Air Canada at fault for more than lost baggage | Pricewatch reader queries

Plus: A reader is pursued by creditors despite debt-relief notice

"I am really, really hoping you can help me," starts a mail from a reader, Orna. "Five weeks ago I embarked on my holidays to visit my brother in Vancouver," she writes. She flew Air Canada and arrived in Vancouver. Her luggage, however, did not.

“I was extremely upset and distressed. They assured me it would arrive the next day. Cut to nearly six weeks later, and I am back in Dublin with no luggage. I have received one phone call from them during this time and I have been given no update on the status of my luggage. I have phoned, emailed, tweeted, Facebook-messaged, begged and pleaded – and nothing.”

She says that when she calls the company, the phone just rings out. She still has no idea if her luggage is lost or delayed.

“This is causing me huge stress, as there were valuables in the bag and also items of great sentimental value. I have also posted my baggage claim form to the company twice, and it claims it has not received it, losing the original receipts. I was also offered a pittance of $150 (€136) to purchase clothes while over there, during that one-time phone call. I am absolutely devastated. I really do not know what to do at this point and I am really, really hoping someone can help me.”


We contacted the company and asked whether it was normal practice for the airline to treat its passengers like this.

Eventually, a spokeswoman responded with the following statement. “We are very sorry to hear that [our reader’s] baggage was misplaced. Air Canada is committed to providing its customers with quality service at all times and we have contacted [her] directly to apologise for the inconvenience caused.

“In this instance, we will provide appropriate compensation in line with our terms and conditions of carriage.”

A debt relief notice that did nothing to relieve stress

On September 17th, 2014, a reader was awarded a debt-relief notice (DRN) thanks to the help of an intermediary from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs). A DRN is intended to give relief from debt to people who have little or no disposable income or assets that they could use to repay what they owe. To qualify, their debts cannot exceed €20,000, and the process enables insolvent debtors to write off their debts if they are unable to pay them.

“Two weeks later, my largest creditor sold my debt to another company, which proceeded to contact me looking for payment,” she says. “On the phone I told them that would be the first and last time I would talk to them. I talked them through how to look me up on the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) list online and told them that the DRN was awarded before they bought the debt, and all communications must go through the DRN department. I received two letters from them, in October and December, after which I reported them to my case manager.

“Then a different creditor started phoning me, claiming to know nothing about the DRN, and became quite intimidating on the phone. They had refused to co-operate with the intermediary when we were seeking the DRN, which is on the record. I directed them again to my case manager, and reported them too.

“I will say I haven’t heard anything since I reported them in writing to my case worker. The companies, however, don’t have my new address, so they might be sending letters out to my old house, though I haven’t heard anything from my old landlord. The ISI is aware of my new address, for the record.”

She says that “all their communication has resulted in is a massive amount of stress and paranoia. Even though the ISI has assured me my debts are still covered, [the creditors] lack of regard for the protections promised by the legislation has left me waiting for the next call, letter, or even someone showing up on my doorstep.”

We contacted David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Association, who is accustomed to dealing with lenders. He put the repeated contacts down to “teething problems”. He told us that lenders “are not organised, and there are few DRNs by compassion to those with mortgage and unsecured debt.” In this case, he said that the DRN stands and the debt is covered, so the debt collectors can make all the noise they want, but they have no power over our reader and can do nothing to intimidate her.