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How will the Coronavirus affect my travel to and from China?

Coronavirus and gaining refunds

An outbreak of a new coronavirus is affecting travel to and from China. Here is some advice on how this may impact on your trip and on your travel insurance.

The coronavirus

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all travel to Hubei Province and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao) because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection for which there is no specific cure or vaccine and may have originated in a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals are traded illegally.

If you are currently in China

The FCO has advised against all travel to Hubei Province and advises British people there to leave if they are able to do so. However, British Airways has already suspended flights to and from mainland China. Other airlines are still flying but it is expected that they will follow suit. Those in China should look to make plans swiftly.

Britons flying back to the UK are being put in quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms.

If you are due to fly to China

Because the FCO has warned against travel, you are likely to invalidate your travel insurance if you still fly and so you should check with your insurer. Whether you are covered by your insurer would depend on the cover you have and the reason for travel. If, for example, you are travelling for a holiday then it is unlikely that this would be considered essential and you should be covered.

An insurer will only cover you if you have booked the trip and obtained insurance before the virus was known about. So, if you bought the trip and left buying the insurance until later you won’t get cover because the virus is now known. It is ALWAYS advisable to take out travel insurance at the same time as booking your trip.

If you are able to make changes to your plans you may also be able to transfer your travel insurance to the new destination.

If you’re booked onto a scheduled BA flight between 26 January and 23 February, you should request a refund. The airline is also offering alternative flights which is a possible option for some travellers.

Although many airlines are offering refunds there is no actual legal obligation for them to do so.

Booking China flight and accommodation separately

If you are covered by travel insurance it may also refund your accommodation costs, if they has already been paid. It also may cover you for out of pocket expenses but this will always depend on the cover that you have.

If you don’t have travel insurance you may struggle to get a refund on the accommodation and the outcome will depend on the insurer’s terms and conditions.

Travelling to an area where there are reported cases of coronavirus

At the point of writing (29 January 2020) the FCO has not advised against travelling to any other places affected by the coronavirus. If you take the decision not to travel then travel insurance will not cover a refund of your ticket costs.

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Habits of an effective complainer – a few suggestions!

Habits of an effective complainer

Techniques to improve your complaining skills!

If you are not used to complaining, don’t like complaining, get fobbed off easily, but don’t like being out of pocket there are things you can do to help you improve your technique.

Lots more in the book

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101 Habits of an Effective Complainer

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But in the meantime here are another three tips to start you off!

shapes border how to improve your complaining habits

1)   Use social media appropriately

You can’t give out personal details and you can’t describe detailed events on social media. However you can call out poor service and give more details in direct messages and refer the company to previous correspondence. See 5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should).

When I took Tesco to court (and won!) it was after several emails and tweets. I couldn’t possibly describe all the events in one tweet or even several. But the tweets told Tesco that I would be going to court due to it not honouring a refund, the details of which I had in writing. It responded quickly and took the matter into direct messaging. Some people will say that companies do this to get the bad publicity off the Twitter feed. This isn’t necessarily the case, as they often need further details and direct messaging allows for more characters and providing personal information. I was able to give the information about the order etc. The fact that they weren’t empowered to do anything with it is another matter…!

2)   Make notes

If the poor service happened whilst you are out of home or office tap into your phone or use a notebook! Make notes of how you were left feeling, names of people you dealt with and any relevant activity that will help you later.

Nicola ordered a kitchen and later realised that she needed another shelf. She went to the store to enquire about the possibility and the staff member was very rude. He told her that she should have used his company to measure up and the problem wouldn’t have happened. He said that they couldn’t get another shelf ordered as the kitchen had been discontinued. Nicola doubted this as the kitchen was still being sold online, so she thought it might be quicker if she spoke to the store. She was really annoyed and not a little embarrassed as the manager had been quite aggressive and it looked like he was trying to warn other potential customers that they would face similar problems if they didn’t use them to fit as well as supply. Before leaving the store she wrote down the name of the staff member, what he had said and what she felt.

The next day Nicola composed an email to the manager of the store and was able to be calm, giving the name of the staff member and what he had said. She was able to refer to her notes and use them effectively. The manager wrote back to apologise and offer the shelf at a discount and assure her that the staff member would be sent on some training to clarify some points of customer service.

3)   Set the rules

Give a deadline to the company by which you expect to receive a satisfactory response and what you will do if you don’t receive one.

There are numerous posts on my blog about items which have been sent in error. See Unsolicited goods for all the questions people asked! Many people want to believe that these have been sent in error. This often isn’t the case. The wrong item has been sent, or there has been an administrative error. In these cases they needed to provide the company which sent the item a reasonable deadline by which they should collect the item and after this date they would dispose of the item.

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For lots of help, consumer laws, advice and  templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!




5 top tips for complaining effectively