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    TONY HETHERINGTON: My Nectar card was emptied while I slept

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    My Nectar account was cleaned out, when I was at home, asleep in bed: TONY HETHERINGTON investigates

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    Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

    Ms M.A. writes: My Nectar account was cleaned out just before midnight, when I was at home, asleep in bed. 

    Nectar say it is up to Sainsbury’s to deal with this. 

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    However, Sainsbury’s say they cannot do anything without CCTV to show that I was not in the store, and they have deleted the camera recording. 

    Sour taste: Nectar has been a leaky ship – cardholders who complain are fobbed off, told to contact the police, not the store, or that Sainsbury’s itself has destroyed the evidence

    Tony Hetherington replies: Nectar is owned by Sainsbury’s, so when you complained to Nectar, you might think that a bit of joined-up management could have been employed, rather than Nectar shrugging its shoulders at you. And you did try very hard to deal with this yourself, before you contacted me. 

    You telephoned both Nectar and Sainsbury’s to report that points worth about £60 had been stolen from your account. You even went to the store where your missing points had been spent. It is the Sainsbury’s branch at Sury Basin in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey. You were told that the manager would phone you, but no call came, and when you returned to the store you were told the CCTV recording no longer existed. 

    Sainsbury’s insisted to you that the only way your Nectar points could have been spent was by your card being swiped, but you are just as insistent that your card never leaves your wallet until you hand it over at the till. 

    You suspect that someone, possibly within Sainsbury’s, could have downloaded the details without your knowledge, in what you told me would be a breathtaking lack of security. 

    Your own detective work uncovered a sympathetic member of staff who revealed that your points had been spent on shopping that included two large packs of babies’ nappies. Sainsbury’s described this as ‘normal shopping’, and added that your points had also purchased alcohol and a toy train. 

    You were told that this ‘does not appear suspicious by our normal investigation standards’, and that if you thought there was anything suspicious then you should go to the police, not Sainsbury’s. 

    As you had already told the store giant that you were in bed asleep, miles away from Sury Basin, and with your Nectar card in your wallet, you might imagine that this could be enough to rouse suspicion.

    Nonetheless, Sainsbury’s regarded your trip as normal shopping, and that you, a senior citizen, might well have bought lots of nappies and a toy train. I did ask Sainsbury’s whether you had ever bought nappies and toys before. I also asked how long CCTV recordings are kept before being erased. The company did concede after all that these two items were not in line with your regular shopping, but they offered no answers about the missing CCTV coverage. 

    All Sainsbury’s would say in the end was: ‘We are in contact with Mrs A to arrange a new Nectar account and refund her missing points. We have also apologised for the inconvenience this may have caused.’ 

    Sadly, the theft of Nectar points is not unusual. This is the third case I have reported on in the past few months. In one case, the genuine cardholder was told Sainsbury’s did not believe there had been any fraud, implying that he himself was the crook. 

    In another, Sainsbury’s tried to say the customer had authorised someone else to have an extra card on their account, but they refused to produce any evidence of this. 

    Nectar is a leaky ship. Cardholders who complain are fobbed off, told to contact the police, not the store, or that Sainsbury’s itself has destroyed the evidence. Only after a struggle are stolen points replaced. Either there are bad eggs among the staff, or the cards themselves are too easy to forge and duplicate. Or perhaps both are true. Either way, this Nectar leaves a sour taste.

    I lost £5,400 on cancelled California trip 

    D.C. writes: I booked flights to California for the trip of a lifetime with my 85-year-old father. 

    The booking agent was Mytrip and the flights were with Aer Lingus, but the flights were cancelled because of the pandemic. 

    Mytrip says it applied to Aer Lingus for a refund but has received nothing, while Aer Lingus tells me I must deal with Mytrip. 

    Not so golden: D.C. lost £5,400 after booking flights to California for the trip of a lifetime

    Not so golden: D.C. lost £5,400 after booking flights to California for the trip of a lifetime

    Tony Hetherington replies: Mytrip is part of a foreign company called Gotogate, which told me: ‘We have contacted the airline about a refund and are waiting for its reply.’ Refunds were taking anything from six weeks to many months, Gotogate added. 

    Aer Lingus was much more helpful. It had received no refund request from the agent, the airline told me, but after hearing from me it moved immediately to return the full payment to Mytrip. I pressed Mytrip, and it quickly transferred the money to your bank. 

    The whole ticket cost of £5,406 is now back in your bank account.

    WE’RE WATCHING YOU 

    A convicted fraudster who ran a scam wine investment company has now been banned from acting as the director of any limited company for the next 11 years. Anthony Collins, who was previously known as Kyrone Collins, ran Dow and Jones Limited from March 2016 to March 2020. 

    His sales staff made false claims about the potential profits to be made by investing in their wines, and investigators from the Government-run Insolvency Service reported: ‘Wine sold to investors was often at around a 100 per cent mark-up from recommended retail prices, meaning profitable returns on investments at the level and timeframe advertised by Dow and Jones would not be possible.’ 

    Rip-off: Dow and Jones charged £10,200 for the Duclot Collection

    Rip-off: Dow and Jones charged £10,200 for the Duclot Collection

    Collins filed inaccurate accounts with Companies House, making his business look healthier than it was, and leading one investor to part with £111,450 which has disappeared. A total of £809,143 is owed to investors who paid for wine which Dow and Jones failed to purchase for them. 

    I warned against Dow and Jones in April 2017, when it was charging £10,200 for a mixed set of nine bottles of wine called the Duclot Collection, which I found could be bought from a genuine wine merchant for about £5,500. Collins, 32, was convicted in 2011 f swindling the NHS out of thousands of pounds by submitting false invoices that were rubber stamped by a pal working in a hospital. 

    He was given a suspended prison sentence and then worked as a salesman for an earlier dishonest wine investment business, Prime Trading 5 Limited, before setting up Dow and Jones. He is now banned until 2032 from setting up or controlling any limited company.

    If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

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