How to save money on your car insurance

 

Most people are aware that they should not just let their car insurance renew. Just like house and buildings every year, it is rare that your renewal will be cheaper than starting afresh. I have just taken out my car insurance and after recovering from the jaw drop of seeing how much my car has gone down in value, thought I’d give you some figures just to show you the importance of shopping around and not just using comparison websites. These are all quotes from today 11th October 2017

1st Central renewal quote £505.00
1st Central renewal online chat £490.00 (when stopping auto renewal online chat)
1st Central direct on website £473.95
Moneysupermarket.com (1st Central cheapest) £503.31
Confused.com (AA cheapest) £393.91
Comparethemeerkat (MoreThan cheapest) £385.12
MoreThan direct on website £382.28
AA direct on website £348.31
AA through Topcashback £348.31 (minus £40 paid to Topcashback account

A saving of £196.69 (39%) of the renewal price. It is such a boring way to spend half an hour of your life, it really is, but how can you not do it when it saves this sort of money?

Topcashback* is a great cashback site. Go there before buying anything. Sign up and whenever you shop check Topcashback first, and if the store is listed click on the link and get cashback. Don’t rely on this though as there may be terms and conditions that you miss (such as using vouchers) negating the cashback. Other big cashback sites include Kidstart* (where the cashback goes to your nominated child’s bank account), Quidco* and Free fivers*. Others that I’ve not used are  Imutual, Give or take and there are others. It is worth signing up to a few as they all have different traders, different % cashback and different offers on at various times. Time consuming but worth it more often than not! £40 for taking an extra five minutes is quite a nice hourly rate (if only I could do it all hours!)

Tips

  • Last year, using a cashback site wasn’t cheaper, somehow in the system it knew so don’t think that after getting your cheapest quote you always get the cashback from the same price. Clear your cookies which may help!
  • Don’t completely disregard your renewal quote as most companies are nearly always open to haggling, I’ve yet to hear of anyone failing when they do this. Now I don’t know why I didn’t try it after getting the last quote. Fool.
  • I only went direct to the cheapest on each of the comparison websites
  • Some providers are only able to produce a certain number of quotations per customer, and after the limit has been reached, they will no longer be able to produce quotations online on some sites so don’t hundreds of tweaks!
  • You can always try changing your job title. I’ve heard of people getting cheaper quotes when changing “builder” to “construction” etc., but to be perfectly honest I’ve never seen a difference and of course it does still have to describe the job!
  • Save your details on the comparison websites so if you keep the car you don’t have to waste your time filling it all out again.
  • Look at deals that may work out cheaper if you switch your contents and building insurance  same provider and visa versa.

More tips
After doing the quote and post I asked some fellow money bloggers for tips that I hadn’t thought of and now I wonder if I could have got it reduced even further!

Katy from KatyKicker  wrote about saving money on insurance and provides lots of tips, one being a really really good point! Check the policy! When you go through comparison websites check like for like, windscreen cover, legal cover, replacement car etc. And consider asking your current provider for a loyalty discount rather than just quoting competitors’ prices.

I never go for all the legal cover. But Emma from TheMoneyWhisperer has written about how to get free legal protection from Freelegalmotor and I’ve just signed up!

Emily from A Thrify Fox says she had an automated email thingy from confused.com telling her that Admiral was the cheapest for her.

Now this is a little known secret and is brilliant! Emma from Mumssavvysavings wrote a post about Reducing the cost of learning to drive and in it says that she got insurance from a company  that they pay for 28 days of insurance and only use on any days they choose within three months. Superb!

Do Morethan just comparison websites for insurance quotes! A couple of years ago I picked up on the differences in prices between a standard quote and a quote going through a cashback site…. I complained, obviously. No laws broken but still got the refund of the difference 🙂

If you need help with a complaint re insurance or anything else see Top 20 Tips How to Complain! For much more advice, guidance, templates, consumer laws and information GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

* referral links – I’ll get a few pounds if you sign up once you’ve made more than £10. Depending on when you click on this link you may receive a bonus but that depends on the offer on at the time. You can then use your own referral link and send to friends too.

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Ofcom call for better broadband speed honesty

 

Most of us are broadband users and most of us have complained about broadband speed  have we not? Today (6th October 2017) Ofcom proposed to strengthen the current codes to improve speed estimates provided at the point of sale, after sale and in customer contracts and to enhance customers’ right to exit.

 

 

 

The proposals:

• Improve speed information at the point of sale and in contracts, by reflecting the slower speeds people can experience at ‘peak’ times; and by ensuring providers always give a minimum guaranteed speed before sale.
• Strengthen the right to exit if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level. Providers would have a limited time to improve speeds before they must let customers walk away penalty-free. For the first time, this right to exit would also apply to contracts that include phone and pay-TV services bought with broadband.
• Increase the number of customers who benefit from the Codes, by expanding their scope to apply to all broadband technologies.

Ofcom has a voluntary code of practice for residential and business broadband providers. This code requires companies to provide estimates of the speeds customers are likely to receive at the point of sale. It also ensures that customers are able to exit their contracts, without penalty, if their speed falls below a minimum level.

Sound good? Hmm not really when you consider that 1) Ofcom says “This does not guarantee compliance but we expect signatories to commit to honour the letter and spirit of the Code. We will monitor compliance with the Code using measures such as ongoing mystery shopping” and 2) only:

  • BT
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
  • KC
  • EE
  • Talk Talk
  • Vodafone
  • Zen Internet

have signed up to the code and as a Virgin customer who has taken them to the Ombudsman 3 times and won all three times (on different issues) I don’t suppose many people have fared any better with this issue, but anyway I digress…

The consultation is 40 pages long. However, if you go to page 40 you will see the questions which it is asking. The big question should all this be compulsory? Not there. For crying out loud! Expecting telecom companies to be honest in their advertising is not going to be compulsory! The closing date for consultation is the 10th November 2017.

You can still complain though! (I would say that, but you can!)

How to complain about broadband speeds/service interruptions

For more on all things telecoms see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

And if you need more information on your consumer rights, advice, templates and general guidance and tips GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

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Argos caught out again – this time for race discrimination in toy pricing…

Press release

Argos is in the spotlight again, this time for apparent race discrimination in the toy department… After recently finding itself embroiled in the furore of eagle-eyed shoppers noticing that its “3 for 2” offers were not as they seemed [1] the Argos pricing debacle continues. The latest error shows the company discriminating between two similar dolls, both named Luvabella.

Blogger Lottyearns noticed that whilst the white, Caucasian Luvabella doll was available as a “3 for 2” offer, the “African American’ Luvabella is not….

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney  The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! is disgusted by Argos’ apparent discrimination. “In 2017, surely we expect companies to be more mindful of equality and ensuring that they are not discriminating against any one group. It beggars belief that Argos think it is acceptable practice.”

An Argos spokesperson added to the confusion by claiming that the doll in question was not part of the offer: “The other Luvabella doll is available online only, and our online only toys were not part of the ‘3 for 2’ promotion”, said their statement.

Argos has been plagued by criticism recently. Earlier last month it piloted removing its iconic catalogue from various stores. It claimed to be testing demand as more and more people shop online. However, it misjudged customers, who were astonished at the store’s decision and ignited a social media outcry. This was especially due to its lack of understanding about the widespread use of perusing the catalogue by adults and children alike for circling their Christmas wishes!

Only last week Argos again faced a mass of condemnation for its “3 for 2” special offers, where many toys worked out more expensive than the day before the offer started, and a lack of stock in many stores.

Dewdney says that she is seeing an increasing number of people lambasting the retailer over recent months and taking their custom elsewhere and looks forward to inspecting their trading figures for the run up to Christmas. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they are down on the previous year, reflecting what seems to be consumers’ growing disdain for Argos.”

The offer ended on the 3rd October 2017 

 

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Monarch – all you need to know (situation, rights and refunds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has happened?
On the 2nd October 2017 Monarch Airlines and Monarch Holidays went into administration including those companies trading as:

  • Monarch Airlines Ltd
  • Monarch Holidays Ltd (ATOL Number 2275)
  • First Aviation Ltd (ATOL Number 4888) previously trading as Monarch Airlines
  • Avro Ltd (ATOL Number 1939)
  • Somewhere2stay Ltd

Customers were informed at 4.00am on the 2nd October. The administrators, KPMG said it had to wait until all of the airline’s planes had landed before issuing the statement, as it does not itself have a licence to operate planes and therefore could not take control of the company until aircraft had landed.

How did this happen?
In the year to October 2016, Monarch made a loss of £291m compared with a profit of £27m for the previous 12 months. It carried 5.7 million passengers in 2015 a 19% drop from 2014.

On the 24th October 2014, Monarch Holdings was acquired from the Globus Travel Group by private investment company and turnaround specialist Greybull Capital for a nominal sum just hours before Monarch’s licence with the Civil Aviation Authority expired.

Security threats and terrorism in Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey has contributed to the downfall of the airline, there aren’t enough bums for seats in the highly competitive short haul market.

On the 25th September 2016, there were numerous online rumours about Monarch Airline’s imminent bankruptcy. And in the days that followed, Monarch obtained additional funds from shareholders, and on 30th September 2016 its Civil Aviation Authority ATOL licence was temporarily extended until 12th October 2016. Monarch Airlines retained it after Greybull Capital provided £165m in investment funding.

However, it wasn’t enough to save the airline. On the 30th September 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) extended Monarch’s licence for 24 hours due to financial issue but on the 2nd October 2017 at 4.00am the airline went into administration.

What now?
The airline’s website is now managed by the CAA, and corporate and staff affairs directed by KPMG.

What about passengers?
110,000 Monarch passengers were/are stranded overseas and 300,000 future bookings have been cancelled. Although the CAA is keen to point out that passengers are not stranded as they have plans to bring everyone home.

What to do if affected
From The CAA website:

“Flights booked directly with Monarch Airlines from 15 December 2016 onward
Customers with these bookings are not ATOL protected and are not entitled to make a claim to the CAA. You are advised to contact your card issuer, insurer or PayPal for advice on how to claim a refund.

Flights booked on or before 14 December 2016 directly with First Aviation Ltd trading as Monarch Airlines
If your flight was booked with Monarch Airlines on or before 14 December 2016 and you received an ATOL Certificate stating that your flight is protected with First Aviation, you are ATOL protected. We are making arrangements for refunds to be made as soon as possible to these UK customers.

We will be providing more information on how you should claim shortly. You will be able to submit a claim when we make the Monarch claim form available. Please do not submit a claim until advised to do so.

Bookings made directly with Monarch Airlines from 15 December 2016 onward are not protected by ATOL. For further information please read how do I know if I am ATOL protected.

Holidays booked directly with Monarch Holidays
Customers booked directly with Monarch Holidays are ATOL protected and will have received an ATOL Certificate when they made their booking. We are making arrangements for refunds to be made on these bookings as soon as possible, and we aim to complete this by the end of 2017 at the latest. We will be providing more information on how you should claim shortly. You will be able to submit a claim when we make the Monarch claim form available. Please do not submit a claim until you are advised to do so.

Monarch flights and Monarch Holidays booked through another travel company or travel agent
If you booked a flight or holiday with another travel company or travel agent you should contact them directly about your arrangements.

Stranded overseas?
The UK Government has requested that the CAA charter more than 30 aircraft to bring UK passengers home at no cost. It is expected that holiday makers will not have to cut short their holiday.

Yet to go, what are your rights?
Don’t go to the airport as there is no point.

  1. Tour operators must use an ATOL License for package holidays abroad. So your package should be covered by ATOL so you will be able to claim a refund
  2. If you have booked a hotel (worth up to £200) or car hire (worth up to £300) with the flight you should be able to get a refund under ATOL . This is known as a Flights Plus booking, protected by ATOL when booked through a tour operator. Flight-Plus is part of the ATOL Regulations 2012
  3. If you did not receive an ATOl certificate and you are not covered by ATOl (see above) then you are not entitled to any refund. However, if the flight cost was more than £100 you may be able to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If you purchased the tickets on a debit card or they cost less than £100 you may still be able to claim from the bank under their voluntary Chargeback scheme.
  4. You may be able to claim on your travel insurance but it would need to be a high level cover policy.

Reports of hotels making holidaymakers pay again
The CAA says “There are a few cases affecting passengers on Monarch package holidays who are ATOL protected. Some hoteliers wrongly think that they will not get their money for the Monarch booking and therefore ask the customer for payment. When this happens the CAA steps in to reassure the hotel that payment will be made. We have done this with two hotels in Lanzarote today and the situations have been resolved.”

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for links to posts regarding various issues you may have with flights and holidays. Your rights, guidelines, laws and information on how to complain effectively.

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Argos caught playing around with toy prices

Press release

Argos have been caught out playing with prices, according to consumer expert, The Complaining Cow, aka Helen Dewdney. She has this week spotted customers complaining about their ‘special offers’ on Facebook, as you can see here…

When is a 3 for 2 bargain not a bargain? When it costs more than buying 3 the day before! The more organised of us have started their Christmas shopping and savvy consumers are looking out for the bargains. The Complaining Cow has found that for eagle-eyed shoppers, all is not as it appears at Argos.

When Argos promoted its 3 for 2 offer on its Facebook page [1], people flocked to complain about being scammed. Jaki Young posted a picture saying “Yesterday’s price vs todays on the joke of a 3 for 2 deal” Argos responded to comment, saying “Our prices do fluctuate up and down throughout the year, driven my many factors. Many items had been sold at reduced prices in the weeks or months before the 3 for 2 started and have now returned to their original selling price.”

However, Cora Harrison [3] who runs The Mini Millionaire blog highlighted that Argos has been sneakily rising prices just before starting the 3 for 2 offer and her Facebook post highlighting the issue has received well over 2,000 shares compared to Argos Facebook advert receiving 54!

Cora, had put three items into her basket on the previous evening. The Fisher Price Laugh and Learn chair was £26.99, (now £39.99), The Cookie Shape Surprise was £10.99, (now £19.99) and the Puppy £10.99. Had the prices remained the same Cora would have paid £48.97. However, expecting to receive the 3 for 2 offer she found that she would be paying £59.98. These items didn’t appear to be on any offer during the previous day.

Other examples include the “lowest price ever” £27.99 VTech Chase me Casey which went up to £37.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Argos Facebook page was inundated with examples of this kind of spurious pricing. The Disney Frozen Foot to Floor Ride on shows no offer on when priced at £19.99 but went up to twice the price at £39.99. The Disney Cars 3 Lightening McQueen Tri-Scooter was £21.99 reduced to £19.99 but went up to £23.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some stores were honouring both prices, whilst others were not. Sheree Brumby reserved £250 of toys, but when she went to collect the “3 for 2” offer was not honoured, so she went elsewhere!

 

When Kayley questioned Argos, the company’s response was that it was up to individual store managers to honour the deal or not:

When contacted for a statement, an Argos spokesperson said We recently ran a promotion on a limited selection of toy products which ended on Tuesday and the products returned to their full price. Customers can now take advantage of our ‘3 for 2’ offer across an even wider range of toys which offers great value and launched on Wednesday.”

But this isn’t the only problem that Argos are having with their offers. Kelly Gibson posted on the Argos page that a £39.99 item she put in her basket changed to £59.99.

Argos customers were reporting numerous items going out of stock straight away at the start of the promotion suggesting, that it isn’t Argos not planning properly (it does after all have enough yearly figures to use for planning) but that something else going on….

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! [14] says that a trader must comply with Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and it must show that it has a due diligence system in place to prevent misleading practices.

“Whilst it is unlikely that it could be considered that Argos has breached these regulations and we all understand that prices change, it would appear that there are many examples of prices increasing literally overnight. It seems from these examples that many were not in any kind of offer before and certainly numerous customers are saying that they have been misled. With the increase of the use of social media, more and more people are sharing their experiences and sharing intelligence! So companies have got to treat customers better if they want to retain loyalty.”

Update 7.55pm Argos replied to my Facebook post, so I replied back! Feel free to add your comments ‘cos Argos will be back to it!

Argos caught playing around with toy prices …

Posted by The Complaining Cow on Thursday, 28 September 2017

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