How to challenge terms & conditions (even those you’ve agreed)

The One Show today covers Terms and Conditions. Who reads them? Would you follow them if told?

There are pages and pages of small print. How many of us tick the box that says “Agree to terms and conditions”, only to fall foul later when we need to complain?

The Government thought so too and there was a call for evidence from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills for consumers to provide feedback regarding their experiences. The open consultation ended on 25 April 2016 but there is still no response. I’ve requested details of when this will be forthcoming but as yet not heard anything.

So what can you do in the meantime if you feel that the terms and conditions you agreed to actually turned out to be unfair? Don’t worry, all is not lost!

Consumer Rights Act 2015 and unfair contracts
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) creates a ‘fairness test’ to stop consumers being put at unfair disadvantage. A term is unfair if it tilts the rights and responsibilities between the consumer and the trader too much in favour of the trader. The test is applied by looking at what words are used and how they could be interpreted. It takes into consideration what is being sold, what the other terms of the contract say and all the circumstances at the time the term was agreed. There is an exemption for the essential obligations of contracts – setting the price and describing the main subject matter – provided the wording used is clear and prominent. There is also an exemption for wording that has to be used by law. If you have been misled into making a decision that you would otherwise not have made then the company is in breach of this law.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014) (CPUTRs)

For a practice to be unfair under these rules, they must harm, or be likely to harm, the economic interests of the average consumer. For example, when a shopper makes a purchasing decision he or she would not have made had he or she been given accurate information or not put under unfair pressure to do so.

The regulations prohibit trading practices that are unfair to consumers. There are four different types of practices covered:

A general ban – on conduct below a level which may be expected towards consumers (honest market practice/good faith).

Misleading practices  a practice misleads through the information it contains, or its deceptive presentation, and causes, or is likely to cause, the average consumer to take a different transactional decision specifically; general misleading information, creating confusion with competitors’ products or failing to honour commitments made in a code of conduct.

Aggressive sales techniques using harassment, coercion or undue influence– significantly impairs, or is likely to significantly impair, the average consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the product through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence – and  thereby causes him to take a different transactional decision.

31 specific practices (that would be two long boring pages of  post! It is pretty thorough though and all of them are listed in the book ). 🙂

How to use
Say for example, your mobile ‘phone is constantly losing signal and you can’t use it like any customer would want to, that is a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 because it has not supplied you with services carried out with reasonable skill and care and you have every right to terminate the contract. If however, the company tells you that in the terms and conditions of the contract that you signed, you can’t break a contract early under any circumstances, that’s a breach of the above laws, because they have not kept to their side of the bargain! In fact, the telecoms sector is downright awful for customer service so here is some more advice on them. All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers.

Another example. You were told that you could have a free cup of coffee and cake for giving your email address. You signed up. You had your coffee and cake they then tell you that in the terms and conditions you have to clean the floor. You argue that you didn’t know but they say “It’s in the terms and condition”. Tough. For them. Under the CRA it could be an unfair contract, because cleaning the floor could be considered as worth more in payment than the coffee and cake (maybe it would depend how big the floor was?!) But under the CPUTRs it is a big fat breach. You would argue that you were misled into giving your email address.

When you complain use the Top 20 Tips.

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For more information, advice, tips, consumer laws and template letters covering the majority of issues you might incur with most sectors  GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

 

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 staff 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 they get fed up and quit. 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.

You are entitled to the compensation (details in link above) unless you are offered re-routing, allowing you to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach your final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival”.

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!

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. (Court action may mean having to pay Ryanair costs so take advice).

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.”

Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force to cover airlines October 1st 2016 but it is such a new law that it’s largely untested and will be until we get a definitive judge-lead ruling. So given the lack of confidence in the airline ADR provider (as highlighted recently on BBC Watchdog) which lost its previous ombudsman title, in circumstances which remain unclear,  The Retail Ombudsman is no more  the consumer really has 2 realistic routes, that’s to go direct to the airline setting out that there has been a breach and the losses and if there is no remedy there it’s on to court for a ruling on both the CRA and contract breach. I think Ryanair will settle they wouldn’t want to risk it. So write to the airline detailing your case I think you’ll find that they will pay out just as BA did with their fiasco in May.

The UK EU Consumer Centres says “Consumers may be able to pursue the airlines under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) as the company should perform a service with reasonable care and skill. Also, another instrument that passengers may be able to use is the Montreal Convention.” The CAA has been looking at how the CRA will work with the Montreal Convention as it is very complicated regarding what and when you are covered as the MC applies once in the sky and over rules anything else. It is far from clear cut!

However, request it as advised in the post and if you follow the tips you’ll get it as people are.

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!

Accountability
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.)

Update – 27th September 2017  CAA has  launched enforcement action against Ryanair for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations.

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.

Price hikes

 

 

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.

Your rights and how to complain about ferries and cruises

Ferries/cruises
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 was applied to ferries from 1st October 2016. You are now entitled to services carried out with reasonable skill and care. If they are not then you should be able to gain redress.

If your ferry service is cancelled or departure is delayed for more than 90 minutes, you are entitled to either an alternative sailing at the earliest opportunity at no additional cost or reimbursement of the ticket price which should be paid within seven days. If you choose an alternative crossing, you’re still entitled to claim compensation for the delay to your original journey.

While you wait (when delayed for more than 90 minutes or it is expected to be cancelled) you are entitled to meals and refreshments if they can be reasonably supplied even if the reason is bad weather.

If an overnight stay is required due to the delay/cancellation then the ferry or cruise operator must offer you accommodation free of charge, if possible. This can be on board or ashore.

Your ferry company can offer alternatives such as permitting you to make your own separate plans to travel and reimburse your expenses. No overnight accommodation has to be offered or costs reimbursed if the delay is caused by weather conditions endangering the safe operation of the ship.

For all things complaining holidays see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights

For more advice, tips and templates for complaining  see GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Tesco insect in raspberries!

Time for a Tesco complaint story. Well would be a shame not to wouldn’t it? For those new here see History with Tesco!

So, there I was down at my Mum’s and she bought some raspberries and cream. She did this little shriek when she nearly put some sort of flying insect thing in her mouth ‘cos it was stuck on a raspberry. Now, given that I once found an insect in Tesco rice a few years back and how Tesco dealt with it – I refused to take back to the store as not knowing if it would get “lost” in the post. Anyway, I sent it for them to investigate and they found out what insect it was and gave me £30 for my trouble. This was in Clarke’s day and I wondered if things had changed.

Now, having met Dave Lewis the group CEO a few times including interviewing him last year I thought I’d email him. Normally I wouldn’t expect a CEO to respond directly but I thought well he knows me and I’ll use my normal humour and see if it makes him smile.

See if it does you?

Dave

Before your time at Tesco I bought some rice from Tesco with an insect alive in it. I named him Phillip. Insect in rice.

But now there’s big trouble because I’m down at my Mum’s and she bought some raspberries from Tesco. (Taunton). Raspberries and cream we had and she just stopped short of putting some in her mouth as some thing very big with lots of wiggily wriggly legs crawled out of a raspberry. It may have had wings but there was a bit of a cream crust so can’t be sure. Was hoping to film him crawling but my mother suffocated him with some Tesco finest clotted cream. Not a bad way for Mike to go I suppose but even so Tesco has upset my Mum now and so, well, that has to be at least an email to the CEO obviously! She was very cross which means I am. But I won’t bother with the stuff that I usually put in these things regarding legal stuff and redress because I trust you to do right by my mum!

I have Mike ready to post to Tesco for testing to see what it was and where it came from. If he has wings we may need to change the name to Saint Michael.

Happy Easter

Kind regards
Helen

Well we thought it was funny. I’d normally do the kind of email that always gets results regarding Consumer Rights Act 2015 etc etc. But got the usual email from the executive office. They took a long time getting back to me with no reference to the story. Miserable whatsits. They told the supplier but didn’t want the raspberries to check what it was. They gave my mum £20.

Well my Mum was pleased….

Tesco Group CEO email or Tesco UK CEO contact details  should you need them.

Quick guide to lost luggage – your rights

If your luggage is lost or damaged you should be able to claim from the airline. Different airlines have different rules, but as a general rule of thumb, the CAA says airlines often don’t automatically consider themselves liable for consequential losses and so the only way you could enforce a request if the airline initially refuses to do so, is in court. A consequential loss may be missing a connecting flight because you were waiting for your luggage. Airlines will usually deal with these issues on a case by case basis. They should pay out for essentials and you will have to follow the airline’s specific procedures for complaints, noting the time within which you need to complain. You may get more on your travel insurance but this will depend on the cover taken out and of course the excess.

Your rights lost luggageLuggage is considered lost after 21 days. You must report the fact that your luggage has been lost, delayed or damaged at the airport and keep a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) which staff of the airline will complete. It is not a legal requirement to have this and some airports may not have them. To make a claim you must then contact the airline in writing:

Lost/stolen/damaged luggage – within 7 days

Delayed bags from receiving the delayed bag –within 21 days

If the airline accept your claim, they may pay for your baggage to be repaired, or may provide replacement baggage. If your luggage turns up a day or two later the airline has to make arrangements for getting it to you as efficiently as possible. Where luggage doesn’t show up, you should be able to monitor it through the tracing procedure, either by contacting baggage services at the airport, the airline’s central department or by logging into an online baggage-tracing page with a reference number.

For information about your rights on holidays see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights.

For more information. advice tips, guidance, laws and templates for complaining effectively see the bestselling book.