SALLY SORTS IT: We found a decades old pension policy locked away in a safe – but Aviva won’t pay up

Before he retired 17 years ago, my husband worked for gentlemen’s outfitters Keogh & Savage in Greenock.

Unbeknown to him, the chief executive of the company took out a pension for him with Aviva.

The policy was fully paid up, but the document was only found in a safe after his former boss’s death last year.

Forgotten pension: A reader has struggled to track down an old workplace pension taken out by her husband’s boss

This pension should have been paid to my husband when he was 65. He is now 82 and an invalid.

On his behalf I have been trying to get this pension paid into his bank since October last year and have been made all kinds of promises by Aviva.

Earlier this month, I was told it had no idea when the payment will be made.

I’m so frustrated and do not know what to do next. I am 78 and feel I am pitting my wits against a huge organisation that doesn’t really care.

I. K., Gourock, Inverclyde.

You had mixed feelings about this surprising pension news, delivered by the son of your husband’s late employer, after he had cleared out the office safe.

With you both well and truly retired, you rightly felt you could have done with this lost treasure over the past 17 years.

But you were also philosophical and told me it was better late than never and that the lump sum from the pot, plus a regular income — however small — would help you both through the looming cost of living crisis.

You chased for eight months, with Aviva recently promising that the payment would be sent, and the regular pension arranged. But the constant delays were getting you and your husband down.

I decided to give Aviva a prod on your behalf. This appeared to do the trick and, within a few days, a lump sum of £9,800 was finally issued.

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In addition, it promised it would start paying your husband a monthly pension of £178.

So far so good — or so both you and I thought. Then came a terrible blow.

You contacted me to say you had a ‘very upsetting call’ from Aviva telling you that your husband was not due the £9,800 lump sum that it had just paid you after all, and that you would have to return it.

Nor would he be receiving the promised monthly payments for the rest of his life.

A red-faced Aviva also contacted me to confirm this bombshell. It had found out that the pension had already been paid out in full — a total of £16,000 — to your husband back in 2009. You and your husband were not only upset by this turn of events but mortified that anyone might think you were claiming falsely.

Neither Aviva nor I think that. Your husband’s declining health explains the oversight.

In any case, Aviva’s pension team should have told you as soon as you got in touch with all the relevant details that the pension had been paid out in full 13 years ago. It certainly should not have left you chasing a rainbow for eight months.

Aviva held its hands up to this unfortunate error and apologised to you and your husband.

An Aviva spokesman says: ‘We are very sorry that we did not identify that we previously paid out the customer’s pension in 2009, and the time it has taken to communicate this to his wife, who has been looking into her husband’s pension on his behalf.’

In recognition of the blunder and your wasted time, Aviva has paid you a sum of £1,500 in compensation. I hope that suits you, sir — sorry, madam.

Straight to the point 

My 90-year-old mother-in-law was charged £25 to be moved on to Virgin Media’s new digital phone line system. How can this be right?

A. M., Gosport, Hampshire.

A Virgin spokesman apologises and says your mother-in-law was given inaccurate information as no one has to pay to move to a digital landline. 

The charge has been refunded, plus £50 as a goodwill gesture.


After taking out an equity release loan in July last year, I wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to cancel my pension credit payments. 

Despite chasing its customer service team multiple times, they have not been stopped.

G. M., Newbury, Berks.

The DWP has written to you to apologise for the delay and has cancelled your pension credit. You will not have to pay any of the extra payments back.


We were due to go to New York in April but had to cancel after catching Covid. We made a £4,500 claim to our insurer Breeze, underwritten by AXA, and were told the money would be in our account in three to five days. 

It has now been more than 40 days and we still haven’t received it.

A. S., Sutton.

Although the claim was processed, the money was not transferred due to an administrative error. 

The payment has now been made and you have been offered £300 in compensation on top.


My wife and I had a smart meter installed by SSE earlier this year. We were told if we booked it by March 21, we would get £50 off our bill but the reduction was never made. We’ve tried to chase but can’t get through.

B. H., Isle of Wight.

An SSE spokesman apologises for the delay, which was down to ‘a shortfall in service’. It has credited the missing £50 to your account.


Travel insurance less than first class 

I am a 71-year-old widow living in Cornwall and regularly travel by train to see my very elderly parents in Lincolnshire.

This is an eight-hour journey, involving four different trains and the London Underground. I booked the trip through the Trainline website and decided to travel first-class as the ticket was a good price.

The drawback was it was non-refundable. But there was an option to book travel insurance so, for peace of mind, I purchased that for an extra £4. A few days before I was due to travel, I experienced flashing lights and large floaters in my right eye.

An emergency appointment with my optometrist diagnosed posterior vitreous detachment, which is where the vitreous gel surrounding the retina comes away and, in some cases, can lead to a retinal tear which can then lead to sight loss.

She advised me not to lift heavy objects, particularly for the first few weeks. I decided it was not safe to travel as it would have involved lifting my heavy case on and off multiple trains.

I put in a claim to Trainline, via its insurer Ergo (part of the Mayday Group). It refused to process my claim and keeps referring me to Ts and Cs, which state I need to provide a report from a medical practitioner detailing my illness.

I pointed out that it would have been of no use to visit my GP as she did not have the expertise nor the scans at her fingertips. 

However, my optometrist emailed my GP the details of my condition and the advice against heavy lifting, a copy of which I emailed to Ergo, along with my unused tickets. Please help.

Y. D., Falmouth, Cornwall.

You told me that you spend considerable sums of money each year purchasing tickets via Trainline and have always been happy with its service — but your view is less rose-tinted after having to cancel your recent trip.

I thought it plain to see your claim deserved to be paid so contacted Trainline. It quickly agreed to offer a full refund on your £158 ticket, though it said this was a goodwill gesture and that third-party insurer Ergo was responsible for deciding on any claim.

I asked Ergo for a comment but it simply said it was still awaiting your medical documentation.

You tell me you will continue using Trainline in future but won’t be ticking the insurance option again as you felt its claims process is too inflexible.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.