a great deal for me on DSG shares. I smelled a rat immediately and started to put my running shoes on. The only thing that got to me was the fact that their website appeared to confirm they were genuine and were registered with the Financial Services Authority? Is this a scam?
A It sure is. Your instincts were right to run a mile from these telephone fraudsters. No stranger contacts you to see you in clover, and putting the phone down pronto on fraudulent ‘boiler room’ offers always makes sense.
The website directs you to a clever pastiche of the FSA’s regulatory pages, which contains an entry for an offshore company. The company is ostensibly registered in the USA, and may or may not know that their site is being used to help swindle unsuspecting investors out of their money. Your suspicions and reaction was spot on.
Q Can you help me with a problem I have with HSBC bank? I wanted to sell a second home to raise some cash, but some time ago the bank put a charge on the property which does not appear to have been lifted when the debt was cleared. The bank says because the charge is still registered I can’t sell it. This is a nonsense and I’m going around in circles with them.
A This was a very unusual case. The land registry confirmed there was still a charge on the property so the bank appeared to be on firm ground. After some argy bargy it emerged you had sufficient proof that the debt had been discharged, and the bank had made an error in not ensuring the charging order was removed at the same time.
After I supplied the bank with the information from the official court register that the debt had been paid, they finally did the decent thing by admitting their mistake and set about removing the charge. You are now free to sell the property.
As a gesture of goodwill, I was assured a cheque for £50 has also been sent to you.
Q We’ve got a dispute with the Ford about supplying a replacement engine for our Ford S-Max and other servicing work.
The total cost to us would amount to £6,630 for defects, which the garage confirms is down to a defective oil pump. Ford will not budge. Could you advise us about our legal position and where we can go from here?
N & RW (Internet)
A Taking this matter to court could be tricky, and is not to be recommended except as a very last resort.
As Ford appears to be unwilling to accept the car had a dodgy oil pump from new which would ultimately result in an expensive repair, I suggest you use the free arbitration service provided by the car maker’s trade body, The society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
For advice on using the service, and how to make a complaint, call free on 0800 692 0825.