ASK TONY: We have $2k of travellers' cheques that we can't cash



23.10.2018 23:08

Many years ago, my wife and I were regular visitors to the U.S., so we purchased a lot of travellers' cheques. Now we are both in our 80s and unable to travel there due to ill health.

I have well over $1,000 in Visa travellers' cheques. The problem is, Visa no longer issues new cheques and I cannot cash these in.

I have tried the Marks & Spencer store where I bought them, but they would not honour them, even though I have the original purchase receipts.  I have tried phoning M&S Bank, which was not helpful. I have also tried other banks and a travel agent.

L. R., Liverpool.

One reader tells how he and his wife used to be regular visitors to the U.S., so they purchased a lot of travellers' cheques but now they cannot cash them in

You are not the first person to come to me after having problems cashing in old travellers' cheques. Having issued the cheques, which do not carry expiry dates, surely it should be incumbent upon the banks to honour them?

I went to Visa, where there was some surprise at the difficulties you are facing. Even though it no longer issues travellers' cheques, it does still support them. I also contacted M&S Bank. After looking at your case, it has offered to cash in the travellers' cheques as a goodwill gesture.

In fact, you have $2,000 worth. And there's an extra piece of good news, because when you bought them in 2004, the exchange rate was running close to $1.90 to £1. Today, it is closer to $1.30.

So you should get considerably more back in pounds than you paid 14 years ago — even allowing for the different rates banks use to buy and sell currency.

M&S Bank says: 'Following a significant reduction in demand for the cheques, due to a decline in outlets accepting the payment method, we stopped offering and encashing them in 2013. Due to the customer's personal circumstances, as a gesture of goodwill we will arrange the encashment of travellers' cheques previously purchased from M&S.'

Visa suggests other readers who find old travellers' cheques should try Travelex (01733 279865 or [email protected]).

You have YOUR say 

Money Mail, October 17

Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some from our article on ways to save money during the festive season...

I don't buy multiple gifts for loved ones, as some friends do. Instead, I spend more money on individual presents. Too many are packed away after Christmas and never see the light of day again. I also like to buy gifts for children in care.

I. R., Basingstoke, Hants.

With the retailers whipping customers into a festive frenzy so early on, it's easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas. It's the simple things that make this time of year so special: the joy of excited children, carol singing and the pleasure of spending time with those we love.

O. N., Somerset.

Until recently, I was giving presents to my brothers, their wives and their children every year. I am single and it cost me a fortune. Last year, I told my brothers not to get me anything and we decided to spend money on the children instead.

B. C., London.

People who moan about Christmas coming too early drive me crazy. If you have a family, the sooner you can start planning, the better. If it's not for you, no one is forcing you to take part. Don't spoil it for those of us who love spending time with family and friends.

M. M., Hessle, East Riding of Yorkshire.

I dread this time of year. I have two teenagers and, of course, every Christmas, they want all the branded stuff. I can never get them everything they ask for — one pair of trainers can cost around £100. To be honest, I can't wait until it's all over!

B. Y., Northern Ireland.

I'm just an ordinary 66-year-old woman and I've known about most of these tips and tricks for a long time. However, I never buy a card or gift for someone who isn't on my list just because they have given me one. I think that's disingenuous.

S. M., Brighton.

I sold my old, perfectly good Amazon Kindle on eBay on a 'no returns' basis, but the buyer complained that it did not work. I advised him how to reset it, but he said the fault had recurred and he wanted a refund. As he said that it was faulty, I agreed to let him return it. However, I found nothing wrong with it and sought from him a return handling charge.

He refused and asked to go to arbitration, where eBay found in his favour. It then charged my PayPal account for the return postage and the full selling fee. It refuses to issue any refund. I have subsequently resold the Kindle at a lower price and have also been charged by eBay for this sale.

P. S., Watford, Herts.

The difficulty for eBay is that it's your word against the buyer's — although, presumably, the second buyer is happy with the Kindle. The fact that you talked about resetting it makes me wonder whether it really was functioning perfectly. I also understand that while the buyer was initially happy to pay the return postage, you also wished to make a 15 pc handling charge.

It was at this point that he decided to go to arbitration. eBay declined your request for a credit for the selling fees because you had not resolved the buyer's issues. If you had resolved them within the 'Seller Make It Right' period, then the fees would have been credited back.

So, while the buyer may have been pernickety, you made things worse for yourself by digging in your heels and attempting to charge a handling fee. In this case, eBay believes there was a genuine breakdown in communication between you and the buyer, so it will refund your postage as a gesture of goodwill.

Npower is trying to force me to pay £1,993.17 for gas and electricity used by a tenant years ago. After I complained, it wrote off the money, but has now reinstated it and threatened to follow up on its demands. I am nearly 83 and have owned the house for many years. It has had a succession of tenants but, since 2015, I have lived in the house while in the UK.

I was never in any contractual agreement to pay for the gas and electricity, but Npower is insisting that I produce the tenancy agreement.

Mrs M. B., London.

I am very uneasy about this case on a number of levels. Npower confirms that you made contact in April 2015 to say you had moved in at the start of August 2014. Yet, for some reason, it chose not to believe you and instead billed you back to April 2013. So it appears it is assuming you were in occupancy without any evidence.

There is also the scale of the bill, which you argue is far larger than your actual usage since you have been in the property. Npower says it simply wants you to produce a tenancy agreement to confirm you were letting the property.

This doesn't seem unreasonable — yet you haven't done it. I can only assume this means you lost it or never had one. Npower has suggested that you contact your council for evidence of who was paying the council tax, but I suspect you will hit General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) problems with this.

At this stage, I am going to step away, as Npower has provided you with a final decision. You cannot give it the evidence it requires, so you should contact the energy ombudsman on 0330 440 1624 or [email protected] 

Straight to the point 

My suitcase was damaged on a Ryanair flight. I'd already left the terminal when I noticed the damage and was not allowed back in to report it, so I logged a claim online. I must have sent 20 emails since then, but the airline will not help.

T. B., by email.

Ryanair says it will not consider your claim without a Property Irregularity Report. This is the form you would have been given had you been allowed back into the luggage hall. I contacted the Civil Aviation Authority, which suggests you escalate your complaint to the AviationADR online at or by calling 0203 540 8063. 


I purchased a dance disc from Grainger Games for my granddaughter, but later had to return it because it was unsuitable. I was told I could not have a cash refund and was instead given a voucher. Then the retailer collapsed, shutting all its stores. Is there any way I can get a refund?

M. T., Sheffield, South Yorks.

When a retailer collapses, anyone with a secured claim, such as a bank, is paid out first. Customers who have gift cards are considered unsecured creditors, so are further down the priority list. Administrator RSM says a small dividend should be paid to unsecured creditors within the next six to 12 months. Submit a claim by writing to: RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP, 1 St James' Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AD, quoting 'Grainger Games'.


In July my son and I were delayed for 90 minutes on a Virgin train from London to Warrington. A few days later, my son, who is my carer, sent a compensation form. We heard nothing, so I wrote a month later. I followed up with a phone call and the member of staff hung up on me. I was then told that it was too late to claim the compensation. I paid £136 for the tickets and find this very frustrating.

M. S., Warrington, Cheshire.

Virgin Trains apologises for the delay and has now refunded you the full price of the tickets. It has also offered you two complimentary first-class tickets as a goodwill gesture. It adds that the member of staff you spoke with on the phone did not hang up on you. The line went dead and they did not have your number to call back.

Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email [email protected] — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.

For current account rewards and interest conditions may apply eg. using provider's full switching service, min deposits and direct debits. For savings, access maybe limited, min/max deposits may apply. See T&Cs. Representative example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

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