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Martin Lewis: reclaiming - could you be owed £1,000s?
Are you owed £10,000s? It sounds a ludicrous lottery-esque question. Yet, sadly, in recent years our country's been so rife with mis-selling, poor service and performance that many are able to reclaim big money. Crucially, you don’t need to pay anyone.
I’ve been campaigning about reclaiming for years, and each time I launch a new one, a claims handler somewhere jumps on the back offering to do it for a 30% cut. You can do it yourself, just as easily, for free.
Check for hidden insurance added to loans, cards, mortgages and more
You've almost certainly heard of PPI reclaiming. But it's important to understand you may have PPI without knowing – even if you were asked if you wanted it and rejected it.
This insurance that usually covered debt repayments for just a year was systemically mis-sold by banks. Over £12 BILLION's been paid back, and much more's still due. Instructions and free template letters are at www.mse.me/PPI
The proof: I've had 5m of my templates downloaded so far. Here's Ingrid, via email: "Thanks so much for giving me the courage to reclaim my PPI - I've received £35,000. It's been life-changing."
Shop at Tesco?
Many Tesco Clubcard holders lose or forget to use vouchers sent out for points earned shopping. Yet you can quickly claw back two years of unused vouchers to print out or use online by logging into www.tesco.com’s Clubcard section’s ‘Find Your Vouchers' bit.
The proof: One of my site users, AnnaV: "WOW - I've got £413 of unspent vouchers. Ridiculously excited."
Been delayed on a flight since 2007?
For most flights to or from the EU, if you were delayed over three hours, you're due £200 - £500 per person. It must be the airline's fault, so weather and security issues don't count. Full help and template letters at www.mse.me/flightdelays
The proof: Amanda, emailed saying: "I used the template to complain to Thomas Cook about a delayed flight to Egypt in 2010. It's compensating us £1,040. Made my day."
Mis-sold CPP card protection?
Over 7 million were mis-sold credit card and identity. theft cover. £1.3bn has been allocated to compensate those targeted.
A redress scheme to guarantee you money back if you were mis-sold in 2005 or later was given the thumbs up by the High Court on 14 January.
Anyone mis-sold will be auto-informed and able to reclaim, so keep an eye out - claim forms will arrive in Feb. We've already seen big payback successes, from those complaining directly.
The proof: Martin (another Martin) emailed his story: "I received a cheque for £461 which included interest."
Are you in the wrong council tax band?
Check you’re not in too high a band, up to 400,000 may be, because the original English and Scottish valuations were done at speed and not meant to last the 23 years they have.
Not only can you get your band lowered, but a back-dated rebate from when you moved in. First see if neighbours in identical or similar properties are in lower bands via www.voa.gov.uk (www.saa.gov.uk in Scotland).
Then use the web to value your house for free, and convert it back to its key 1991 price. See www.mse.me/council for a special calculator and how to safely reclaim.
The proof: Kay, via email, told me she was in Band F, while others of a similar size were Band E. She says: "I phoned the Valuation Office on 4 October 2013. On 6 December, I received a call to say my tax band had been reduced to a Band E. I got £3,300."
Wear uniform to work?
If you wear a branded T-shirt, overalls or a nurses' uniform for work (not just fun), wash it yourself and don't wear it elsewhere, you're entitled to a tax rebate each year.
Many haven't claimed, so can get a backdated payout going back four years. Just write a letter to the taxman with details and it should work, if you need further help or templates see www.mse.me/uniform
The proof: One of my site users Jinx80 says: "I rang the tax office and I'm getting a rebate of £60/year for the last four years. Really chuffed I didn't use a middleman."
Racked up big fees for going beyond your overdraft?
Rumours of the death of bank charge reclaiming are greatly exaggerated (especially by the banks, funnily enough). The door's nowhere near as wide open as it used to be, but if the charges have put you in financial hardship, reclaiming is possible. Full help and templates at www.moneysavingexpert.com/bankcharges
The proof: Carol emailed and explains: "Although I was a bit sceptical, I sent the template. My bank contacted me to say it would refund my charges + interest - over £2,000."
Do you pay (have you paid) a fee each month for your bank account?
Fee-charging packaged bank accounts are great for some, but useless, or worse, mis-sold for many. If you signed up by a sales call or 'upgrade', rather than actively choosing it yourself, mis-selling's far more likely.
Typically, you'd be upgraded to an account with travel insurance, but weren't told you're excluded for your age, or pre-existing conditions. Make a formal complaint to the bank, and if they reject it, take your case to the free financial Ombudsman service.
The proof: Linda emailed me her story: "Thanks for alerting me. I was told I had to have the account in order to get an overdraft. I got over £1,500 compensation in three weeks."
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