TONY HETHERINGTON: Compensation? My buy-to-lets are fine

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I was contacted out of the blue by a convincing Kate Masters of Delta Litigation in Spain. She claimed to be contacting clients of Instant Access Properties Limited and said she could get me compensation in connection with buy-to-let properties I purchased on IAP’s recommendation. 

In a series of emails, Masters said she could get me £39,639 for ‘illegal misrepresentation’ and ‘over-inflated rental return forecasts’. 

But I would have to pay £875 for ‘notary and court fees’ which I would get back with the compensation in about a year. In fact, the buy-to-let flats purchased on IAP’s recommendations have performed well. J.Q.

One reader said they were being asked paying up-front fees for compensation around some buy-to-let property purchases that have actually performed well

One reader said they were being asked paying up-front fees for compensation around some buy-to-let property purchases that have actually performed well

Tony Hetherington replies: Delta Litigation clearly thought you would be dazzled at the prospect of £39,639 and would immediately fork out £875 in up-front fees. I doubt if it crossed anyone’s mind that although Instant Access Properties Limited is now in liquidation, you might actually have been happy with the flats you bought.

With this in mind I took a closer look at Delta Litigation and the questions began to pile up. Delta Litigation turned out to be a name used by a company called Litigation Services, based in Fuengirola, Spain. But when I checked Spanish company records, I found that Litigation Services describes itself as a construction firm.

The Delta Litigation website says it provides legal services, but in another contradiction, when it registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a collector of personal data, it told them it was a marketing and advertising agency. Delta proudly displays the Office’s logo on its website, presumably as a sign it is legitimate. But the regulator told me: ‘We do not authorise the use of our logo to any organisation, unless one of our employees is at an event and the logo is used next to the speaker’s profile.’

The betting slip mystery… where there are no winners

J.H. writes: I placed a bet at the Betfred shop in Tilehurst, Reading, and the horse won. Next day, I went to collect my winnings and was told the money had already been paid out at the Betfred shop in Friar Street, also in Reading. I explained this was not possible as I had the betting slip and I handed it over. But the area manager still would not pay out. My son asked Betfred about its surveillance system and was told it was not clear who collected the winnings. The company suggested I contact the Fraud Squad, which I did, but received no reply.

Tony Hetherington replies: I asked fficials at Betfred’s head office to look into this. I asked whether the punter who collected the winnings also handed over a betting slip and if so, whether the two slips had been compared.

Betfred’s reply was that you did not in fact hand over a betting slip at its Tilehurst shop. It insists there was only one slip and it was handed in at Friar Street. According to Betfred, you or your son were advised to report the matter to the police and the betting shop would then hand over its CCTV recording. When nothing was heard for three weeks, the recording was wiped.

All that can now be said is that the winnings were collected on the same day the bet was placed by an elderly man dressed in a light-coloured jacket. I know you have also complained to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, which arbitrates in disputes like this.

Its verdict, which I have seen, is that Betfred behaved correctly and in the absence of any other evidence I have to say that I would have had to reach the same conclusion.

That raises a big question mark over the person behind the Delta website. It was set up by Roger James, who gave an address in Crewe, Cheshire, but seems to spend a fair bit of time in Spain.

I have come across Mr James before. In 2009 and 2010 I warned against a trio of connected compensation claims companies: Glovista Red, European Mediation and Earlstream Consultants. All were rip-offs, promising the earth, charging up-front fees and then delivering nothing. All used a Manchester address, but the strings were pulled from Spain. In the wake of The Mail on Sunday’s warnings, all three were shut down by the High Court.

The man behind Glovista Red and Earlstream Consultants was Roger James. He also admitted he carried out marketing work for the third company, European Mediation. Now he is linked closely to Delta Litigation.

Litigation Services told me it had described itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office as a marketing business because that is what Delta Litigation does – though not what Litigation Services claims to do. It had ‘addressed’ the fact that Spanish records have it as a construction firm.

It insisted claims against Instant Access are ‘proceeding very well’, but offered no details about exactly how it was claiming against a company that has been in liquidation for years. But crucially, Litigation Services admitted: ‘Mr James is employed by our company, occasionally, in a marketing capacity.’ Frankly, that would be enough to convince me that you should steer clear.

Your battle with Hastings leads to a premium result

D.B. writes: My car insurance premium with Hastings Direct was £410 last year. My renewal quote was for £897, more than double. It showed the previous premium was £665 and not the actual £410. A cynic might think this was intentional. I spoke to a representative but they were unable to explain the huge increase or the inaccurate figure for last year. They offered to run another quote for me which came out at £479. Asking for £897 and then immediately reducing it to £479 after a single phone call is quite appalling.

Result: The Hastings car premium went down to £427 after Tony contacted the company 

Result: The Hastings car premium went down to £427 after Tony contacted the company 

Result: The Hastings car premium went down to £427 after Tony contacted the company 

Tony Hetherington replies: Hastings Direct confirmed you did indeed pay £410 for car insurance last year. But during the year, you changed cars to one worth £12,000 more.

Under rules set by the Financial Conduct Authority, insurers are supposed to issue renewal notices that tell you what you would have paid for a year’s cover on your new car and not to show the figure that you actually paid for your old car. This is so you can make a like-for-like comparison. If you had insured your new car a year ago, you would have paid £665. The current premium would be £857, not £897, according to the insurer.

But you have come out of this well. Hastings Direct has listened to a recording of your call and it agrees its calculations could have been explained better. It has not been able to duplicate the calculation that produced a £479 premium.

Apparently its agent offered to charge just £427 and it will stick to this even though it is below the correct premium. 

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CREDIT CARDS





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