Government and regulators continue to fail on resolving consumer disputes

Update August 2018 Landing in court with RyanairSummer of 2018 sees Ryanair, CAA and AviationADR in a flying shame of failures.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system for resolving consumer complaints is broken and in danger of collapse. This is one of the conclusions of a damning new report released today. The report reveals that Government bodies have not heeded the warnings of an earlier report Ombudsman Omnishambles and that regulators have been complicit in making the situation even worse.

Ombudsman Omnishambles The UK ADR landscape 20 months on...The report, “More Ombudsman Omnishambles – 20 months on“, written by consumer campaigners Helen Dewdney and Marcus Williamson, follows on from their June 2016 report that exposed serious failings in the UK ADR system.

The original report highlighted the failings of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Ombudsman Association (OA) in their approvals and oversight of organisations providing alternative dispute resolution for consumers and business.

In February 2018 the Government announced that it was seeking to reduce the number of ADR providers in property to one because of consumer confusion. Despite this, the CTSI continues to approve providers in all sectors, significantly complicating the situation for consumers. For example, South Yorkshire Trading Standards and Kent County Council have already been approved for ADR in retail sectors which are already well covered. In addition, the CTSI is failing to deal with one particular provider which was previously known as The Retail Ombudsman (Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited) and which continues to provide ADR services in a variety of sectors. (RetailADR, AviationADR, UtilitiesADR, CommsADR)

The report demonstrates how the CTSI and the CAA are not verifying information given by providers in their annual reports and in the media. In order for an ADR provider to be an Ombudsman, it must meet certain standards and be a member of the Ombudsman Association. The report highlights that the Ombudsman Association has higher standards for approving an ADR provider (see minutes in report). These include not accepting organisations which have poor governance and corporate control and which provide misleading information.

The authors of both reports, Marcus Williamson and Helen Dewdney, are appalled at what they have discovered during this research. Dewdney says “Consumers are confused by the whole ADR sector. Public money – and consumers’ time – is being wasted because of inadequate monitoring and the approval of organisations which shouldn’t be providing services to the public or which simply aren’t necessary.”

The new report makes a total of 13 recommendations. These include:

· ADR providers should all work towards the higher “Ombudsman” status.
· There should be no new entrants to an ADR sector which already has a
well-established and properly functioning scheme.
· Approval bodies should have access to case management systems to check figures
as part of annual reviews.
· Reviews and reports by ADR providers should all be verified by a chartered
statistician.
· There should be a central portal which signposts consumers to the correct ADR
scheme, funded by the schemes, to reduce confusion for consumers.More Ombudsman Omnishambles crowds of people

About the authors
Helen Dewdney is “The Complaining Cow”, a consumer campaigner, author and broadcaster who blogs here http://www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk She is the author of the consumer advice book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! 

Marcus Williamson is a journalist and campaigner with a background in the Information Technology sector. In 2010 he established the website http://CEOemail.com which now helps more than 10,000 people every day to resolve consumer issues by escalating them to the individuals who can make a difference, the CEOs and MDs of companies and other organisations.

Monarch – all you need to know (situation, rights and refunds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has happened?
On the 2nd October 2017 Monarch Airlines and Monarch Holidays went into administration including those companies trading as:

  • Monarch Airlines Ltd
  • Monarch Holidays Ltd (ATOL Number 2275)
  • First Aviation Ltd (ATOL Number 4888) previously trading as Monarch Airlines
  • Avro Ltd (ATOL Number 1939)
  • Somewhere2stay Ltd

Customers were informed at 4.00am on the 2nd October. The administrators, KPMG said it had to wait until all of the airline’s planes had landed before issuing the statement, as it does not itself have a licence to operate planes and therefore could not take control of the company until aircraft had landed.

How did this happen?
In the year to October 2016, Monarch made a loss of £291m compared with a profit of £27m for the previous 12 months. It carried 5.7 million passengers in 2015 a 19% drop from 2014.

On the 24th October 2014, Monarch Holdings was acquired from the Globus Travel Group by private investment company and turnaround specialist Greybull Capital for a nominal sum just hours before Monarch’s licence with the Civil Aviation Authority expired.

Security threats and terrorism in Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey has contributed to the downfall of the airline, there aren’t enough bums for seats in the highly competitive short haul market.

On the 25th September 2016, there were numerous online rumours about Monarch Airline’s imminent bankruptcy. And in the days that followed, Monarch obtained additional funds from shareholders, and on 30th September 2016 its Civil Aviation Authority ATOL licence was temporarily extended until 12th October 2016. Monarch Airlines retained it after Greybull Capital provided £165m in investment funding.

However, it wasn’t enough to save the airline. On the 30th September 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) extended Monarch’s licence for 24 hours due to financial issue but on the 2nd October 2017 at 4.00am the airline went into administration.

What now?
The airline’s website is now managed by the CAA, and corporate and staff affairs directed by KPMG.

What about passengers?
110,000 Monarch passengers were/are stranded overseas and 300,000 future bookings have been cancelled. Although the CAA is keen to point out that passengers are not stranded as they have plans to bring everyone home.

What to do if affected
From The CAA website:

“Flights booked directly with Monarch Airlines from 15 December 2016 onward
Customers with these bookings are not ATOL protected and are not entitled to make a claim to the CAA. You are advised to contact your card issuer, insurer or PayPal for advice on how to claim a refund.

Flights booked on or before 14 December 2016 directly with First Aviation Ltd trading as Monarch Airlines
If your flight was booked with Monarch Airlines on or before 14 December 2016 and you received an ATOL Certificate stating that your flight is protected with First Aviation, you are ATOL protected. We are making arrangements for refunds to be made as soon as possible to these UK customers.

We will be providing more information on how you should claim shortly. You will be able to submit a claim when we make the Monarch claim form available. Please do not submit a claim until advised to do so.

Bookings made directly with Monarch Airlines from 15 December 2016 onward are not protected by ATOL. For further information please read how do I know if I am ATOL protected.

Holidays booked directly with Monarch Holidays
Customers booked directly with Monarch Holidays are ATOL protected and will have received an ATOL Certificate when they made their booking. We are making arrangements for refunds to be made on these bookings as soon as possible, and we aim to complete this by the end of 2017 at the latest. We will be providing more information on how you should claim shortly. You will be able to submit a claim when we make the Monarch claim form available. Please do not submit a claim until you are advised to do so.

Monarch flights and Monarch Holidays booked through another travel company or travel agent
If you booked a flight or holiday with another travel company or travel agent you should contact them directly about your arrangements.

Stranded overseas?
The UK Government has requested that the CAA charter more than 30 aircraft to bring UK passengers home at no cost. It is expected that holiday makers will not have to cut short their holiday.

Yet to go, what are your rights?
Don’t go to the airport as there is no point.

  1. Tour operators must use an ATOL License for package holidays abroad. So your package should be covered by ATOL so you will be able to claim a refund
  2. If you have booked a hotel (worth up to £200) or car hire (worth up to £300) with the flight you should be able to get a refund under ATOL . This is known as a Flights Plus booking, protected by ATOL when booked through a tour operator. Flight-Plus is part of the ATOL Regulations 2012
  3. If you did not receive an ATOl certificate and you are not covered by ATOl (see above) then you are not entitled to any refund. However, if the flight cost was more than £100 you may be able to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If you purchased the tickets on a debit card or they cost less than £100 you may still be able to claim from the bank under their voluntary Chargeback scheme.
  4. You may be able to claim on your travel insurance but it would need to be a high level cover policy.

Reports of hotels making holidaymakers pay again
The CAA says “There are a few cases affecting passengers on Monarch package holidays who are ATOL protected. Some hoteliers wrongly think that they will not get their money for the Monarch booking and therefore ask the customer for payment. When this happens the CAA steps in to reassure the hotel that payment will be made. We have done this with two hotels in Lanzarote today and the situations have been resolved.”

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for links to posts regarding various issues you may have with flights and holidays. Your rights, guidelines, laws and information on how to complain effectively.

Comments
Think I may turn these off given that so many people can’t even say “please” or “thank you” when asking for help!