Don’t get blue this Monday, get away from it all…

Don’t get blue this Monday, get away from it all…

Holiday companies use Blue Monday for marketing – here’s how to turn the tables and make it sunny for you and for your wallet!

couple on beach sunset

Blue Monday is the third Monday in the first month of the year, falling this year on 15 January… It is claimed by some to be the most depressing day of the year. The term was coined by Cardiff University lecturer, Dr Cliff Arnall, in 2005, when he “scientifically calculated” a formula for a press release for Sky Travel. (See this Guardian article for more information)

Why depressing? Well, it’s cold, we’ve had a nice few days off over Christmas but we haven’t been paid yet and the credit card bills are starting to come in now. Our New Year resolutions are already failing… What can we do? How about getting away from it all or at least thinking about a future holiday?

Holiday companies will clamour to use this “special” day once again to boost their “deals”. So, for the 15th January, some expert money bloggers and I have joined forces to give you 15 tips on saving money when booking that holiday! We look at turning the tables and playing the travel companies at their own game, so you can save money when you book your trip away. Good huh?

sun setting over water consumer rights, ways to shop around, discounts, alternatives, thinking beyond and searching

Rights

1) I’ll kick off, as you would expect, with your consumer rights. “You have numerous consumer rights to cover you when booking your holiday and for when you are on holiday.  Be aware of them when booking. For example, if you feel that you have made a purchasing decision that you wouldn’t have made had you been given accurate information (such as a misleading price) you may be able to claim a refund under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008”.  There is also the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 of which you should be aware. These give you lots of rights regarding any changes that the company may make, amongst other things!” From the 1st July 2018 use Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements.

Dates and shopping around

2) The Money Whisperer, Emma Maslin says “If you are looking for popular times e.g. school holidays for package holidays, it maybe best to book ahead but if you can be more flexible, wait until closer to the date for the best last-minute deals. We’re going to the same island we went to last year but booked ahead this time. We booked just 7 days before last year and it was over £200 cheaper per person. This year, it might not be a last minute option – that’s the risk you take. But if you are flexible and can go elsewhere or fly a different day to save money, then it pays to look around.”

3) Fiona Hawkes from Savvy in Somerset has found that booking accommodation and flights separately has always been cheaper than a package. She also advises looking round at all the various websites that do this for you, as some will also offer free cancellation or low cost cancellation cover for accommodation.

4) “Haggle!” implores blogger Emma Drew.  “We have haggled between Disney and Virgin Holidays for a cruise. Virgin Holidays were selling it for more than Disney, so we went armed with the info and got them to match Disney and throw some on board credit in! Add that to shopping around for flights with sites like SkySkanner where you can find flights cheaper than going direct.”

Discounts 

5) “Try it on!” Catherine Morgan Financial Money Coach cheekily encourages. “Say you are on your honeymoon or it’s a wedding anniversary, sometimes it works!  Be a bit savvy too. We saved a mint last year when we booked a TUI week away to Kos. We contacted the hotel directly and paid them £100 and got an upgrade with a swim up room. Thomson wanted to charge us £700 extra for the same!”

6) Mrs Mummy Penny, Lynn James, suggests thinking of your friends and family who work for a travel company or hotel. Maybe they have a friends and family offer code they can give you? One of her friends is a concierge at Aria in Las Vegas and can always find her a deal. Often it makes it cheaper than package deals.

7) “Use cashback!” exclaims Emma Bradley of Mums Savvy Savings “Look for discount codes and then use sites like Topcashback* which will give you money straight back into your account too. I saved about £150 from doing this last year.” (I got about £70 from Thomson last Summer too. You can also use Zeek* to see if there are any discounted gift cards which you will be able to use with discounts to reduce the cost still further. (*Refer a friend links. So if you sign up you’ll get a bonus and so will I 🙂 ))

Thinking ahead

8) Faith Archer from Much More with Less cuts food costs while away by booking somewhere to stay with self-catering facilities. “Even the odd breakfast in your room or packed lunch can save cash compared to eating out for every meal!”, she says.

9) Andy Webb from Be Clever With Your Cash advises booking car hire far in advance for the lowest prices “AND make sure the car is big enough! It will only cost a few quid more to get a bigger car when booking, but can be hundreds if you have to upgrade at the check-in desk! Shop around for the car hire, looking direct as well various comparison sites. Plus, if the excess waiver isn’t included don’t buy it from the car rental company. You can get policies for a few quid elsewhere that’ll cover you for damage to the car. Make sure you are comparing like for like inclusive totals.”

10) Buy your travel insurance the day you buy your holiday in case you need it before you go! “But also think about how you are going to buy it. Shop around as it will nearly always be cheaper than the one you get offered with a package. And look at all the group (e.g. group, couple, family) options however your group is made up” says William Pointing from Great Deals Made Easy.

Alternatives to the usual booking routes

11) Hollie Gregersen from ThriftyMum recommends house sitting or pet sitting! “There are a number of websites that provide details of homes you can stay at providing affordable options for holidays in the UK and abroad, including house swaps”.

Getting there

12) Pete Chatfield from Household Money Saving suggests taking a coach if travelling in Europe and saving a fortune.

13) A Thrifty Fox blogger Emily Rowley considers stopover flights; if flying long haul you could save hundreds by planning a break in your journey (tie in with meals if it makes it more bearable!)

14) Joseph Seager of A Thrifty Chap tries to be flexible when booking. Midweek is nearly always cheaper than a weekend. So are less sociable hour flight times. You can save by flying from other airports too, but make sure to factor in different travel to airport/parking/stay costs for your final comparison.

Everytime you search!

15) Above all, if you go back to a website, clear your cookies first. The travel website will put that price up if it knows you’ve looked at that holiday before!

For everything you need to know about your rights when booking, during and after, your holiday see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for lots of different rights and what you should do when and how.

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

 

For even more information, advice, tips, your consumer rights and template letters for most sectors GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

 

 

Making Light Work of Black Friday

Making Light Work of Black Friday
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A recent Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday.

Here are ten top tips for making the most of Black Friday this year.

1) Do you really need it?
Last year there were numerous examples of people arguing/fighting over products and then saying they didn’t know why they had bought what they had! Be prepared and whilst you can be calm and not be taken over by the moment make a list of things you want/need and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of them. Use comparison websites and check regularly for prices and then on Black Friday check again and work out who is cheaper on the day and if it likely to be cheaper somewhere else before or after Black Friday. Keep your list of stockists, dates and prices, if you’re super organised use a spreadsheet!

2) Don’t get carried away
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. That’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need so keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

3) Do your research and shopping online
Where possible do your research and shopping online. You are less likely to get caught up in the heat of the moment and if you are attracted to a bargain as a Christmas present, for example, you will have time to think about it before purchasing.

4) Remember, Black Friday is not just for Christmas
Or something like that. Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year, in the belief that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks.

5) Make sure that a promise is a promise
Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t actually match an online price. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).

6) Exercise your rights if needed
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. If it’s less than 30 days since the point of purchase you are entitled to a full refund, a repair or replacement thereafter. (But you can still accept this before the 30 days if you want to keep that bargain price!)

7) Buy wisely and know what to do if you change your mind
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 Consumer Rights Act 2015.

8) Transfer your consumer rights if it’s a present
Get a gift receipt where possible. The recipient can then use this if necessary. Remember though that the 30 day rule applies from the date of purchase not the date you give the present!

9) Don’t forget Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday follows Black Friday. 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 if and when you see it!