Christmas shopping all wrapped up with Ten Top Tips

Christmas shopping rights you need to know

Christmas shopping can be a stressful time – who to buy for and what to  buy them? Where are the bargains? What to do if the recipient doesn’t like what you have bought? What happens if you change your mind? What can you do if there’s a delay in an order?

Here are my Top 10 tips for ensuring you know and use your rights when shopping for Christmas presents and in the sales!

 

 

Change of mind

 1) When purchasing something as a gift, get a gift receipt. Stores do not have to take anything back and give a refund or exchange just because you changed your mind (or in this case the recipient doesn’t like it) but many do and are more likely to do so with a receipt (or any proof of purchase). Many shops will also need this for an exchange too.

2) Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds when buying something not on the retailer’s premises. There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. Whether or not return postage has to be paid depends on the trader’s terms and conditions.

Delivery

3) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the trader must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest no more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.

4) You are entitled to any out-of-pocket expenses if the company don’t turn up when they say they will, such as recompense for time taken off work. See Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries.

5) Your contract is always with the retailer to whom you gave the money. It is NOT the courier, unless you have paid your money directly to the courier. Always insist on redress from the retailer company, so that IT can get the money back from the courier!

Faulty goods

6) Your purchases are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and you have 30 days from the date of purchase to demand a refund if the item is not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, doesn’t last a reasonable length of time or match the description. After this time the trader can offer a repair or replacement. So you can check the item or give a gift receipt with the present.

7) These rights also apply to digital goods although the 30 day rule does not apply to non tangible digital goods such as downloads.

8) Your rights remain the same in the sales unless a known fault was pointed out at the time of purchase.

Christmas meals out

9) When you have a works or office Christmas meal you also have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Your meal should be of satisfactory quality and of a similar price to a comparable establishment. If you are not happy with it don’t eat it and take photographic evidence should you need to complain later. You can refuse replacement courses and claim a refund. More here.

10) When you have made a booking for a hotel/restaurant for a Christmas “do” you are entitled to that booking! If it isn’t honoured speak to the manager about immediate compensation, such as free drinks, whilst you wait for your table. If this can’t be done and you have to make alternative arrangements, the establishment is liable for any out of pocket expenses you may incur. More

If you need to complain follow these Top Tips.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

And see How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results, for load of advice, information, tips, templates and your consumer rights!

 

 

 

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

Ofgem Standards of Conduct and Quality Standards

Ofgem Standards of Conduct

In August 2013 Ofgem put new Standards of Conduct into 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. They cover three broad areas:

Behaviour:
suppliers must behave and carry out any actions in a fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional manner.

Information:
suppliers must provide information (whether in writing or orally) which is:

  • complete, accurate and not misleading (in terms of the information provided or omitted);
  • communicated in plain and intelligible language;
  • related to products or services that are appropriate to the customer to whom it is directed; and
  • fair both in terms of its content and in terms of how it is presented (with more important information being given appropriate prominence).

Process:
the supplier must:

  • make it easy for the consumer to contact them;
  • act promptly and courteously to put things right when they make a mistake;
  • otherwise ensure that customer service arrangements and processes are complete, thorough, fit for purpose and transparent.

Four “core” tariffs per fuel (electricity and gas) will be the limit that any supplier can offer. This will apply to each payment type. Suppliers will be allowed to offer these tariffs to collective switching schemes. They will also be able to offer extra fixed term tariffs into schemes that meet their criteria.

Standing charge and a single unit rate for all tariffs and suppliers can set the standing charge at zero if they wish

Dual fuel and online account management discounts remain. They will not be considered as “core tariffs” but as a discount. They will be simplified and will apply uniformly across all tariffs as £/pence per year. For example, a supplier would be able to offer a direct debit customer a choice of no more than four electricity and four gas tariffs. The customer could then choose a dual fuel discount and an online account management   discount.

Existing, expensive “dead tariffs” (i.e. tariffs that are no longer marketed) – customers must be transferred onto the cheapest variable rate. A supplier will only be able to keep consumers on dead tariffs if they are cheaper, or as cheap, as the supplier’s lowest standard or evergreen tariff.

Ban from increasing prices on fixed term deals or making other changes to fixed term tariffs (except trackers or structured price increases set out in advance which are fully in line with consumer protection law).

Ban from rolling forward household customers onto fixed term contracts without their consent.

42-49 day window before customers’ end date of their fixed term tariff for them to decide if they want to stay with the supplier or switch.

Requirement to give all customers personalised information on the cheapest tariff offered for them. This information will appear on each bill and on a range of other customer communications.

All information suppliers send to consumers is to be simplified, more engaging and personalised to them.

Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR) – all suppliers’ communications to provide “at a glance” information to help customers compare tariffs. The TCR will be similar to the APR comparison rate used with credit cards. Ofgem is also requiring suppliers to provide personalised estimates which take account of a customer’s usage to enable them to compare tariffs more accurately when switching.

Tariff information label will set out key terms and conditions as well as relevant information to help consumers compare across suppliers.

Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards

The Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards are guaranteed standards of service levels that must be met by each distribution company. The Direction was made by GEMA and took effect in October 2010. These standards have been set to guarantee a level of service that is reasonable to expect companies to deliver in all cases.

If the distribution company fails to meet the level of service required, it must make a payment to the customer subject to certain exemptions which are:

  • severe weather makes it impossible to restore the supply
  • strikes or industrial action
  • you’re out when the energy company visits and you knew they were coming
  • you cancel an appointment.

Payments under the guaranteed standards compensate for the inconvenience caused by loss of supply. They are not designed to compensate customers for subsequent financial loss.

Ofgem monitors and enforces the guaranteed standards relating to quality of supply.

The guaranteed standards cover 12 key service areas, including supply restoration, connections and voltage quality, and for the consumer cover situations when:

  • you report a faulty prepayment meter to your supplier and someone is not sent to repair or replace it within a specified time
  • the supplier doesn’t arrive within agreed time slot for a visit to your  home
  • the supplier doesn’t respond to your written enquiries within a certain time limit gas supply is interrupted because of a fault – you may be entitled to a compensation payment, depending on for how long it is off. It must be restored within a specified time depending on the weather and the number of homes affected.
  • the supplier does not give two days or more written notice when an electricity distributor plans to interrupt your supply (example here)
  • a gas transporter digs up your garden or driveway and any damage caused by the work is not made good within ten days
  • you are on the Priority Services Register and your gas supply is interrupted but you are not given alternative heating and cooking facilities within four hours.

Back billing

Energy suppliers are signed up to Ofgem’s back-billing principle. If the supplier is at fault for not sending you a bill for more than a year, (and this could be for a number of reasons including, not dealing with requests from you about a faulty meter or account and subsequently allowing a large debt to build, failing to process a direct debit or just failing to send you a bill) then you do not have to pay. There are some reasons when this doesn’t apply, such as if you make no attempt to make a payment. Should the company not honour this principle then follow their complaints procedure.

From 01 May 2018 all energy suppliers had to follow Ofgem’s back billing rules. Before then it was only the big six and according to Ofgem did not always follow the principles.

How to complain about your energy supplier

Electricity pylon Everything you need to know to complain about energy problemsAll you need to know to make a complaint about energy wrong bills, poor service, stories, how to take it further etc.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

For more details about complaining to energy companies including advice, tips and templates see How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!