Grace on the Case: Our six stand out stories of 2021

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This year marked one year of Grace on the Case with our consumer reporter helping hundreds of people claw back cash.

Cases have ranged from helping holidaymakers battle for money from travel providers to ensuring elderly readers successfully claim pay outs from insurers.

Wins have ranged from the hundreds to hundreds of thousands of pounds, helping a wide variety of consumers across the year.

Looking back over the past year, This is Money’s Grace on the Case reveals six stand out wins that she has found unusual and felt satisfied getting the money back. 

Grace on the Case celebrated one year in November with thousands won back for consumers

Grace on the Case celebrated one year in November with thousands won back for consumers

1. It turns out my stolen car was already stolen

The first case is one of the most memorable Grace on the Case articles. A reader purchased a Ford Fiesta via Auto Trader for £8,623.

Unfortunately, it was then stolen and so he reported it to the police. However, a few days later, the police said the car was actually already a stolen vehicle with another vehicle’s identity at the time he had purchased it.

This meant he was unable to make a claim through his insurer and Auto Trader would not admit any responsibility.

To be told your stolen car was already stolen at the time of purchase was obviously a massive blow for the reader and meant he was nearly £9,000 out of pocket.

We contacted Auto Trader to explain the situation and fortunately it agreed to give him a full refund. 

However, it serves as a warning to anyone looking to buy online – always do your research.  

2. I was told my sofa was stained because I sat on it wearing clothes

This story is perhaps one of the most unusual Grace on the Case tales. It relates to a reader who ordered a white reclining sofa from retailer, Sofology, at a cost of £1,100.

Some weeks after the sofa arriving, the white leather started turning dark and the cleaning kit bought from the store wasn’t helping to lift the marks.

The firm sent a technician round to see what was happening and, shockingly, the reader was told the transfer was from clothing and the cleaning kit would do nothing. 

The technician added the only way to avoid transference was to sit in the chair unclothed.

Obviously, a sofa is meant for sitting on – clothed – so the advice was pretty bizarre.

After we contacted Sofology, it initially sent another technician round to examine the sofa before eventually agreeing to send another chair, free of charge.  

A reader was told his white sofa was getting stained as he was lounging on it wearing clothes (stock image)

A reader was told his white sofa was getting stained as he was lounging on it wearing clothes (stock image)

3. My late husband’s life insurer will not pay out 

Onto one of the biggest wins for a consumer on Grace on the Case, this story sadly involved a young widow left to look after two small children.

The widow got in touch to say her husband had died unexpectedly last year. After his passing, she put in a life insurance claim with Legal & General with the fund sitting at £106,000.

Months passed and she had heard nothing and after chasing up, she was told, the doctors had not sent over the medical records needed to process the claim. 

Another six months after that, Legal & General had still not chased for the records and had not progressed the claim at all.

The reader made clear she urgently needed the money now to avoid having to move home and take care of her young children.

We contacted Legal & General to ask why it was taking so long to organise a transfer of the funds.

It admitted there were unacceptable delays and it had failed to reach its ‘usual high standards’.

We’ve won back nearly £400k for readers this year  

Grace on the Case has won readers back £388,840.23 over the course of a year, from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

The weekly column sees This is Money consumer expert Grace Gausden tackle reader problems and shines the light on companies doing both good and bad.

If you have a problem you want investigating or want to praise a firm for going that extra mile, get in touch: [email protected]

4. VW Financial Services told me I’d paid off my late husband’s car but then demanded an extra £13,000

In a similar vein, this story was very important as it helped another widow left with financial difficulties after her husband’s passing.

The reader’s husband bought a new Skoda Octavia through a car loan agreement in September 2019 but he sadly passed away unexpectedly in 2020.

Following his death, Volkswagen Financial Services said she had to pay £7,743.32 as the full and final settlement figure which meant she would have ownership of the car.

However, a few weeks later, she was told that was actually a voluntary termination figure and she still owed them a further £13,416.67 to clear the finance.

This was a huge amount of money and she was unable to settle probate until the situation was sorted which was causing much stress at a time when she wanted to grieve in peace.

There was much back and forth trying to get this situation sorted but weeks after we first contacted VWFS, it finally agreed that she could keep the car, without having to pay the additional £13,416.67, vetoing the amount completely.

This meant the reader could settle probate and focus her attentions on settling her husband’s estate. 

UPS are charging customers, who are awaiting international deliveries, fees on their doorstep

UPS are charging customers, who are awaiting international deliveries, fees on their doorstep

5. UPS refused to deliver my parcel from Belgium unless I paid £368 in unspecified taxes

This story has spawned a host of others after revealing a massive flaw for shoppers buying items internationally.

6. Offers to pay off debt

Recently, we investigated the case of a cancer survivor who had an overdraft debt of £2,000 that had been passed on to debt collectors.

She agreed to a £50 a month payment plan she was happy with. This was then suspended in the pandemic and after the hold was removed, for whatever reason, she had to reapply to repay this amount.

She was subsequently threatened with a CCJ against her name – a harsh and cruel move for a person who should be focusing on her health, rather than this stress. We managed to get her back on that plan and we believed that was the end of it…

Until two of you lovely readers wrote in and offered, anonymously, to clear her debt. She was blown away by the gesture but politely declined – insisting that there were charities out there that needed the money far more than she did.

A reader ordered a Queen’s Beasts 1oz gold coin from a company based in Belgium for £1,760 and it was dispatched using UPS.

The delivery firm told him there was a £368.43 government charge he needed to pay, even though he was told there was no VAT or any tax at all on investment gold.

When UPS came to deliver the parcel, it wouldn’t hand it over without the money being paid which he refused.  

After Brexit, UK consumers saw a number of changes to taxes and fees they had to pay for international goods.

Advice on this is not very clear online and it seems some delivery firms are pulling numbers out the air.  

Fortunately, in this case, after I contacted UPS, the firm admitted it had applied the incorrect charges and decided to deliver the coin without charging hundreds extra.

However, many others have been left in a similar boat, being charged hundreds of pounds, not knowing if they are correct or not. 

To read more about this case, click here. For customers who need advice, take a look at This is Money’s article here.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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