If you’ve ever seen kids driving around in cars with copious amounts of extra body kit, lowered suspension and massive exhausts, this is a sobering lesson in what doing that to a car does to it’s resale value, and to your insurance premiums…
I didnâ€™t set out to get a Marbles Credit Card, I sort of got sold into it.
A few years back we changed around our credit cards, in particular we took the advice of the Money Saving Expert site and swapped to credit cards that provided benefits or perks. It has definitely been a good move as we get a steady although small cash back on one card, but the other, which gets us frequent flyer miles has now taken us twice to Canada and back on free miles. The only downside was that on one of the old cards in particular we had built up a pretty good credit limit. Whilst we never came anywhere near needing to use it, it was reassuring that in a crisis we knew we could use that card.
In order to keep the account ticking over, I had a monthly charge of Â£4.75 going through on the card every month, which with the repayments cover of 4p a month for that size of balance was a grand total of Â£4.79.
A couple of months ago we got a letter from the card issuer saying that they were getting out of the credit card business, and that they had sold all their accounts to another company, who were â€œreassuringly backedâ€? by the Bank of Scotland â€“ although that is perhaps somewhat less reassuring considering what a mess certain other parts of HBOS are likeâ€¦ Alongside this, the new owners seem to have transferred all of their customers like us onto the Marbles brand credit card that they had also brought. The transfer was all automatic, so largely I wasnâ€™t expecting to have to make any changes.
Then yesterday the first bill arrived, for Â£5.54. A quick check found that I was now being charged 79p for the repayments cover about 16% of the outstanding balance rather than less than 1% â€“ not a problem, Iâ€™d just phone up and have it taken off.
I phoned up the call centre who said that unfortunately they couldnâ€™t take the repayments cover off, and to have it stopped I would have to contact the insurance company that provided the product. (The joke here is that the same customer advisors at Marbles can add it onto the account themselves without a problem, they just canâ€™t remove it.) The customer service operator then provided a phone number for me to phone. Unfortunately they were closed for staff training last night, so I had to wait until this morning. However when I phoned this morning before even answering the call there was a recorded message saying that this number could not remove insurance products and that you needed to talk to the card issuer. When I eventually spoke to a real person they said that they were quite frequently getting calls from Marbles customers who had been redirected to them by Marbles.
Phoning back the Marbles call centre, they double checked, and this was the number they were being told to give out.
At this point I was starting to get fed up, so I phoned the company that were making the monthly charge, and within about two minutes swapped it over to another source, and then went back to Marbles, and I think I ended up with a trainee.
He started off okay but once Iâ€™d prompted him over the right questions to ask, he then, with my customer record in front of him showing that Iâ€™d phoned five minutes before, proceeded to ask me whether my contact details had changed since Iâ€™d last called â€“ probably not the best question to ask when Iâ€™d spent about twenty minutes bouncing between call centres with the problem. â€œNot in the last five minutes they havenâ€™tâ€? I retorted. I then asked him again whether he could terminate the charge to which, as with all the others he said no, they couldnâ€™t do it, so I just told him to terminate the account. There was a short pause, at which point he said â€œBut youâ€™ve got an outstanding balance.â€? â€“ I told him that I wasnâ€™t proposing not to pay that, but that the one regular charge on the card had been moved, and that since they were incapable of terminating a simple charge I was terminating instead, at which point he agreed to close the account without any further argument â€“ in fact it was remarkably quick to terminate the account unlike the multiple phone calls to try and terminate a simple repayments charge.
One interesting little post script is that a colleague at work half jokingly suggested that maybe the front line call centre staff are told to say that they canâ€™t remove the charge, as since the charging structure for the repayments insurance is 79p per outstanding Â£100 or part thereof, it is a bit of a money spinner. The introduction message on calling the Marbles number goes to great pains to highlight that other cover is available, but certainly it seems that getting rid of the cover once youâ€™ve got it is rather difficult, and Iâ€™m not the first person to encounter problems if the agent at the insurance company is to be believed. Iâ€™m perhaps not quite as suspicious as my colleague, so maybe itâ€™s just a mistake somewhere in the process of handing over the card accounts, and one that will be ironed out in the future. Suffice to say as an ex-Marbles customer I wonâ€™t be around to find out.
As you may have heard, our recent trip to Canada with Lucy didnâ€™t quite go according to plan. As babies are prone to do, Lucy has been picking up all sorts of coughs and colds, annoying, but not usually too much of a problem. Unfortunately for us she picked up a really nasty one in Canada, a respiratory syncytial virus or RSV which clogged up her chest with mucus leaving her struggling to breath without coughing.
Not surprisingly that left us taking a trip to the local hospital twice during the trip, the second time being the day before we were due to head home when the doctors said that she was unfit to fly and decided to keep Lucy and Beth in hospital, Lucy on Oxygen and Ventolin. Ultimately they had to stay an extra ten days until the infection cleared up, and the doctor was happy to clear them to fly.
The way the travel insurance policy works is that the policyholder pays direct expenses, including any outpatient or emergency room costs, and the the hospital and insurance company settle directly for any inpatient treatment. Weâ€™d already paid and claimed for the emergency room visit – $560 CDN as the Alberta health service charges a flat daily rate for visits to the emergency room â€“ plus assorted other sundry expenses for follow up visits to the doctor and for medication, but since the hospital and insurance company were settling up directly, we hadnâ€™t seen the final cost. However this morning an invoice turned up from the hospital, which theyâ€™d incorrectly sent to the patient address rather than the insurance company – $6797 CDN in total for the hospital stay bringing the grand total for the whole illness to $7623 CDN, just over Â£4300. For friends and family in Alberta itâ€™s been a bit of an eye opener too, as they just hand over their Alberta Health card and never see the bills.
All of which dwarfs the size of even a single trip travel insurance policy â€“ and remember we were lucky in that the insurance company werenâ€™t having to pay for extra accommodation, or for special flights back. True you might never need it, but weâ€™re sure glad we had a good travel insurance policyâ€¦