Ryanair flies into oblivion

In the latest apparent “Let’s treat customers as badly as possible” Ryanair business plan, it has decided to cancel 40-50 flights a day from its schedule of over 2,500 flights for  six weeks to the end of October. This is caused by incredibly bad management of staff leave. Not only that, it is so poor that they aren’t even managing the cancellation properly. Giving people little to no notice.

Ryanair’s Facebook and Twitter feed provides little information and people are flocking to share their outrage at the appalling management of the whole situation.

What the pilots are saying
I was on Radio 5 this morning and there were a few calls from Ryanair pilots who wanted to understandably remain anonymous. They were saying that Ryanair pay poorly and whilst they recognise that pilots are well paid, it is below the industry average. They also have to pay for their own accommodation and training and so turnover is high. A pilot for Jet2 said that Ryanair pilots are always leaving and joining them. Pilots are limited to the hours they can fly a year So the problem is not only that Ryanair has mismanaged the leave, it would also appear that it is because they treat their staff badly so they leave. Of course, if Ryanair paid better, the cost of the flights would go up? Maybe it is something it needs to look at if it is to survive.

On the news this evening (18/09/17) pilots were saying could happen again next year. (I won’t be flying Ryanair, I use them all the time, I won’t be now!)

Not informing you of your rights
But, not only is Ryanair not providing information about cancelled flights quickly enough, it also isn’t giving people their legal rights, most importantly the significant compensation that people are due. Just like BA powercut debacle: Airline keeps passengers in the dark about their rights update 18/09/17 CEO has said will pay EU compensation.

Ryanair has now released a list up to 28th October.  Still no mention of applying for compensation on there!

What Ryanair should be doing
Ryanair should be trying to get you onto another flight, even if that is with another carrier and must pay you compensation. Airline template and information for all the details. You can use their form but you could write, adapting the letter for your circumstances and the costs that you incurred and give a deadline for payment as they will have a huge rise in claims at the moment methinks!

If the flight is more than 14 days away then you will not get the compensation.

If Ryanair has left you stranded you are entitled to the hotel and refreshment/food costs until they can get you onto another flight. You must keep these reasonable though and I would advise you keep evidence of searches to find low cost accommodation etc.

Consequential losses
If you have booked a hotel and other things, Ryanair is saying that it will not pay and you may be able to claim on insurance. Again, I’d like to see this tested in court. It is Ryanair’s fault and I don’t see why the insurance companies should pay which will ultimately put our premiums up!

Although the EU laws don’t cover consequential losses. However domestic law may, but because Ryanair is based in Ireland you would need to sue through the Irish courts. You should be able to get advice from the UK European Consumer Centre.

The Association of British Insurers is urging travellers affected by Ryanair cancellations to contact the airline in the first instance to seek replacement flights and compensation. Mark Shepherd, head of property, commercial and specialist lines at the ABI, said:

“Ryanair has admitted it is to blame for the large number of flights currently being cancelled. Travellers affected will be understandably upset and have every right to expect help and support from the airline, whether that is alternative flights with a different carrier or compensation for the disruption suffered and other expenses incurred. If passengers are experiencing additional costs which for some reason Ryanair is refusing to cover they may be able to make claims on a travel insurance policy, but this may depend on the level of cover they bought. Clearly the first port of call must be Ryanair itself.”

Package holidays
If you have booked a package holiday through a travel company which has put you on a Ryanair flight, it is responsible for getting you to your destination. It, should also be informing you of any issues with your flight. If not, it has not been providing services with reasonable skill and care which is a breach of  the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and also Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. Regulations 12 and 13 refer to alterations in the package holiday or to departure times or location.

Getting another flight
You are entitled under EU rules to “rerouting, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity”. Unfortunately what exactly “the earliest opportunity” means has not been properly tested and defined in court. Yet.

Ryanair in their continuing poor customer care are telling passengers that hey may have to wait three days or more before they can be flown to their destination. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says that airlines are obliged to book you on a rival airline “where there is a significant difference in the time that a reroute can be offered on the airline’s own services”. The CAA does not define “significant” Different airlines have different rules regarding what they think is “significant”. However, whether they are legal remains to be seen, so if you get another flight at two days and Ryanair don’t pay then please do take them to court and let me know about it!

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the enforcement body for upholding the consumer rights of air passengers, and so it is able to take action against any airline that operates out of the UK, regardless of nationality. (It does not, however, regulate Ryanair from a safety perspective, this is done by the Irish Aviation Authority.   My investigation into airlines charging to sit children with an adult Plane greedy – Are airlines holding families to ransom? uncovered that Ryanair are making a mandatory charge to sit a child with an adult in the group. The CAA categorically stated that the airline should not charge but would not do anything about it because Ryanair is based in Ireland and the IAA have refused point blank to comment. So I don’t hold out much hope here.)

Misleading, blatant lie or just incompetent?
See this letter below? Utter utter utter twaddle, codswallop, hogwash to give it the technical terms. Even the CEO, Michael O’Leary has said today that they will pay compensation. NO! You are entitled to the compensation AND the refund, they are two very different things. See Airline compensation.

Ryanair has previous
Just to show that the CAA can take action when it wants to do so, this from September 2015 on the CAA website:

Ryanair faces CAA enforcement action for breach of consumer law. As part of its on-going campaign to safeguard the rights of UK air passengers, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched enforcement action against Ryanair. This action follows a review by the regulator that found Ryanair is not complying fully with European consumer law designed to support passengers following flight disruption. Ryanair is now required to make policy changes or face the prospect of further enforcement steps leading to court action, if the airline remains non-compliant.

Contact details for Ryanair COO here.

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for masses of info about booking/taking holidays and flights.

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for information, advice, laws and template letters.

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Where there’s blame there’s a claim (even when there isn’t?)

You’ve had a great holiday, weather was good, accommodation clean and spacious and the food was amazing. Although was the food perfect?

There have always been reports of people with dodgy tummies after holidays but is it on the increase. Are hotels really getting worse or is something else going on?

It is reported that some Claims Management Companies appear to be trying to get in on the act and either helping people claim when they could easily do so themselves and get 100% of the redress or in some cases encouraging holiday makers to make fraudulent claims. Ambulance chasers hit a brick wall

So watch yourself if you are thinking of trying it on. 1) It gives people with genuine complaints a bad name, 2) You could end up with a huge fine, a criminal record and even be out in prison for fraud 3) Ultimately places may well stop taking holiday makers from countries where people lie and at the very least put prices up! There is even talk in some places of treating people from the UK differently such as having to swipe in and out when having a drink or something to eat.

More stories in the media on holiday makers and fraud
Why Brits got the bug for holiday sickness scams

Holidaymaker hit with £25k bill after falsely claiming she had suffered food poisoning at five-star hotel

‘BOGUS’ COMPO BACKLASH Brit couple who made ‘fake’ claim over ‘dodgy food’ at Greek hotel could lose home because they were sued back for £170,000 by the furious chain

So don’t do it!

But what if you really do get food poisoning abroad what should you do?
1) Report it to the hotel at the time.

2) If it is a package holiday, tell the rep as soon as you can.

3) Go to the doctor. If the hotel can recommend one go there.

4) Keep copies of any doctor’s notes, prescriptions and receipts for medication.

5) Don’t continue to to eat and drink! Follow the medical advice.

6) Notify your insurance company.

7) Write to customer services on your return providing all the details of when you fell ill and all the evidence. State that you wish to claim redress under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

8) Should you not be happy with the response you can write to the CEO – you can find the contact details for CEOs on ceoemail.com

9) You can take your case to ABTA where there may be a charge or go to court.

10) Be polite and objective in your correspondence. Give a deadline as to when you you expect to hear and what you will do if not satisfied with the response. For example, using review forums and websites, going to the Small Claims  Court etc.

More at All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights

See How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for guidance, tips, advice, laws and template letters for all you need to know in getting redress!


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All you need to know about tax free childcare/30 hours funding

This guest post has been written by Emma who is a Finance Manager for a regional chain of nurseries. She also blogs on personal finance at The Money Whisperer. As a Chartered Accountant,she found that a lot of her mummy friends came to her with financial questions. She undertakes lots of financial research to invest and grow her own family’s wealth and make good financial decisions, so now shares on her blog which seemed an easy extension of this research. It’s important to her that people of her generation who learnt no formal financial literacy at school have access to information so that they can make good choices for themselves and their children.’’

As for me, given that my background is in children’s services I thoroughly agree with Emma and most if not everyone in the sector that the whole funding scheme always badly thought out and implemented appallingly. As usual Government not listening to the experts in the field. So hopefully another blog post outlining the issues and what you can do if affected will add to the voices out there as well as helping parents access any funding.

Tax free childcare or 30 hours funding – what is it all about?
In an effort to help families with the crippling cost of childcare, this year the government has made some major changes to the way that they provide support to working families with their childcare costs. April 2017 saw the launch of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, whereby eligible families can receive a government top up worth 20p for every 80p contributed by the parent. Last week the government’s somewhat controversial scheme to provide 30 hours of funded childcare to eligible working parents was launched.

Both schemes are administered through the government website; parents apply once and are assessed for both schemes. However, the website has been dogged with technical problems since it was launched. Huge amounts of downtime have resulted in parents being unable to apply, or apply and then find themselves completely locked out of their accounts.

Within days of launch in April, a number of childcare providers reported not being able to sign up to Tax-Free Childcare, either because they didn’t receive a temporary password from HMRC, or the one they were sent didn’t work. In other cases, childcare providers were unfamiliar with their Unique Tax Reference which is required for the registration process. Charity-run settings with no Unique Tax Reference were left unable to set up an account also. This left many parents with no ability to use the service to pay their childcare fees – without a provider account they had nowhere to send their money to.

Common issues encountered by parents using the Tax-Free Childcare service include:
• delays in receiving passwords to enter the site
• failure to be able to log in using the usernames and passwords supplied after successful registration
• technical downtime – often with the landing page stating ‘‘We’re experiencing technical difficulties’ and ‘We don’t know when the service will be available again.’
• delays in receiving the government’s 20% top up in to their Tax-Free Childcare accounts resulting in payments to childcare providers being made late
• payments being sent from the parent’s Tax-Free Childcare account but not reaching the childcare provider’s account
• some even reported being advised their child did not exist!

With childcare providers requesting payment from parents who had money tied up in a Tax-Free Childcare account which they couldn’t access, some parents had to find the money from elsewhere to make a second payment directly to their provider to ensure they were paid.

The technical glitches have continued for months. With many parents leaving it to the last minute to apply for the eligibility code required to access 30 hours of funding, it has left many without a code on the deadline date of 31 August 2017. It is reported that of the 200,000 families signed up for the 30 hours funding, an estimated 80,000 have had difficulties getting an eligibility code.

What can parents do to complain?
Tax-free childcare accounts
New guidance published on the gov.uk website under the heading ‘Childcare Service Compensation’ states that if you have been unable to access tax free childcare through your childcare account for technical reasons, you may be able to claim compensation. You may be eligible for these payments if you:
have been unable to complete your tax-free childcare,
• have been unable to access your childcare account, or
• have not received a decision about whether you are eligible, without an explanation, for more than 20 days.

To make a claim:
Send the following to Childcare Service, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1GR:

1. Name
2. Home Address
3. National Insurance Number
4. Copies of their receipts for payments to your childcare provider
5. Bank name, sort code and account number
6. A brief description of the issues you’ve had

You may be able to get the government top-up as a one-off payment. HMRC will also consider refunding any reasonable costs directly caused by their mistakes or unreasonable delays.

30 hours funding
The deadline for applying for 30 hours funding for childcare in September was 31 August 2017. However, due to the problems with the national computer system there may be some families who started their application process before 31 August but did not received their eligibility code in time.

To make a claim:
• Contact the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097 to receive a temporary code beginning with ‘11’.
• Give this code to your preferred childcare provider along with your national insurance number, your date of birth and your child’s date of birth.
• Childcare providers are able to process and verify these temporary codes with your local authority, so as long as your preferred provider has space for you, you may still be able to get a place. You will need to be quick however as most local authorities require providers to inform them of their headcount figures by late September.


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Back to school cheaper than ever (& how to make the most of it)

As if children aren’t expensive enough we have to buy school uniforms and all that other stuff! However, I am a fan of school uniforms for a variety of reasons, but it wasn’t too many years ago that it would nearly break the bank to send kids back to school. Prices of many items come down in the last few years. One assumes that it is because of more competition. With more supermarkets, more outlets and more online opportunities, stores are having to be more competitive with inevitable reduction in prices. Good. But could it also be that with their mass purchasing power that they are getting stock cheaper than others and even using as a loss leader. I fear most of us parents don’t care!

Are these items good value for money though? I think so. I have bought school uniforms from supermarkets for the last 5 years and they all last as long as each other. Although you do have to be careful that you are comparing like with like though. For example, one pair of school trousers may be cheaper than another but does the more expensive pair have reinforced knees? I have found from experience that one pair of trousers will be cheaper than the inevitable two….!

What do the supermarkets say?
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said “We have longstanding relationships with our school uniform suppliers. This allows us to offer choice, quality and value at scale during the busy back to school period and beyond.”



A spokesperson for Morrisons said “We offer a 200 day no-quibble guarantee on our children’s clothing. We’re so confident with the entire range that if a customer is not happy with ANY Nutmeg children’s item, for any reason, they can return it up to 200 days after they bought it with proof of purchase.” That is well over your statutory consumer rights too!


There’s an interesting one. Clarks and Start-rite appear to have the monopoly on parental guilt when it comes to shoes. They certainly don’t last as long as any other supermarket shoe, we aren’t paying for durability! But they do provide us with a width fitting and it is easier to get the half size fitting. However there is little evidence on whether they are better or not for growing feet, who knows? Anything from £30 – £50 for Clarks’ school shoes instead of a supermarket shoe for a quarter of the price? Difficult one and a personal choice but we can at least compromises and buy the less worn P.E. footwear from supermarkets.

A spokesperson for Clarks said “Our price points are based on the high quality, premium materials and manufacturing processes that are used in the creation of our footwear. All of our footwear is also subject to a large number of tests designed to ensure comfort, safety and durability.” I’d like to see the results of the durability tests!!

Rest of the kit
When it comes to kit, such as pencil cases and backpacks etc. are they really that different from others. We are only paying for the picture not the quality on there aren’t we? Who is going to know where we bought it and does it matter where most parents are trying to save money on school essentials?

Some tips for back to school shopping:
1) Check the quality of the item before you buy. Give the uniform a pull and a stretch see if any stitching will come undone when worn once!
2) Buy early, try one item and give it a wash before buying others to check how they will last from regular washing.
3) Shop around, use comparison websites for absolutely anything!
4) Buy at the end of term too. Some supermarkets have discounts then and at certain times of the year. And buy ahead as you know those kids will grow! I pointed out to Tesco CEOs when I interviewed them last year that kids don’t grow to term times and we need uniform around the year but I don’t know if anyone is listening!
5) Remember that it doesn’t matter how cheap the items are, you are still covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You are entitled to goods that are of satisfactory quality and that last a reasonable length of time. If they don’t meet this, then take them back with your proof of purchase and gain a refund or replacement (or repair!)

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Quick guide for all you need to know about PPI claims

Today, 29/08/17 despite pressure from consumer groups, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that it will introduce a deadline for making new payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints. It is quite ridiculous that this deadline should be introduced, the only benefit is for the financial institutions! Although the FCA has told them to contact customers regarding PPI, many have failed to do so and the onus is on the consumer to contact the company.

Millions of us are contacted on a daily basis from Claims Management Companies trying to get their hands on a large percentage of what we may or may not be owed. But despite this, it is estimated that there are billions more to be claimed. In fact the FCA says that over half have yet to claim but has imposed this deadline. Claims have been made since 2011, that’s 6 years and yet they expect more than 6 years of claims to be made in two years? Plus the additional claims which have already been dealt with due to the Plevin case. That issue of 2 versus 6 years alone begs many questions! See the FCA figures for amounts claimed in each of the last 6 years.

What exactly is PPI?
Payment Protection Insurance. When you took out a loan or a mortgage or similar you may have been sold it alongside the agreement. It would, in theory pay out if you were unable to make the payments.

What makes a mis-sold PPI?
1) If you were told that you had to have it (you didn’t) to take out the loan
2) It has been added without your knowledge
3) Sold the wrong cover, e.g. something to which you didn’t agree, single policy instead of joint, you already had cover with another product/through work etc
4) If you were self, employed, retired or unemployed and were sold unemployment cover which would have been useless to you
5) You had pre existing medical conditions and the cover made you exempt
6) If your provider has already been fined for not acting fairly it is likely that you will have a case.

Supreme Court judgment in Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Ltd (Plevin)
The Plevin decision means that consumers may have new grounds to complain about PPI regarding the amount of money that the providers received for the sale if the commission was undisclosed and made the relationship unfair.

Failure to disclose commission gave rise to an unfair relationship. Over 50% and firms should calculate redress as the excess commission over this 50%.

The FCA requires all firms to write to previously rejected complainants who are eligible to complain in light of Plevin in order to explain the new basis for complaining to them. Consumers with live PPI policies will now be able to complain after the deadline if they have a future claim on their policy rejected for reasons related to the sale. The complaint must be related to the reason the claim was rejected, for example, eligibility, exclusions or limitations.

Finding out if you had PPI
Look at all your loan agreements. See if there is any mention of PPI. Insurance, benefits, protection plan, etc. If so, look through and see if you think you were mis sold.  Although there are calls to make finance companies inform all customers of their PPI agreements, they aren’t doing so. If you can’t find the paperwork and don’t know if you had PPI, don’t despair! Write to the company and ask for a copy of your agreement. Ask for the terms and conditions which were relevant at the time as these may have changed and it’s what they were at the time of agreement that matters. You may have to pay £1 for existing accounts and £10 for closed accounts.

You can also check your credit history which will tell you of any accounts which were live in the last 6 years.

How to claim
Don’t use a Claims Management Company there really isn’t a need and they can’t do anything more than you but will take a hefty chunk of what you are owed. Write to the finance company giving the account details, and any other information such as when it was taken out, different address etc.

Explain how you believe you have been mis sold with as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case.

Should you not be satisfied with the decision you can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman which is currently overturning 54% of cases in favour of the consumer.

More on the FCA website regarding claiming for PPI refunds

For help in most complaint scenarios see How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for guidance, tips, advice, laws and template letters for all you need to know in getting redress!

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