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July 2: Kiwisaver Kids; Bumped off cruise; Models miss out

Published: 4:02PM Wednesday July 02, 2008

Kiwsaver Kids
Reporter:  Ruwani Perera

It's been a year since Kiwisaver began, and already 80,517 under 18 year old's have been signed up to the scheme.  The government offers attractive incentives like $1000 kickstart to help as many kiwis save.

17 year old Nevin Govindasamy's father, Karthi, enrolled his son into Kiwisaver in April after an ASB sales consultant told him that Nevin's contributions wouldn't begin until he turned 18.  This is not true. Contributions (automatic deductions from your pay) start as soon young people start earning, even if it's a part-time job.  They can take a contributions holiday, but not until they've been in the scheme for at least 12 months.

Adults over 18 years of age, who start a new job are automatically enrolled into the Kiwisaver scheme.  But they have an 8 week window to decide whether to stay in the retirement scheme, or opt out. Under 18s have no opt out option.

Fair Go asks whether there should be a similar provision to opt out for under 18s, especially when children are of an age where they have their own savings targets.

Nevin has a part-time job and since joining Kiwisaver, is contributing 4 per cent of his wages into his retirement fund.  He doesn't want this; every cent counts for his European trip and his plans to study abroad.

ASB apologise for the incorrect information given to Nevin and will reimburse him for the contributions he has made.  The bank, one of Kiwisaver's leading providers, also agrees that the 8 week opt-out issue for under 18 year olds needs to be addressed and will discuss it with the IRD.

Financial Planners agree there's a lot of pressure for parents to start up a saving scheme for children, particularly with the thousand dollar kickstart.  While that is good on one hand because you're starting a savings habit for kids, children's plans should mesh with Kiwisaver objectives.

If you've been given incorrect information about Kiwisaver, go back to your scheme provider.  You can also contact the Banking Ombudsman if you have a complaint about Kiwisaver that relates to a specific bank.

For more information about the Kiwisaver scheme go to: http://www.kiwisaver.govt.nz/ and http://www.bankombudsman.org.nz/


Holiday Sunk
Reporter - Hannah Wallis

Auckland couple Faye and Ant Crofskey care for four children, two of them severely disabled - it's 24/7 stuff, they don't get much time off, don't really take holidays. But they did book a Pacific cruise for their 15th wedding anniversary - leaving from Brisbane, ending back in Auckland, just under $1300 for the two of them with P & O, organised over the net through Australian travel agents, Cruising Down Under.

They booked and paid months in advance but just two weeks before departure, Cruising Down Under emailed saying they had no details of final payment and did they still want to go as the cruise was now fully booked. The Crofskeys confirmed they'd long ago paid, the travel agency then said P & O had overbooked the cruise and they'd been bumped off. There were no cancellations and they couldn't get on.

The Crofskeys were furious with P & O  - they got a refund, but they didn't get their dream holiday. But when Fair Go contacted P & O they said not our fault, the travel agency didn't send us on the money, despite being twice reminded. When the money didn't come, P & O cancelled the booking.

Ian Hunter, the director of Cruising Down Under, also told us it was P & O's overbooking but when asked to provide proof that he'd passed the money onto P & O - he sent an email saying: "unfortunately we cannot comment further on any other aspect of the complaint." And without the proof, it's hard to have any confidence in Cruising Down Under's version of events.

P & O say Ian Hunter has been in business a long time and they haven't had any other complaints about him - so we can't understand why he's not being more upfront about everything. If a mistake's been made, why not just own up and apologise. We're forwarding Faye and Ant's complaint onto the Aussie Department of Fair Trading, and to their Federation of Travel Agents.
Hopefully they can find out why this lovely couple missed out on their trip of a lifetime.


Cold Sola
Reporter: Tanya Spinka

Twenty thousand dollars could do a lot to heat your home; heaters in every room, electric blankets and wardrobes full of warm winter clothes.  But the Hunt family from Whakatane chose to spend their twenty thousand dollars on solar heating.  A lot of money up front - but it would be worth it over time to utilise all that free energy beaming down from the sun. 

The company, Sola60, assured them that the system would heat their hot water as well as their house and that it would be really cheap to run.  So imagine their surprise when they got their first power bill and found that the system was costing them over a thousand dollars a month to run!

They'd already paid twenty thousand dollars for four solar panels, under-floor pipes to carry the hot water around to heat their home and two electric booster elements to heat the water on days when there wasn't enough sun.  They thought they'd only need to turn the electric boosters on occasionally in winter, and that they'd be cheap to run.  As it turned out, they'd need the elements on all winter, or their house wouldn't be warmed at all. 

After three years battling Sola60, it seemed they had a choice - stay cold, or fork out even more money and Sola60 would get the system to work.  Not happy with this 'solution', in desperation the Hunts approached Fair Go to see if there was anything we could do to sort the matter out.

After a phone call with the Managing Director of Sola60's new owner, Todd Energy, the company has now agreed to install heat pumps to help heat the floors.  The company says these will much cheaper to run than the electric booster elements and they have agreed to install them at no extra cost to the Hunts.  So a good result all round - but we will still be keeping an eye out for the Hunts next power bill, to make sure the new system delivers a cost effective result.


More Croc'ery
Reporter: Phil Vine

Three women, Jane Young of Whangarei; Heather Norton from Oxford; and Aucklander, Andrea Kerr were deeply relieved after watching the programme."I thought I was going mad," they all wrote, after their feet wouldn't fit into their shoes. Now they know why.

Sheree Adkins from Christchurch bought the same Croc jandals our Olympic Athletes are wearing to Beijing."They shrunk two to three sizes and turned up at the toes like elf shoes. Good luck to the Olympians wearing them on their tired sore feet."

US-based Crocs have refused to make any comment. The shoes are supposed to be sold with a warning that they shouldn't be left in direct sunlight under extreme conditions.


 

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