International Day of Older Persons: Treat older customers properly & fairly, says consumer campaigner The Complaining Cow

The 1st October 2016 is the International Day of Older Persons. Older persons can be vulnerable to a number of things including elder abuse, ageism, and exploitation. We hear often of the stories of carers abusing older people and employers not treating older people equally. But frequently older persons are more vulnerable to being fobbed off by big companies when it comes to consumer rights such as being mis-sold or not gaining redress when they are entitled.

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Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow consumer rights blogger and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! says that she hears many stories about big companies not ensuring older people their consumer rights and/or providing really poor service. She cites the example of her own 81-year-old aunt, who last Winter was left 11 days without heating (one engineer even told her “Well at least you save on the bills”). Once Dewdney was told and got involved the matter was resolved within the day and her aunt received redress. However, others who don’t know how to complain are at risk of being exploited, not receiving the service to which they are entitled or not receiving the full refund.

Dewdney provides 5 of the top consumer rights that people can use to help their older friends and relatives this Winter:

  • Ofgem has Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards in place. They require suppliers and any organisations that represent them, such as brokers or third party intermediaries, to ensure that each domestic customer is treated fairly. When there is poor service and/or a delay look these up and quote from them!
  • Follow the company’s complaints process and if necessary contact the CEO (See ceoemail.com for contact details of all CEOs) if the matter is serious and/or you can’t get a satisfactory response. Outline clearly the issues and what you will do if you do not receive an acceptable reply, such as using the relevant Ombudsman.
  • The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that all goods must be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose, last a reasonable length of time and match the description. Consumers are entitled to a full refund within 30 days of purchase and a repair or replacement after this time. Services must be carried out with reasonable skill and care. The company must put the customer back into the financial position in which they were in before the problems arose.
  • Look at switching energy every year. Use the various switch websites and cashback sites to check if you are on the cheapest tariff.

Dewdney says that energy, telecoms and other sectors have to abide by various codes of conduct. These, and all traders and service providers, have to abide by consumer law. However, many companies make it very difficult for people to complain, whether it be due to company ethos, processes or poor training. “The more we can do to help vulnerable people to assert their legal rights and not be taken advantage of the better.” she declares.

All you need to know to make a complaint about energy will give you more information, advice and stories regarding energy and complaining.

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! Advice, guidance, information, stories, templates and your rights!

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