Passengers doubly likely to be delayed on flights will need double the help!

School holiday time is upon us again. For many people this will mean taking a flight abroad to a favourite destination. But it is now more likely than ever that you will encounter problems with your flight. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently revealed that delays so far this year have already more than doubled, compared to 2017. European Air Traffic Control Delays Loom over Summer Air Travel.

IATA says “Data from Eurocontrol shows that in the first half of 2018, Air Traffic Management (ATM) delays more than doubled to 47,000 minutes per day, 133% more than in the same period last year. Most of these delays are caused by staffing and capacity shortages as well as other causes such as weather delays and disruptive events. The average delay for flights delayed by air traffic control limitations reached 20 minutes in July, but the longest delay reached 337 minutes (5 hours 37 minutes).”

Companies do not do enough to inform people of their rights and most people do not get the compensation they are owed. So, here are some tips on what to do if your flight is postponed, cancelled or you are denied boarding.

aeroplane wing in sky "Flight delays more than doubled in the EU. Your rights"

1)    Compensation for delays is only due on flights in the EU or when using an EU airline arriving two hours (for cancelled and denied boarding flights up to 1,500km, 3 hours for over this length) or more late. How much you are entitled to depends on how long the delay and how long the flight. It changes again if the flight is cancelled before/after seven days before you are due to depart. It does not reflect the price of the flight and is a fixed amount of compensation.

2)    If your flight is cancelled or delayed for several hours – the airline must look after passengers. It must provide food, drinks, and some communications. If you are delayed overnight, this also means providing you with a hotel and the travel to and from it. (All these must still be provided even if the delay was out of the airline’s control).

3)    If your flight is cancelled – the airline must offer an alternative flight or a full refund. You may also be entitled to compensation if the flight was cancelled less than 14 days before the scheduled departure.

4)    Denied boarding or “bumped” from a flight – the airline must offer an alternative flight or a refund. Passengers are entitled to compensation. (Between €125 and €600 depending on length of flight).

5)    If your flight is delayed by more than 5 hours and you no longer want to travel you, and your fellow passengers, are entitled to a full refund.

6)    If you miss your connecting flight and so arrived at the final destination more than 3 hours late, you are entitled to compensation of between €250 and €600. However, this is only the case if you book both flights together but they can be with different airlines.

7)    Airlines may advise you to make alternative travel arrangements, then claim back the cost later. If you do this, try to keep costs down as much as you can, keep receipts and write down the name of the person giving this advice. Book with the same airline if at all possible.

8)    Airlines may try and fight your claim! Be ready with quoting your legal rights. You are due to compensation under Regulation (EC) 261/2004. In March 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that airlines must pay compensation when passengers miss a connecting flight and arrive more than 3 hours late, even for destinations outside of the EU.

9)    The airlines do not have to respond to complaints within an official time limit, so set them a date by which you expect to receive a response. At the very least they should send you “holding letter” of investigation upon receipt of your complaint.

10) If you are not satisfied with the response you can take the issue to an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider, such as CEDR for BA flights, or make a claim through the online small claims system.

You have up to 6 years to request compensation, so look at cases where you have been refused compensation in the past. It is such a small minority of people who claim this compensation, airlines should do more to ensure passengers are given what’s due instead of blatantly ripping them off!blue sky aeroplane

See  All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for more information about flights delays, including compensation levels and holiday complaints.

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Don’t let shopping online become a “rip off”

The Complaining Cow follows up on her Rip Off Britain advice

When purchasing items online it’s easy to get carried away when you see what you think is a bargain. But make sure you know where you are buying from and what your rights are before you part with your money, especially if the retailer is outside the EU.

woman with coffee cup hand on mouse at laptop

Rights

If you are buying anything online, under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013  you have 14 days cooling off period for changing your mind. There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. Whether or not return postage has to be paid when you change your mind depends on the trader’s terms and conditions.

If you paid extra for speedier delivery and it wasn’t delivered on time, you are entitled to this cost back. If the item is faulty (regardless of whether it is a bespoke item) you should not have to pay return postage and you should be refunded the full cost of any postage paid for sending the item to you. These regulations were put into place in the UK under an EU Directive and therefore you have this cover for purchasing all items online within the EU.

If the item costs over a £100 and you pay by credit card you will also have cover under Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which is worldwide. Notify the credit card provider if you get no redress from the retailer.

For items paid for using your bank debit card you may be able to use Chargeback. It is a voluntary scheme based on scheme rules set by card issuers such as Mastercard and Visa.

You also have cover when shopping with PayPal. However, completing a credit card transaction through a thirdparty 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. So you don’t have any credit card cover if you use these kind of services.

Rip Off Britain

On the Pop Up segment of Rip Off Britain I heard the case of Kathy, who ordered a dress online but didn’t realise the website was based in, and the product would be delivered  from, China. The dress was not as described and was of poor quality. The company would not refund the postage costs. Their website however does say that “However you need to pay the return shipping fee on your own if there is no quality issue.”

As there was a quality issue I advised Kathy  it would be worth arguing again that it was of poor quality. I suggested sending an email and including a picture from the website alongside a picture of what was received, as evidence, plus a description of the differences between any description of the item and what was actually received. I don’t know whether she did this so I don’t know the outcome.

That’s all she could do. So take care when ordering online!

How to spot a non UK website

  • The website only lists prices in US dollars or Euros.
  • Look for terms and conditions of returns.
  • Check for poor English. For example on this website in the “Rip Off Britain” case below was the grammatically incorrect phrase “item have stain”.
  • Search for the return address.
  • A website domain name is not always an indication of where the company is based. For example, a website address ending in .co.uk doesn’t necessarily mean the site is based in the UK

If you need help with a purchase bought from within the EU you can contact the European Consumer Centre who should be able to assist you.

Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively

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How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

I was on ITV Anglia on the 20th April talking about a bad experience someone had with using an online holiday letting website and how you can protect yourself. So thought a post providing more information would be useful.sofa in ground floor property with open stairs and text Holiday lets, problems, prevention and your rightsWith the increase in sites such as AirBNB, HomeAway.co.uk and HolidayCottages.co.uk more and more people are letting their homes and holidaymakers are taking advantage of the additional competition and range of places to stay. However, with an increase of availability comes of course an increase in problems.

I’ve been hearing a growing number of complaints from people who have booked through these type of sites. So how can you protect yourself when looking for somewhere to stay?

    • Only book through a third party site which has a clear refund policy and which takes secure payments by credit card. Don’t book directly if the owner tries to get you to do this, as you will have less protection. Airbnb, for example, will ban a host who tries to get a guest to book directly.
    • You wouldn’t buy a high-priced item from an unknown shop or person without reservations or putting some checks in place, so be careful of doing it online.
    • The site should display a valid postal address, a working customer service email address and phone number and have a good “About us” page.
    • Check out reviews about the property on the booking and on other sites. Google the place to get a good feel of what is being said about it. If there are not many reviews, ignore the very best and the very worst. There are such things as fake reviews, both from competitors and friends and family of the property owners!
    • When you arrive, if there are any problems, take pictures or film with running commentary, ensuring that they are all dated and timed. This will make for good evidence should you need to complain.
    • If possible, ask the landlord to be present at time of you taking over the property to makes notes of any damage or breakages and sign a document to this effect.
    • Request proof of ownership, there have been stories of people letting properties they don’t own!
    • Check out insurance. What is covered and what you may need.
    • Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to services that are carried out with reasonable skill and care. The property and its facilities must also be as described. So, if the property does not match the description, you’ve been misled or the site or owner has provided you with services not carried out with reasonable skill and care then you can use this law to gain redress. This may be a partial or full refund, for example.

 

To complain effectively see Top 20 Tips.

See also

How to complain when booking a service based in the EU – covers two stories one of them for Rip Off Britain) I dealt with regarding Booking.com where EU law was used to gain redress.

What to do when ripped off by a hotel – more information regarding complaining about hotels

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights – links to various posts regarding stories, advice, tips and your rights for various aspects of booking and taking your holiday/flights.

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GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for more information, tips, advice, consumer rights, stories and template letters for complaining about most issues in most sectors!

 

 

 

All you need to know when an event is cancelled

concert or festival cancelled your rights on top of people dancing on beach

The Summer of 2017 saw a lot of concerts and festivals cancelled. Due to bad weather, poor planning or something else, thousands of people were left disappointed and many of them out of pocket. So what do you do if the event for which you have booked cancels at the last minute?

Well, it depends on what the reason for cancelling was and how much notice you were given really.

So let’s take a few examples…

 

Event cancelled due to not enough sales
The organiser informs you that it has not made enough sales and so is cancelling the concert. This should mean an automatic refund of the tickets. If you made special arrangements, such as buying train tickets, booking a hotel you may be able to claim consequential loss. The organiser is in breach of contract so should be liable for consequential loss. However, you would have to prove that you would not be using the tickets or booking and that they were bought with non refundable terms. You probably have a good chance because not many people know how to complain about this and claim! However the organiser may well argue in which case your only option is to claim in the Small Claims Court. It would probably be a test case though, so if you do it, please let me know!

The closer to the concert they cancel the stronger your case may be. You could also argue that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 they did not provide services with reasonable skill and care because they did not market the concert well enough.

The concert organisers should have insurance too!

Event cancelled due to ill health
Here the organisers may offer tickets for another day. This is up to you whether you want to take or not as you are still entitled to a full refund.

Consequential loss will be as above but you couldn’t argue not carrying out services with reasonable skill and care.

Event cancelled due to health and safety reasons
It can be a little bit sticky here because it isn’t as simple as there was so much rain and mud we had to cancel. One word “Glastonbury” which sticks two fingers up at bad weather! That’s partly because they put measures to ensure the safety of festival goers. So when you hear of another festival cancelling due to rain and mud you are probably well within your rights to claim consequential loss because the organisers are in breach of contract for not providing services with reasonable skill and care. Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Event cancelled due to organisers going into administration
In short, you are stuck. It means that the company doesn’t have the money to refund you the cost of your tickets. It will owe money all over the place and you will be at the bottom of the list. However, you should write to the administrators as soon as possible with proof of your purchase and you will be added to the creditors list. It is unlikely that you will be paid out, but if another company takes over it is possible and if your name is down you have more chance that for those who aren’t.

Overall
In all cases where the CRA has been beached you should follow the 20 top tips for complaining effectively outlining the reasons for claiming for consequential loss with evidence of these costs being non refundable. Take a copy of the tickets if you are posting your claim and send that, you know, just in case they say they didn’t receive your letter!

When you complain follow the Top 20 Tips for Complaining and if you still aren’t satisfied with the response take it up with the festival organiser CEO you can get their contact details at ceoemail.com

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

 

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Freezing energy problems? Your rights all you need to know

snow high up from ground to treets

Left out in the cold by your energy company? All you need to know about your rights
Well this is a Winter and a half isn’t it? Quite incredible. It is inevitable that many people will have had problems with their gas or electricity supply We just had a bit of emergency with the water tank too! So, in exceptional circumstances such as this weather, what are you rights?

I think one has to be aware that these are truly out-of-the-ordinary circumstances and to understand that energy companies are not going to be able to get to customers as quickly as they would normally. They have both the significant increase in call outs, but also it is as difficult for their repair people to get to you as anyone else driving. With all the accidents and deaths caused in this weather I do think we need to be aware of that. None of us would want someone to risk their life to fix our boiler, I’m sure.

However, companies should be doing all they can. They should have more staff in place during the Winter months and have emergency plans in place to deal with increased enquiries at times like this. You do still have rights and can claim for lack of gas or electricity supply and lack of service.

Your rights with weather-related energy problems on electricity pylon

Vulnerable Customers
Energy customers who are vulnerable (and usually you need to be on the company’s list as such) will take priority for any loss of supply or repair.

If you are struggling to get in contact with your provider, keep a note of all times you called, tried the website etc., as evidence to use in a complaint at a later date.

Cut in supply
In the case of a cut in your gas or electricity supply, it is your distributor, not the supplier, who is responsible. You can find out who your gas transporter is here and electricity supplier here. Complain to them if necessary.

In the event of an unplanned power cut you are entitled to set amounts of compensation. For electricity this varies depending upon the number of homes affected, how long you are without supply and how Ofgem categorises the storm.

In an unplanned power cut you are entitled to set amounts of compensation. For electricity this varies for the amount of homes affected, how long you are without supply and  how Ofgem categories the storm.

From the Ofgem website:
Service Guaranteed Standards payment
Supply restoration: severe weather
The time you are off supply before being able to claim varies according to severity of storm. This is because
the companies will have more work to do to fix faults.

Storm category 1: After 24 hours
Storm category 2: After 48 hours
£70 for domestic and non-domestic customers.

A further £70 will be paid for each additional period of 12 hours in which supply is not restored, up to a cap
of £700 in total.

This applies to both storm category 1 and storm category 2

More on  power cuts (e.g. multiple cuts) can be found on Ofgem Know Your Rights Power Cuts page.

For gas you will be paid £30 plus £30 for each 24-hour period without gas. See 1 little Known Fact You Need to Know When Your Gas is Cut Off!

If you are on the Priority Services Register or a cut was due to bad weather you SHOULD get the payment automatically. Keep an eye out though and claim if you don’t receive it.

You should be paid with 10 days of the end of the power supply cut if automatic and within 10 days from any claim. If not, make sure you get the extra £30 entitlement for that breach of the Standards.

Also useful to know… if you have more than 4 power cuts in one year you are entitled to £75. (The year runs from  01 April to 31 March).

Services
Energy companies are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and so you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care.

Cold weather payment
This is different to the Winter fuel payment. If you receive certain benefits and the temperature was forecast to be or is zero degree celsius or below for seven consecutive days you will receive £25 for each 7 day period between 1 November and 31 March. You can check if you are eligible and whether you will receive the payment (you do not need to claim it will be automatic) on the Government Cold Weather Payments page. Details for how to claim if not received are also on the site.

Boiler and heater breakdowns and cover
You will need to check your policy. But in general if the company has been unable to undertake the repair you should be able to employ another tradesperson to do the work. British Gas for example has said that “some Homecare polices will cover reimbursement for work we are not able to do which is then done by a third party, if the work is covered by the policy. Customers should check their policy if they wish to claim for a reimbursement. They will need a VAT invoice from their tradesman in order to claim.”  When SE leaves your elderly aunt without adequate heating for 11 days…  tells the story of what I did to claim when they did that to my aunt!

Other help
See Ofgem Standards of Conduct and Quality Standards for what you should be able to expect from your supplier. If it fails to meet the level of service required it must make a compensation payment. However, note that they do not need to do this if severe weather makes it impossible to restore the supply. See above for this.

See All you need to know to make a complaint about energy for more information including how to complain when a provider leaves a vulnerable customer without supply, about bills and how best to prepare a case for the Energy Ombudsman. See Top 20 Tips How to Complain! should you need to start getting your case together!

Left out in the cold by a rail company? Your rights if you have been affected by train delays or cancellations.

Your rights if your water supply has been interrupted

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

 

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