Have you ever ordered a takeaway that has taken significantly longer than advertised to deliver?
Your consumer rights when your food delivery goes wrong
You are totally within your rights to reject the order when it arrives if it is not as you ordered. You have a right to a discount on the order if they decide to keep it.
In fact, if the delivery was so late that you had to order another takeaway at additional cost to the original order, you could argue that in law you are entitled to the difference too. One must be reasonable, so the delay would need to be unreasonable and within the delivery company’s control.
Any food delivery company not delivering when promised would be in breach of a number of laws. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) services should be carried out with information given verbally or in writing to the consumer which is binding where the consumer relies on it. Any service must be carried out within the agreed time. Secondly, The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014) (CPUTRs) prohibit trading practices that are unfair to consumers and there are bans on Misleading Practices.
How to complain about your fast food delivery
You may already have paid for the delivery before it arrives and then find it difficult to get the refund/discount. Take a picture of the delivery with the time and making copies of any evidence showing the delivery time. (Always make a note of the time you placed the order). Then write to the manager of the company with who you paid the money whether this is the actual delivery company or not, your contract is always with whom you paid your money.
Give details of date, time of order and time of delivery with any evidence. State that the company is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and The CPUTRs (using the information above). State that should you not be fully satisfied with the response then you will take the matter further which will include but not be limited to informing Trading Standards and detailing your experience on relevant review sites. You could even threaten the Small Claims Court but few people would carry this threat through! Quoting your legal rights in this way usually gets the redress you are owed!
Paying through an app? Your contract is always with whom you paid. So just like companies that try and fob you off and tell you to contact the courier when you’ve ordered something online… don’t be fobbed off re food delivery. Let the company you paid get its money back from the fast food place!
The same applies for other issues, such as wrong or missing items.
Taking the complaint further
If you are still unhappy you can always write to the CEO, contact details for CEOs can be found at www.ceoemail.com. The CEO won’t necessarily respond personally but the matter will be escalated and taken more seriously. If more people started to complain and assert their legal rights then service would have to improve or companies would go under from providing refunds and discounts. As for companies who repeatedly breach the CPUTRs a breach is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine and two years’ imprisonment!
Chief Ombudsman helps you get best result from the process
How to get the best result from an ombudsman
I often hear from people how they think an ombudsman hasn’t been fair or impartial in their case. Most frequently I hear the criticism that the ombudsman always sees in favour of the trader because the trader pays for membership. This is not correct. Nor is it correct that an Ombudsman is a consumer champion. An Ombudsman is impartial. See more at 5 myths about Ombudsman providers busted
I’ve asked Lewis Shand Smith the Chief Ombudsman at Ombudsman Services to share the traps people fall into and how to make a stronger case when submitting their issue. He looks at energy in particular but the points are valid for all sectors.
Common ways consumers go wrong in bringing a case to an Ombudsman
Sometimes, people approach the ombudsman with issues outside of their remit. Typically:
The complaint has been made too late – complainants have 12 months from the date the supplier issues its final response (known as a deadlock letter) to raise the issue with the ombudsman.
The complaint has been made prematurely (less than 8 weeks from the initial complaint or no deadlock letter received) – complainants need to raise the issue with the supplier and give them an opportunity to put things right before the ombudsman can become involved.
The trader does not participate in the ombudsman’s scheme.
The complaint is about a product or service which does not fall inside the ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
So, you have your issue, it falls within the remit and you still don’t get the decision you wanted so what do you do?
Submitting cases to an Ombudsman service
Ombudsman Services receives complaints in a variety of forms. There are complaints the energy supplier would have resolved if the right person had picked it up. There are complaints where the parties agree on the facts – but disagree on an appropriate remedy. There are complaints where the parties fundamentally disagree on the facts. And there are complaints where neither party has yet been able to understand what happened.
In the period November 2016 to October 2017, Ombudsman Services closed 49,117 energy complaints. Of those, it helped resolve 8% without investigating because the energy company was willing to provide the consumer with their desired resolution.
Of the complaints that Ombudsman Services investigated, it:
upheld 66% (finding that the energy supplier had done something wrong and had not done enough to put it right).
maintained 26% (finding that although the energy supplier had done something wrong, it had already offered a fair resolution to the customer).
did not uphold 8% of complaints, (concluding that there was no substance to the original complaint and the energy supplier had treated the customer fairly).
These figures suggest that the majority of complaints needed Ombudsman Services intervention to ensure a fair remedy for the consumer. But many could have been resolved without Ombudsman Services’ help. In most cases, the complaints reached Ombudsman Services because of a failure in the energy supplier’s complaint handling. But some could have benefited from better complaining from the consumer – or the consumer accepting a resolution that was already fair.
Reasons for not getting desired outcome
So, below are some common reasons why consumer actions mean a complaint is not resolved with the energy company – along with some advice on how not to fall into the traps.
Focusing on the problem, not the solution
It is very easy to focus on what went wrong and how it should never have happened. But a complaint normally only ends successfully when the wronged party focusses on what needs to be done to put things right. So, before you complain, think about what you would like your supplier to do to resolve your complaint – and let the supplier know.
Disbelieving accurate responses
When things go wrong, people lose trust. So people often lack confidence in energy company’s answers. It can be worth seeking advice online or from friends and family. This can sometimes provide the reassurance consumers desire without the need for an ombudsman investigation.
Unreasonable expectations / asking for bills or balances to be wiped
Energy suppliers do offer financial awards – but they are normally goodwill gestures to acknowledge what went wrong. Energy suppliers rarely relate awards to the size of a consumer’s outstanding balance.
Ombudsman Services applies similar principles in our complaint handling. Customers should pay the correct amount for the energy they have consumed. If something has gone wrong and a financial award is due – the amount will be proportionate to the trouble the consumer experienced – not the outstanding account balance.
Failing to engage with an energy supplier
Poor energy supplier responses can leave consumers feeling that the problem won’t be resolved without help. But Ombudsman Services can only help after a consumer has tried to resolve the problem with the energy supplier direct for several weeks. As frustrating as it is, consumers should plug away with the energy company. Be clear about what the problem is and what needs to be done to put it right. Do it in writing otherwise it is one word against another and the Ombudsman makes decisions on evidence.
Check out 20 Top Tips for complaining effectively to increase your chances before needing the Ombudsman. Hopefully someone at the energy company will understand the complaint and correct the problem. This will mean a far quicker resolution than if you go to the Ombudsman.
Becoming too invested in the complaint
If a consumer feels they’ve been wronged, they’re likely to tell people about it. Sometimes it turns out that the consumer is at fault, and in such circumstances, it can be difficult for consumers to admit their error to other people on the complaint journey. They can reach for excuses and/or change the substance of their complaint so as not to lose face. This rarely leads to success and escalating to Ombudsman Services can sometimes prolong and increase the disappointment. If a consumer realises that they are wrong, there is sometimes value in not continuing the complaint.
If consumers feel wronged they should always complain; but they should do so in a focused way and seek a proportionate outcome.
Presentation at the Westminster Business Forum seminar Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper. 15/11/18 Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest possible sense of the words…
Lewis Shand Smith Biography
Lewis Shand Smith was appointed Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman of Ombudsman Services in 2009. Ombudsman Services is a not for profit organisation which resolves disputes in the energy, communications, property, and copyright licensing sectors, amongst others. Lewis was also the Chair of the Ombudsman Association. Previously he was the Crown appointed Deputy Ombudsman and a member of the Executive Board at the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). He is a priest in the Scottish Episcopal church and has served several congregations in Motherwell, Shetland and Dumfries. He was a Canon of St Andrew’s cathedral in Aberdeen. From 1990 to 1999 Lewis was a member of Shetland Islands Council, becoming Convener/Leader in 1994. He has served as a non-executive director or trustee with a number of companies and charities. He is a former Vice President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, was a member of the Executive of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, and represented the UK on the European Committee of the Regions.