The Complaining Cow and Rip Off Britain

I was on Rip Off Britain. Luckily not live but unluckily not with the hair and make up lady working miracles like she did when I was on BBC Breakfast! 🙁 (If it is now after the programme and you’ve found your way to this site after seeing me, thanks!) Welcome to my blog full of (occasional rants), redress, refunds and results.

I’ll say now of course that they edited out all the best bits of me where I was very witty, charming, pleasant and gave loads of splendid advice.

So for those of you new here, I thought it might be useful just to give you some links to various posts you may find helpful and may have been hoping to find when you got here rather than the drivel you’ve just read.

You can see the clips from the episode

Various pages and posts you might find of interest
I think, if they keep it in there was much coverage of using social media to complain. Here is my post about my full thoughts on that.
Top Tips for complaining effectively
7 common fobs offs companies use to not give refunds!
Your rights mail order, online and delivery
Up to date information on changes made to consumer law earlier this year giving you more rights.
How to take charge of your energy bills
The ultimate guide to complaining when eating out

CEOemail for contact details for all CEOs

As well as posts aimed at informing people about their consumer rights, the blog is full of stories of effective complaining, just take a look around. But for now I just give you Tesco. Now! There are a lot of Tesco posts on here and if you put Tesco into the search thingy on the right lots of posts will come up. In fact, my very first post was about Tesco and that gives you links to all the other posts. (I particularly like all the comments which I do believe has helped the blog’s Google ranking for when you put in “Tesco complaints”. Contact details, MSE site, then my post. Well I think it is funny!) But for now you might like the fact that I took them to court and won. And no I am not the reason they have the financial problems that they do, although I did predict they would have problems because Clarke didn’t listen to customers. All the Tesco posts are listed here.

Social media
Youtube channel – links to various radio and tv appearances, videos of me providing info on tips on effective complaining. (Also a few clips on a surgery with Iain Duncan Smith where I took him to task a bit, to no avail but I do believe in effective complaining rather than just moaning, I tried). You can subscribe to my channel there too.
Twitter – follow me here for top tip tweets, rants and general chit chat
Facebook – please like my page for various updates and join in the rants, questions, funny pictures or links of the day from me. 🙂

To keep up to date with consumer news and The Complaining Cow sign up for the newsletter. I only send emails a few times a year when I remember. I certainly won’t be spamming you, but the next one will be out shortly with news on survey results and my NEW BOOK  out now!

Thank you for visiting and hope to see you again soon.


Everything You Need to Know About Your Water Supply

Does your supply get interrupted?
Does your supply get interrupted?

Water companies are regulated by Ofwat. Each water company must follow the guaranteed standards scheme which is a statutory scheme that provides compensation in the event of service failure and have a complaint procedure in place.  In addition each company must have various codes of practice including its customer code of practice and other codes covering domestic leakage, debt recovery and pipe laying. They also have to have a published charges scheme – this outlines the charges the company has to apply for different groups of customer. All companies are required to have complaints procedures and all the above must be covered by Ofwat.

Ofwat regulates the water and sewerage sectors to drive improvements in service. It monitors each company’s performance, comparing service across the industry and supporting best practice. It will also take action against any company that fails to provide the level of service customers expect.

The guaranteed standards scheme includes standards about how a water company must:

  • make and keep appointments
  • maintain the right water pressure
  • deal with interruptions to the supply
  • answer account queries and complaints.

The standards don’t apply in certain situations – e.g., if the problem is caused by severe weather conditions, industrial action or someone else’s actions. If a company doesn’t agree to the request to pay for bills in a different way, it must tell the consumer this within five working days or pay compensation of £20. The water company must pay compensation if essential household water supplies are interrupted because of an emergency drought order. This is part of their licence conditions.

Water companies should usually supply water at a minimum of seven metres static head, unless low pressure is due to drought or essential maintenance work. If the pressure falls below this for an hour or more on at least two occasions in a 28 day period, you’re entitled to a payment or credit of £25. Only one payment of £25 can be made in any one financial year. If the fall in pressure is due to industrial action or someone other than the water company then no payment will be made.

Water companies should provide a minimum of 48 hours of any interruption to supply and provide details of when it will be restored. If it does not or does not restore supply by the specified time then you are usually entitled to £20 compensation and a further £20 compensation if you don’t receive the first £20 within 20 days. In cases where an emergency such as a burst pipe has caused interruption the company must restore the water within 12 hours although this rises to 48 hours if it is a strategic main pipe. The company must tell consumers as soon as possible regarding where an alternative water supply can be obtained, when it plans to restore the supply and a telephone number for more information.

Again, if the supply is not restored by the time the company says it will be compensation is due. £20 for the first 24 hours and £10 for each further 24 hour period the supply remains unrestored.

If the interruption lasts more than 12 hours, the company should provide an alternative supply, for example, bottled water or tankers in the street known as bowsers.

For Scotland write to the Scottish Water and Sewerage Customers’ Council, Northern Ireland, the Water Services Office of the Department of the Environment and for England and Wales, Ofwat where guidelines are similar.

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For more on your consumer rights and how to assert them effectively see The Tips and for even more advice, guidance information and templates  GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

How to Deal with JD Sports Poor Customer Service


The nice Scotts/JD Sports T shirt
The nice Scotts/JD Sports T shirt

Andrea bought a Penguin Pocket Red T shirt from Scotts, part of the JD Sports chain paying £29.00. The shirt had been worn once and washed once and she returned it to the store two weeks later. She was told that the t shirt would need to be sent off for inspection despite the notice in their store saying that this would be done when items were over 90 days old.


Clearly a fault with JD Sports T shirt?!
Clearly a fault with JD Sports T shirt?!

She received a letter back saying that the fault was due to “contact damage”. Utterly ridiculous, what contact damage and by whom given as we believe that the hole was there at point of purchase and if it wasn’t it developed within one day’s wear and day’s wash and the hole was in the stitching which the photograph alone showed! 


Clearly a breach of the Sale  and Supply of Goods Act!  (From the 1st October 2015 you would now quote Consumer Rights Act 2015.) Andrea then wrote and didn’t receive a response. She emailed again and was told that they hadn’t received the letter (despite it being signed for!) but would do another inspection. She then contact me and I wrote this for her to send the CEO:


Dear Mr Cowgill

I received a letter from xxxx department to which my complaint was passed. However, I have already written to this department and part of my complaint was how they dealt with it. In fact the matter has now got worse. Scotts has rejected my claim regarding the faulty product. It has now since said that my letter can’t be found even though it was sent recorded delivery and was signed for, for which I obviously have proof. I am now being told to resend the t shirt. I am not going to do this. I have already sent this once and see no reason why I should be put to yet more inconvenience due to Scott’s appalling service. Under the amended Sales of Goods Act 1979 I am entitled to goods that are of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. This t shirt clearly breaches that.


I expect a full refund and appropriate redress for the inconvenience caused. I look forward to hearing from you within seven days. Should I not be fully satisfied with your response I will start proceedings in the Small Claims Court against you with no further reference to you. I will be claiming for the cost of the t shirt, the cost of an independent report stating that the t shirt has only been washed once, cost of postage (recorded delivery etc.) redress for my time spent on the matter, the court fee and out of pocket expenses for attending court (e.g. work time, mileage, parking costs etc.)

Yours sincerely


Andrea received a call from the manager of Customer Services saying that they said they don’t think they were in breach of consumer rights (I beg to differ) but as a goodwill gesture they would refund the full amount in a voucher (I had told Andrea not to accept this, cash refund only to which he then agreed) plus £20 gift voucher on return of the t shirt. A good result in the end but the matter didn’t end there.


Unfortunately, Andrea wrote to customer services to say that she had thought about the conversation and couldn’t she just dispose of the garment? She received an email back to say that if she did not return the garment she would not get a refund. You must keep to your agreements you make with customer services otherwise why should they keep theirs? They were paying the postage for the return and providing a goodwill gesture so it is not unreasonable for the item to be returned, they might want it for quality control or tax purposes. It’s a fair enough statement to say no return no refund and Andrea was receiving a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience.


However, the matter did not end there. As often is the case in customer services, the internal communication was appalling and Andrea received an email to say that they needed the t shirt for inspection and couldn’t over turn the decision! Meanwhile, Andrea had tried to use the gift card in store and was told that there was no money on it and it would take some days for it to appear. This is obviously nonsense. She wasted more time in store trying to deal with the matter.


I wrote again outlining the embarrassment and poor service plus the ridiculous email she received. Andrea received a further £20 goodwill gesture receiving this time a card for £40 that worked.


This story outlines one of the classic fob offs trying to say that the fault was not there at point of purchase. It also highlights the need to persevere sometimes and pursue your legal rights.


Would you like to email JD Sports CEO? Here you go – all the contact details. You’re welcome 🙂


How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For more information on how to complain effectively with tips, advice and template letters see the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!




All You Need to Know About Unsolicited Goods

Second to the original Tesco post this is the most read post. So we glean from that, that many people receive items that they did not request! However, most of the time these are not unsolicited goods. NONE of the comments from people believing/hoping that they have received unsolicited goods so far, relate to true unsolicited goods other than one regarding items from Estonia!

I have stopped all comments to this post because well over a hundred comments and only one was truly about unsolicited goods and they were goods from abroad. The answers to your queries are in this post and the links. Please read them! This includes the comments, your story will be there. Stopping comments hasn’t worked, people are still emailing me simply in the hope that their case is different. It isn’t. If you know the sender or can easily find out then it is up to you to take the risk of keeping the goods or notifying them. Simple. I will not respond to ANY email about unsolicited goods. Sorry, but I have had so many and every single one is answered in this post and I’m quite sick of it now to be perfectly honest! Don’t believe me that your query isn’t here? Try reading the comments too.

Unsolicited Goods
Most people are familiar with the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971. Unsolicited goods are also covered in the newer regulations The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 which say you have a right to keep goods delivered to you that you didn’t request. Specifically, from the legislation:

“Part 4 of the Regulations contains provisions concerning protection from unsolicited sales and additional charges which have not been expressly agreed in advance. Regulation 39 introduces a new provision into the Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which provides that a consumer is not required to pay for the unsolicited supply of products. Regulation 40 provides that a consumer is not required to make payments in addition to those agreed for the trader’s main obligation, unless the consumer gave express consent before conclusion of the contract”.

You are under no legal obligation to contact the trader and can keep the goods. However, true unsolicited goods sent within the UK are rare these days and I have yet to hear of any.

Request for payment 
Should you receive a request for payment from a trader for unsolicited goods it has committed a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You can report them to Trading Standards. Bear in mind that if you have chosen to keep an item sent to you in error which the company can prove  e.g. from a screen shot of the wrong code being put into the system then the company has not committed an offence and you will have to pay for the item should you not follow the advice below on “Not unsolicited goods

Not unsolicited goods
1) If you have been sent items by mistake; such as a duplicate order or additional items, mistaken identity, wrong address, in your name but you didn’t order them, any kind of fraud

2) Replacement order

3) Faulty item

4) Item you have that was faulty and waiting for collection at any point in the replacement process

5) If you have had any contact with any company and you have any order with them and they send you something different/additional

6) Substitute goods should be agreed with the trader and you.

For the examples above, the company is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. See also this post on deliveries. this is NOT unsolicited goods.

7) Thing(s) meant for someone else. Still not unsolicited goods if clearly a mistake and you are able to contact the company which sent the item.

What to do with non unsolicited goods
1) Contact the company and request that they come and collect the goods. Tell them that you are giving them 14 days in which they can contact you and arrange collection or you will dispose of the goods. Make sure that you do this in writing with proof of postage/read receipt email so that you have a record if you dispose/keep/sell the item. See this post.

2) There should be no cost or inconvenience to you. State also that you will dispose of the goods if you are not sent a return postage label/packaging or arrangement for a courier. Keep this correspondence evidence.

3) If you have been in contact with the company regarding ordering items see Mail Order, online and deliveries and Consumer Right Act 2015

Your call
Mostly, it boils down to morals and whether you want to take the risk keeping an item and I cannot make that call for you. But bear in mind that if the item(s) were sent in error (see not unsolicited goods above) they may contact you and if you have used the item you will have to pay for it. Many times the company says keep the item.

General rule of thumb which answers most if not all the questions in the comments – if you have received goods from a company that you deal with it is 99% likely that there has been an error such as someone putting in the wrong number into the computer. These are NOT unsolicited goods. Unsolicited goods are simply receiving something out of the blue from a company that you have not been in contact with!

You must try to do everything to return the item if it falls into any of the other categories above.

Worth saying again
It is extremely unlikely going from the popularity of this post and the comments I receive that you are in possession of unsolicited goods, or that your case is unique. You probably HAVE received poor service however and there is probably a breach of consumer law! For that, please see Tips on complaining, the links above re laws and the bestselling book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

If you are having problems contacting the company try the ceo and you can get the contact details for him or her here at

The days of receiving packages with a demand for payment seem to have gone as this is illegal and no-one in the comments below other than someone who received a package from outside the UK has received unsolicited goods.