My husband’s military pension in £4,000 a year less than forecast… is there anything we can do?

Every Saturday, The Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.

Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for selling your home and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.

Judge Rinder

 Judge Rinder helps a reader with a pension issue
Judge Rinder helps a reader with a pension issue

Q) MY HUSBAND received his military pension forecast 12 months ago and we made arrangements accordingly. But now he’s received his pension it is £4,000 a year less than the forecast.

We queried this but were told the amount received was correct. This lower figure has now resulted in us having to scrap all of the plans we had made.

I suffer with ill health and was going to give up my job on the strength of the forecast. Is there anything we can do as the pension provider has openly admitted that it has made a mistake?

Stella, Oxford

A) This is an awful situation. Sadly fighting this is going to be challenging. The pension company’s mistake is unlikely to give you legal grounds to force it to pay out the sum it originally forecast.

You need to go to the company’s website where I suspect that you will find (in the unreadable small print) wording which suggests that the value of the pension is to be calculated from the date it is due to be paid. However, this is not the end of the matter.

You could still have a case – albeit a difficult one. This company effectively made a promise to you which you relied upon and which it failed to honour.

There are legal remedies available to you in these circumstances. You would have to bring a claim for what is known as promissory estoppel. This is a tough case to bring and would require some legal muscle.

Given how important this is to you and the seriousness of the company’s mistake (which it has now admitted), I would urge you to contact a solicitor as soon as possible.

Q) I AM at my wits’ end. I rent my flat from an estate agent and more than five weeks ago I reported that my toilet was broken. Since then, nothing has been done and I keep getting fobbed off with the excuse that the plumber is busy. What are my legal rights? Am I entitled to stop paying rent?
Mark, London

A) Do not stop paying your rent yet. You are absolutely entitled to have the toilet fixed. Your landlord is in serious breach of the contract you have with them and – possibly – a number of laws requiring them to ensure that your flat is safe and sanitary. You may be entitled to withhold payment of rent in these circumstances, but you need to be sure that the landlord has been given a reasonable opportunity to resolve the problem.

Write to the landlord making clear that they are in breach of contract and that you expect a repair within seven days or you reserve your right to bring an action against them. If they don’t reply, inform the landlord you are getting the toilet repaired yourself and then send them the bill. Your landlord would have no legal grounds whatsoever to refuse to pay up.

Jane Hamilton, property expert

 Jane Hamilton gives tips to people who are selling their homes

Stewart Williams – The Sun

Jane Hamilton gives tips to people who are selling their homes

COULD Brexit hit your house sale? Some agents report that buyers are putting purchases on hold in the hope of a Brexit house price drop, while others claim it’s business as usual. Here’s how sellers can Brexit-proof their pad.

NEGOTIATE: Selling a house relies on both sides feeling that they have got a good deal. Set an achievable price by doing your own online research and then asking at least three agents for their valuation. It’s likely that a sensibly-priced home will sell more quickly.

TAKE BACK CONTROL: Don’t feel that your agent is doing a good enough job? Then do it yourself. Sites such as allow you to list your home online yourself. Also you can use social media, local adverts or leaflet nearby homes. You won’t attract the same footfall as professional platforms, but you never know. But do check your contract, so you don’t owe your agent a fee if you sell privately.

BE PREPARED: Set up a mortgage for your onward property and get a surveyor and solicitor in place to do your conveyancing. The better prepared you are, the faster you can move when you land a buyer.

STRONG AND STABLE: Carry out any repairs or decorating work your property needs so viewers can see it’s a good buy. Declutter and highlight any of your home’s exciting or unusual features.

DEAL OR NO DEAL? Be realistic – more money doesn’t always mean the best offer. An offer from a first-time buyer with no chain is likely to proceed quicker than someone offering more but with a number of sales holding theirs together. Accepting £10,000 less may not be as stressful as waiting in a lengthy chain. Remember – like Brexit – “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

Buy of the week

WE are quitting the city for a life in the country sooner than ever. The average age of those who turn their back on the rat race is 37, a drop of ten years from a decade ago, a new study shows.

Grab your own slice of rural idyll with this picture-perfect two-bed cottage in the village of Hathern, Lincs. It’s yours for £220,000 at

WILL you have to pay until you’re grey? More than half of all residential mortgage products now offer a maximum term of up to 40 years – a third higher than just five years ago, research from money shows.

Darren Cook, finance expert at Moneyfacts, says: “Historically, a standard mortgage term generally amounted to 25 years, but most products are now available to be extended for a period of 40 years.

“By extending their term, borrowers may be looking to reduce their monthly repayments and therefore are more likely to meet strict affordability requirements.”

Deal of the week

DITCH droopy daffs and keep your blooms looking beautiful for ever with this cute glass flower and vase ornament. Was £12, now £10.20 at
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Mel Hunter, Reader’s champion

 Mel Hunter advises on consumer issues

The Sun

Mel Hunter advises on consumer issues

Q) MY SISTER and I went to Gran Canaria with TUI. As we are both disabled, we waited by the hotel reception for the coach to pick us up to travel home, as we had arranged with the operator.

Unfortunately, no one came to get us and the coach left without us. We had to wait four more days until the next flight to Gatwick, which cost us around £450 each, plus spending money.

Then our flight was delayed. We were left in our wheelchairs in the departure lounge for six hours, with no information and nothing to eat or drink. I take a large amount of medication but had run out due to the delay and was in a lot of pain.

It was a disastrous and distressing end to our holiday. We feel we were badly let down by TUI.

Diane, Rochester, Kent

A) This sounds like a terrible experience, leaving you and your sister massively out of pocket. Over the six months since you’d returned you’d struggled to get a satisfactory response from TUI.

Initially, the travel company said it wasn’t aware of your welfare requirements. However, the special assistance was confirmed both when you booked and when you checked in on the outward leg.

TUI claims that confusion arose because you booked through another company, Thomas Cook.

A spokesman says: “We could have done more for these customers. We’ve refunded the cost of their new flights, plus extra expenses incurred. We’ve also offered a gesture of goodwill.”

 John Lewis are usually good with their customer service so something definitley went badly wrong here


John Lewis are usually good with their customer service so something definitley went badly wrong here

Q) I CANCELLED my subscription with fashion site JustFab last year, but it has continued to take £35 from my bank most months since.

I’ve sent nearly 50 emails but it continues to take the money, even though my account is now no longer active. I can’t even log in to it.

Julieann Brennan, by email

JustFab told me you appeared to have two accounts and that one was still active. However, as far as you were concerned, both had been shut down last summer.

JustFab looked into it again and it turns out that one of the accounts had not been closed.

It has now agreed to refund the £140 that you had paid out since.

Q) I BOUGHT a TV from the John Lewis website in January 2016 which came with a five-year guarantee. The TV broke in November 2018. John Lewis sent an engineer who took the set away at the beginning of December.

A week later, the store rang to say it couldn’t be repaired and it would replace it with a similar model.

A delivery date was arranged but, on that morning, I was sent a text message saying it was unable to deliver. I phoned customer services and was told the matter would be looked into.

Many weeks on, I’ve heard nothing.

Michael Carpenter, Northampton


A) John Lewis is famed for its customer service, but something went badly wrong here.

So, I got in touch.

Although I wasn’t given a clear explanation of what had happened, I did manage to secure you a replacement TV, plus an extra £150 goodwill gesture.


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