Press Release: Consumer Champion brings light to Black Friday

BFBlack Friday started in America in the early 2000s, found its way over here through Amazon and is now everywhere. However, last year saw near riots in some British supermarkets as people fought over items that they often felt later they didn’t even want or need!

So how can you ensure that you don’t get sucked in to things just because of the discount and be stuck with it, or make sure that you do get the best discount on what you do actually want? Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, blogger and author of the bestseller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! has some tips.

1) Make a list
Start a list of things you want and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of things. Have a list of likely stockists and current prices. Use comparison websites to find these. Then do it again on Black Friday and find out if anyone has it in the Black Friday deal. Remember that some stores may be cheaper than another’s Black Friday deal. This preparation will stand you in good stead when you come to shop when the day comes as it will be quicker to go through stores.

2) A promise is a promise?
Remember that some stores have a price promise but this doesn’t always mean online as well, it could be just in store. For example, John Lewis will not price match online only retailers or mail order companies.

3) Not just one day
Don’t look for bargains just on Black Friday, many retailers are spreading their deals and have been running them throughout November such as Amazon.

4) Know your rights
Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the item must be of satisfactory quality, match the description be fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. This is the same for goods in sales, flash or otherwise.

5) Get a gift receipt
Under the CRA, you have 30 days to get a refund if the item is in breach of the Act after this time the retailer can insist on repair or replacement but you have up to 6 years to claim if considered reasonable. So if the item is for a gift, get a gift receipt or let the recipient know that you have the receipt should anything go wrong.

6) You can change your mind online
You are not entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind so buy wisely! However, when buying off premises (such as online) you have 14 days from when you receive the item(s) in which to change your mind under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Check the terms and conditions for returns though as you may have to pay return postage if the item is not in breach of the CRA.

7) Spread your risk
Sometimes shopping early will get you some fantastic deals, but as some stores start, other companies may follow suit and match price or reduce prices further so there is no ideal time to buy!

8) Budget carefully
Have a price in mind for the amount(s) you are prepared to spend on an individual or total items. It is easy to get carried away especially in store as retailers put out items to entice you to spend more and that’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need! Keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

9) Cyber Monday follows Black Friday
Don’t forget Cyber Monday! There will be more bargains to be had. Also remember that bargains won’t stop after this time, in fact as retailers reassess sales there will be many reductions on a wider variety of goods over a longer period of time.

10) Watch out for extras
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 retailers are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box. It is still happening, so keep an eye out for this and report them when and if you see it!

Found me from Jeremy Vine show?

Hi! If you have found me from my appearance on the Jeremy Vine I’ll list some links that you may find helpful.

More details on me and see why I think it so important to complain here

Top 20 Tips on complaining

Tips on complaining in restaurants here

That address for finding CEOS contact details? Here

The bestselling book here.

Your rights when it comes to faulty goods and services here for purchases and services prior to October 1st 2015.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 for purchases made on or after October 1st 2015

More about the Consumer Rights Act and how it relates to digital content here.

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How to be smart when using a garage

Choosing a garage to undertake repairs on your vehicle
When you choose a garage you should look to see if it is a member of a trade association and if any doubt about the authenticity of the sign you can contact the trade association to check. You can also look online to find garages which are members of the association.

Always agree a price, preferably in writing, before work is undertaken. You may also wish to agree on a maximum total cost for incidental small items which can be incurred without having to call you. If you haven’t done this and you feel that you are overcharged then you should get estimates for the work from other garages to use as evidence. If you are forced to pay, ensure that you state, (in writing as usual is best), that you are paying under protest.

When choosing a garage to undertake work see more details here.

When things go wrong
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 for purchases prior to 1st October 2015) covers vehicle repairs. So should you believe that the repair that you have received is not of satisfactory quality or hasn’t been undertaken in a reasonable length of time you can assert your legal rights and request a refund or that the job is undertaken properly. This includes when a vehicle does not function satisfactorily a few days later due to the repair. Should the garage refuse to refund or redo the job you can go to arbitration through the trade association if it is a member. For peace of mind you might always want to check that a garage is a member before taking your vehicle to it. You should always give the garage a chance to put things right as you have a legal obligation to keep costs to a minimum. You should also be compensated for out of pocket expenses such as using different transport when the garage undertakes the job again but you must keep this to a minimum.

If a garage damages your vehicle then this is a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 prior to 1st October 2015) and the garage must pay to put the damage right unless it can prove it was not responsible.

If the garage claims that it is not responsible for vehicles left in its possession it is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 for servicing before 1st October 2015).

For templates and more tips and advice for complaining about garages see the bestselling book.

Putting an End to Misleading Prices Guest Post by Which?

Regular followers of this blog will know that I bang on about supermarkets a lot! See my many posts and communications with Tesco, last and current CEOs in History with Tesco, commenting on the radio about supermarket figures  and researching, writing and speaking about supermarkets most annoying habits in the media. In the latter, many complaints were about pricing. So I asked Which? to provide an update on their super complaint.

Putting an End to Misleading Prices 

Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?
Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?

For the past eight years Which? has time and time again found misleading pricing practices being used by supermarkets.

With £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013 alone, and 40% of groceries (by revenue) currently sold on promotion, dodgy deals could be costing British consumers hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

After raising the issue with industry only to receive a lack-lustre response we decided enough was enough and made use of our super-complaint powers.

The power to make a super-complaint is only held by a handful of organisations. Its purpose is to allow bodies to submit a complaint on any feature, or combination of features, of a market in the UK for goods or services which are, or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers.

Which? submitted a super-complaint on supermarket misleading pricing practices to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April 2015. The complaint relayed our findings, evidence and concerns about the shrinking products, misleading special offers and dodgy multibuys offer we had found lining supermarket shelves across the UK.

On the submission of the super-complaint the CMA had 90 days to respond and make any recommendations if they believed there was a problem.

During those 90 days we were overwhelmed by the response of consumers. Many got in touch to tell us about the dodgy deals they had experienced whilst doing their shopping and 200,000 people signed our petition (you can still sign and support) to put an end to the misleading pricing practices.

But of course, whilst consumers were fed up with the dodgy deals and were making their voice heard, the outcome hung on the CMA. After weighing up the evidence, and finding hundreds of dodgy offers themselves, the CMA’s responded saying that there is a problem and that it did needs solving, a real win for consumers.

In a move which sent a strong message to supermarkets, the CMA announced a raft of positive recommendations to deal with several of the issues we had found.

In a nutshell these recommendations look to strengthen the guidelines around special offers, make unit pricing clearer so consumers can make informed decisions and tighten the pricing rules in general.

Several of these recommendations need to be implemented by Government who have since come out in support of the findings.

Consumer Minister Nick Boles welcomed the findings saying:
‘Shoppers need to be able to get the best deal and make comparisons easily so we will look at how we can make information on price as clear and as simple as possible.’

This is real progress, but Which? will be keeping a close eye to ensure tangible and positive changes are delivered by government and the CMA meaning consumers know when a deal is genuinely a good one.

For more information on our campaign to Put an End to Misleading Pricing visit the Which? website page.

By Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?

If you have a complaint about misleading pricing in a supermarket see this advice by Which?

More on complaints about supermarket tactics to make us spend more here:

A guide to credit cards and the Consumer Credit Act 1974

imagesAX32L6R1If you have a problem with an item you have bought or service you have received you can contact your credit card company. You may want to do this for example when the company has gone bust, is refusing to give you a refund or does not respond to communications from you. You have a right to be refunded if you make a claim within 6 years (5 in Scotland) using Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Purchases over £100 and less than £30,000 are covered. You are covered if you pay as little as 1p but the item costs more than £100.

In 2007, a ruling by the House of Lords defined that Section 75 has no territorial limitations, therefore, cardholders who use their credit cards to make purchases abroad are protected in the same way as in the UK. So, purchases made on a credit card may also be covered under Section 75 when; goods or services are purchased from a foreign supplier whilst the cardholder is abroad, purchased from a foreign supplier for delivery to the UK, or purchased from a foreign supplier or agent who is temporarily in the UK.

Completing a credit card transaction through a third party payment service means that the credit card provider and the seller are no longer in a direct relationship so are not equally liable. This applies therefore to services such as PayPal, Amazon Marketplace, Worldpay and Google Checkout.

In the UK, where you are entitled to specific statutory protections the credit card company is a second party to the purchase and is therefore equally liable in law if the other party defaults or goes into liquidation. However under Section 75 Consumer Credit Act 1979, the purchaser loses this legal protection if the card payment is processed via PayPal.

For an example of using the Consumer Credit Act 1979 see this post.

Purchases bought on debit cards and below £100 are not covered by the Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Chargeback, although not part of any act of law, is a voluntary scheme based on scheme rules set by card issuers such as Mastercard and Visa. Because it isn’t set in law you should use the Consumer Credit Act 1974 where possible, otherwise Chargeback can be applied for similar situations.

You will need to make the request within 120 days of the transaction date. Bear in mind that this scheme is much less well known than the Section 75 rule and so many staff might not know of it if you ring the bank. My advice therefore would always be to write.

If the bank/credit card company rejects your claim and/or you are unhappy with the process you can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman but not to court.

For help in complaining when you can’t use this cover see Tips for complaining.