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Make sure your holiday in the sun doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket

Blue Monday is over and people are thinking about holidays, but with the multitude of ways in ways in which people can book we need to be much more careful of how we book with whom and be aware of consumer rights.

Make sure your holiday in the sun doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket

With the weather so cold and adverts for holidays upon us, our thoughts turn to booking holidays in warmer places in the busiest time for travel agents. But as they all compete and more choice is available on how to book, including through sites not based in the EU, what do we need to look out for?

 

Booking through companies not based in UK

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, blogger and author of How to Complain: The Essential Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! has come across many people who have fallen foul of travel agents or companies making themselves looking like one which are not based in the UK. For example,  Susan booked accommodation with Booking.com at the cost of £357.50. The company cancelled less than 24 hours before the trip because the hotel was ‘overbooked’. Susan only discovered that the alternative accommodation didn’t exist when she arrived in London. She had to pay a further £900 to stay in inconvenient accommodation, resulting in numerous taxi and bus fares.  The company told Susan to email them and attach invoices and receipts, but she did not get a response, refund or even an apology. She was also £982.50 out of pocket. She eventually got her money back including out of pocket costs and a goodwill gesture of £250 by quoting relevant laws.

The best way to complain discussed on Rip Off Britain Live

Robert’s mother had been charged a £30 fee after the booking process on a website that searches for flights then charges an administration fee on top, which she was not told about. The company’s hidden terms and conditions said that a charge could be made but did not provide the amount! Writing to the CEO and quoting relevant EU laws meant he got his money back.

So what are your rights?

Man standing on rock looking out to water your rights when booking a holidays or flights

Your rights booking through a UK or EU-based website

  • ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licence) is a government-run financial protection scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). All monies you pay for package holidays involving flights and holidays including a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, must be protected under an ATOL licence
  • ABTA(Association of British Travel Agents) follow a code of conduct, so if they break that you can report them to ABTA.
  • EU Directive 2005/29/EC (for the UK Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008) when a shopper makes a purchasing decision s/he would have made had s/he been given accurate information or not put under unfair pressure to do so.
  • Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, you have a right to be refunded if you make a claim within 6 years (5 in Scotland) for purchases over £100 and less than £30,000. You are covered if you pay as little as 1p but the item costs more than £100. But remember you may be charged a percentage of the cost for a transaction fee, but you can try to pay a small amount on the card and the whole cost will be covered.
  • Purchases bought on debit cards may be covered by this voluntary scheme, the rules set by card issuers such as Mastercard and Visa, check if your bank is covered.

Your rights for holidays booked through UK tour operators

  • Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 .The organiser (tour operator) is liable for the failures of hoteliers, suppliers and services within the contract. If the holiday is cancelled, the consumer is entitled to a substitute package of equivalent or superior quality (if the other party to the contract is able to offer such a substitute) or to take a substitute package of lower quality and recover the difference in the price or to have a full refund.
  • From 01 July 2018 the new Package Travel Directive comes into force. This widens the meaning of the word “package” so that more companies will have to abide by the regulations. So anyone that puts together a package for a customer will be responsible for all the elements. Think Expedia etc. the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 
  • The organiser must not provide mis-leading information and provide details about changes as soon as possible. The consumer is entitled to redress for a variety of things dependent on what regulation has been broken and when.

Your rights for holidays taken in the UK

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 entitles you to services that are carried out with reasonable skill and care and with information given verbally or in writing to the consumer, which is binding where the consumer relies on it.

Dewdney says you should be careful when you book but that you can nearly always get redress, so long as you know your legal rights. “Armed with your rights you can feel more confident that you won’t lose money either in the booking process or if anything goes wrong once on holiday.”

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

Booking a holiday in COVID times

Further considerations are needed currently. The situation is ever changing and MSE keeps the advice up to date here at this link.

Further help with complaining about your holiday

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"

 

Should you have a problem with your holidays see: All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights

 

 

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logoFor more tips, information, advice, your consumer rights and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

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Purchase and download Holiday, flight and event complaint templates to quickly and easily get that refund

 

 

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Does Sports Direct treat customers as badly as staff?

sdWhat do you think of Sport’s Direct reputation? Sports Direct shares continue to tumble largely due to The Guardian’s investigation into the treatment of staff by the retailer. It uncovered that the company effectively paid thousands of temporary workers below the national minimum wage of £6.70 an hour and subjects warehouse staff to a regime of searches and surveillance.

It doesn’t treat its customers any better. Its returns policy on their website is very poor and misleading. It says that you have to “pay for postage but this does not affect your statutory rights”, and of course we know most people don’t know what their statutory rights are and even fewer use them! If you click on the “Faulty goods” link they also suggest that you pay for postage and registered post at that. They say they will refund or exchange. However under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the item does not match the description, is not of satisfactory quality or does not last a reasonable length of time then it is in breach of these regulations. Therefore one does not have to pay return postage or this should be refunded. Sports Direct does not make the customer rights clear, it sounds like they might give you an exchange even if you want a refund. Many people would not know that they could insist on a refund.

When buying online you have 14 days from the date that you received the item in which you can change your mind. This is under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. If there is no CRA breach then you would have to pay return postage.

Returns policies should be transparent. I do not believe that Sports Direct policy is do you? It is misleading for anyone that that does not know their legal consumer rights. When customers find out that actually they shouldn’t have paid the postage or that they could have insisted on a refund then they feel cheated and are unlikely to shop in the store again. It reflects badly on the business. So this kind of policy is counterproductive. Perhaps the CEO believes that so few people know about their legal rights that the company can make more money. However, times are a changing and people are seeking out information to be better informed about the legal rights. Clear policies which fully explain the customers’ legal rights ensure that consumers can shop with confidence and are more likely to be return visitors. Any company which treats staff that badly is going to have management problems elsewhere. And now it’s beginning to show. Good.

When I asked about Sports Direct and what people thought about their returns policy on Facebook some people (who clearly didn’t know their legal rights) actually thought that they only did exchanges. An example of a breach of the law came from Naomi who said that she had bought a rucksack. Within 1 week and no major weight in it, the strap ripped away from the bag. She was offered an exchange for a like for like bag or a credit note on a gift card to the value of the bag. She was of course entitled to a refund, even under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 as the purchase was made before 1st October.

People who have taken things back to stores as faulty still have problems getting any redress at all. Frequently told that the store will send the item back for testing giving ridiculous reasons for not providing a refund or replacement, such as you shouldn’t put trainers in a washing machine. Unless the care instructions specifically say that you cannot put the footwear in a washing machine then there is enough evidence out there to say that you can! Independent reports you can take to court! Do not be fobbed off by companies that behave in this way! See the book for help with not being fobbed off, advice, tips and guidance on how to complain effectively.

If you have had trouble with Sports Direct specifically why not email the CEO? (The UK’s 22nd richest man you know), I think we can all guess now as to how he made his money and it appears it wasn’t by treating his staff and customers with respect!

Sports Direct CEO email address.

Sports Direct Customer Service email cs@sportsdirect.com

Your return rights

  • If you change your mind then a retailer does not have to refund or replace the item, although many bigger stores do
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to a refund (up to 30 days from purchase) for any item that is not as described, not of satisfactory quality , not fit for purpose or hasn’t lasted a reasonable length of time.
  • After this 30 days you will be entitled to a refund, replacement or repair but the retailer can insist on not giving a refund.
  • If the item you have bought online is in breach of the CRA though you are still covered by the 30 day rule and indeed up to 6 years for online and in store purchases.
  • If breach of CRA you do not pay postage
  • If no breach of CRA it will be down to the retailer’s terms and conditions
  • Sale items are bound by the same laws as mentioned above. The only thing that would be different is if a fault was pointed out at point of purchase and therefore reason for reduction.
  • For the first 6 months the onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault was not there at point of purchase and after 6 months the onus is on the customer.

See Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries for more information and Tips for How to Complain to get that complaint right!

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

Also, for more guidance, information, advice, consumer rights and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!