How not to pay a charge made after transaction (and why!)

Outside of UK but inside EU
When I was on Rip Off Britain Live last year I took on a few cases. One of them was for someone whose mother had been charged a £30 booking fee after the booking process on a website that searches for flights then charges that admin fee on top (and for which she was not told about). She had booked a flight from Edinburgh to Southampton directly with the airline. The company’s hidden terms and conditions said that a charge could be made but did not provide the amount! Doubly unfair and doubly in breach of the law! Should you find yourself in this position of being charged after the booking process has completed and the company is based outside of the UK but within the EU, use this template to get your money back!

You will need to fill in all the xxxs with your information. Delete all instructions in brackets.

Dear xxx

On the date I booked a flight from xxx to xxx for (fill in date(s)) booking reference xxxxxx

The fare showed was £xxx. However, once I booked at this amount I was horrified to find that I had been charged a further £xx booking fee. This was not shown at the time of the booking. I am fully aware that in the terms and conditions it is stated that a booking service fee “may” be charged. However, and I quote the terms and conditions, which state “xxxxxxx.” (fill in anything that you have found relating to the charge that was not made known to you at time of booking i.e. hidden away in terms & conditions)

I was notified of the charge after the booking process. Making the charge after a consumer clicks the booking/payment is not part of the booking process. Company name is therefore in breach of its own terms and conditions. In order for it to be part of the process the charge should be shown.

(If the company states in its terms and conditions that it can make a charge after booking include the following paragraph). “The company name may charge a booking service fee which will be notified to you separately during the booking process.” is not an acceptable term. This could be any amount! It is obviously unfair to the consumer if the company can charge any amount it likes to a consumer without informing them of what it is before they have paid!

Company name is in breach of the EU Consumer Rights Directive 2013 (2011/83/EC). The directive prevents significant imbalances in the rights and obligations of consumers on the one hand and sellers and suppliers on the other hand. Terms that are found unfair under the Directive are not binding for consumers. It is quite clearly an unfair term to state that an unknown fee amount will be applied to the total. It is also clearly unfair to not state what this amount is at point of purchase. Under this Directive the trader must ensure that the customer understands what goods and services are being provided and that there are no hidden costs. Clearly this £xx charge was hidden. Ticking a box agreeing to terms and conditions that are not clear and in any case even if they were, were not detailed at point of purchase, is not acceptable under this Directive.

I therefore expect a full refund and redress for this unacceptable charge and stress that it has caused. I would also be interested in your comments regarding your ongoing breach of European law. Should I not be fully satisfied with your response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further. This will include but not be limited to contacting the UK European Consumer Centre which will pick up this complaint on my behalf with the relevant bodies in country where company is based including reporting your breach of the law and going to court if necessary.

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours faithfully/sincerely

For more details on complaining about holidays and flights outside of the UK but inside the EU see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights.

Inside the UK
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 state that traders must not mislead you by giving false information or leaving out information as to the price of a product or the way the price is calculated. Also, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2014 states that a practice is unfair and therefore in breach of the law if it harms or is likely to harm the economic interests of the average consumer, so if you as a consumer made a decision that you would not have done if you had been given the full information or not been put under pressure.

For loads more on complaining about holidays and flights see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights

 

 

 

For more advice, information and template letters to complain about all things consumer see the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

Terms & Conditions The One Show

Do Morethan just comparison websites for insurance quotes!

How do you take out your contents and building insurance? I hope you don’t just renew every year and that you look at comparison sites for switching insurance, energy etc. I do this but do do a little more. I also check the site that comes out the cheapest.

Comparison v direct
huh_450

Last year MoreThan came out cheaper on the Moneysupermarket comparison site. But this is when it got odd. I went through Moneysupermarket.com and got a reference number and password which did not work when I clicked to go through to the website. The quote included some cover which I did not wish to have. I looked to see if I could ‘phone to discuss the quote and noted that only an 0844 number was provided. It is now illegal to only provide such numbers for customer helplines under the The Consumer Rights Directive 2013 but oddly it was provided at a later date but it wasn’t on the website!Secondly I tried to use Topcashback* (excellent cashbacksite) and get a quote from MoreThan directly. This seemed to come to much MoreThan the Money supermarket.com quote! But it did not include the cover that I didn’t want! It also requested details on specific items which was not included on the Monesysupermarket.com site. The Moneysupermarket.com quote listed certain other items and not others. Basically, the comparisons between the two sites were ridiculous and one could not change them either.

Complaint

So off went the email to the CEO as I felt that something was seriously flawed with their systems. Why can’t you just get the same cover going through the comparison site as going direct? Why does it cost more direct for a different cover and you can’t use the cashback site when going through the comparison site for the cheaper quote. I stated that I wanted the price stated with moneysupermarket.com minus the cover I didn’t want and to include the cover I did. I also expected to receive the £21.00 Topcashback  to which I felt entitled. I got a new quote about £100 more than other quotes in order to get everything I wanted, and a cheque for the difference between the new quote and the cheaper Moneysupermarket.com quote plus the £21 cashback.

I’m not sure that any Laws were broken here, although one wonders about misleading practices and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. I do think it’s poor practice and would advise anyone looking at their insurance to explore all possibilities and to look at the comparison sites and then look at the site directly for further comparison. Make sure you have the cover you want and contact the company if you see anomalies. My guess is that this practice is quite widespread and that we need to make sure that we are not being ripped off as well as ensuring that we have the cover that we want and need.

Further help

Lots more information about comparison websites, approved sites etc All you need to know about comparison websites

How to save money on your car insurance lots of ideas here!

 

For more guidance, advice, tips, information, consumer laws and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

*refer a friend link so if you sign up I’ll get a few pennies for referring you and you should get a few pennies as a welcome gift!