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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 14:40 UK time, Monday, 10 October 2011

X-Ray's Lucy Owen talks to Avril and Gerard

 X-Ray's Lucy Owen talks to Avril and Gerard

Avril Peregrine and Gerard Packer from Penllergaer thought they’d found a great deal when they booked a motor home last March. But sadly their road trip hit the skids before they could put the key in the ignition.

The retired couple had always spoken about taking a trip in a motor home with their little dog Megan and in March they decided to take the plunge.

They looked online and came across the Sundrive Hire website which advertised a wide range of motor homes for hire. Avril told X-Ray, "It looked a marvellous site with a wide range of vans to choose from. We decided to go for a Swift Bolero 680FB motor home."

Gerard telephoned the company and booked the campervan for a week in June. He said, "I paid £408 by debit card over the phone and the money was withdrawn from my account within 24 hours. I thought "great! Away we go!"

However, as their holiday approached their booking started to seem less secure. Just three weeks before they were due to travel Sundrive Hire emailed Gerard claiming that they hadn't received payment and therefore the booking was cancelled.

"That's when panic stations set in," said Avril.

Gerard telephoned the company and was told by a staff member that they were still waiting for their payment. Gerard says when he told them he had already paid - Sundrive Hire requested that he send them proof. So Avril and Gerard faxed them a copy of their bank statement and confirmation of their booking. But they never heard anything from the company. When the couple contacted them again to find out what was happening they asked them to send the paperwork again, which Avril and Gerard did. But they didn't hear anything more from Sundrive Hire and they never got the motor home holiday they had dreamed of.

"When I realised the holiday wasn’t going to happen with Sundrive I was so disappointed," Avril told X-Ray. "We'd lost £400 and didn't have our holiday. We couldn't believe it. You never think something like this will happen to you."

X-Ray have written to, emailed and telephoned Sundrive Hire but no one from the company has got back to us.  It seems that they’re no longer trading and the address given for Sundrive Hire is just a mail drop in Shrewsbury. We’ve also been in touch with Trading Standards in Shropshire – they say the company is actually based in London, and they’ve passed on a large number of complaints to the Metropolitan Police.

But, X-Ray didn’t give up.

Avril and Gerard paid for the motor home with Gerard’s Visa debit card and that means he’s covered by Visa’s Chargeback scheme. So we got in touch with the couple’s bank, Lloyds TSB.   The bank says that as the couple are still within the 120 day time limit to reverse the transaction and seem to be the victim of fraud, they are entitled to get their money back.

Advice about Charge Back

Chargeback is a process that allows you to ask your debit card provider to reverse a payment if there is a problem with goods you have purchased, or you don't get the service you've paid for. It applies to all debit cards, although exact rules may vary between the Visa, Maestro and American Express networks. Chargeback also applies to credit cards and is useful where section 75 is not applicable – for example, for goods costing less than £100.

There's no minimum or maximum limit on a claim but it must be lodged within 120 days of the transaction. If you think you're entitled to make a claim through chargeback you should contact the bank that provides your debit card - they will then try to claim the money through the merchant's bank. It's still a fairly unknown process so if you have any trouble making a claim, try asking for a supervisor.


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