Getting help for Coronavirus cancellation claims and shopping

During the current crisis, most businesses are doing the right thing when it comes to refunding consumers affected by cancellations.

For example, I had tickets booked for a charity comedy night full of A-list comedians and waited for news about the event. I was interested to see if they could reschedule (highly unlikely given all the names involved) and whether they would ask if I would like to make a donation to the charity. In fact, I received an email to say they were looking to reschedule a number of events and, soon after, received an email listing all the dates that were cancelled and those that were rescheduled. Ours was, of course, cancelled. The refunding of the card was already underway, according to the email.

However there are a number of companies still not doing the right thing. For example, those which are trying to give credit notes instead of cash refunds.

Whilst even I would say to allow companies a little extra time to give you that refund (and I would normally NEVER say that!) due to the amount of refunds that they are having to be processed, your consumer rights remain the same in all circumstances whether they are COVID-19 related, or not.

The crisis has hit nearly every sector. There is some support for many businesses, so it is not right for the consumer to bankroll these companies and also be out of pocket.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is closely monitoring businesses through this period. It has the power to open a consumer enforcement if it finds strong and compelling evidence that the law might have been broken. It can call on the company to change their behaviour by committing to formal undertakings or promises. If they refuse, then the case can be taken to court. It won’t take on individual cases but it is worth reporting any offending companies to the CMA.

The CMA is also monitoring price hiking (also known as “gouging”) and will similarly tackle companies that are attempting to profit from the current situation.

Coronavirus and price hikes

Help with getting the refund you are owed from business

Posts which will help with various scenarios:

Your consumer rights during a pandemic

Coronavirus and travel – who’s taking advantage? outlines the law and what the different relevant agencies are saying/doing about travel companies and airlines and refunds.

Travel in the time of Coronavirus – Your rights explained  outlines what your rights are and how to assert them regarding holidays and flights in this country and abroad.

Coronavirus related cancelled and postponed events your rights outlines your rights and how to assert them when events in this country or abroad are cancelled.

Online shopping – know your rights during the pandemic explains your rights and how to assert them when things go wrong with an online shop.

Don’t get tied in knots over wedding cancellation some venues are not fully refunding couples, charging them fees, not providing a like-for-like alternative next year etc. Here’s what to do about it!

Gym Contracts During COVID : Your Consumer Rights a guest post I wrote for Emma at the Money Whisperer.

Coronavirus - how to ensure you gain redress when a venue cancels

Wedding venues and insurance Watchdog The One Show

Your consumer rights when shopping in store during a pandemic

Further help with getting redress

Top 20 Tips How to Complain! Use these tips when you complain to be effective!

Ceoemail.com is a site which gives you the contact details for CEOs. The CEO may not respond personally but it does get the matter escalated and you should get a response from one of the executive team.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

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

 

 

 

Stressed out by the situation?

Stressful time? Alternative therapy

green background how to assert your legal rights Covid-19 related issuesCOVID-19 scams – How to stay safe a guest post by Paul Newton regarding current Covid-19 related scams.

Online shopping – know your rights during the pandemic

With the current pandemic and a nation in lockdown, many of us are turning to online ordering more than ever before. Even as the country tries to start returning to something nearing normal people are hesitant to return to shops.

However, there are still some online businesses not providing people with their legal rights and many people don’t know what their legal rights are or if they still apply during a pandemic. (They do!)

Here are some of the most common questions I am being asked.

1) Can I still buy non-essential items online?
Yes. There are no restrictions on what you can buy online. However, you may find places are prioritising the stocking of essential items, so more items may be out of stock than usual.

2) I ordered an item that I don’t want or need now – What can I do?
Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, consumers have a 14 day cooling-off period for changing their minds. A further 14 days is provided from this date to return the item. There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items and perishable items.

However, if you made a mistake and downloaded the wrong digital item from a website, then this is not covered. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may have rights, but many websites stipulate that by downloading the content you lose that 14 day right as you have already consumed the digital content which would then be exempt from the cover.

3) The trader is expecting me to pay the return postage – Can they do that?
It depends on the reason for return. If you have changed your mind, then unless the trader has explicitly stated free returns on all items then you will have to pay return costs. However, if the item is faulty, not as described or hasn’t lasted a reasonable length of time, then this would be a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) and the trader must pay for the return.

4) Is it safe for me to take a delivery?
The person delivering the item(s) should keep 2 metres away from you when putting the item on the ground. After you have taken the item and opened it dispose of the packaging and wash your hands, as the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

5) The seller has told me that I have to wait longer than usual for a delivery?
The CRA states that goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the trader must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.

However, during the pandemic, there may be delays due to reduced staff numbers and this should be detailed on the company’s website together with the likely number of days delay you can expect for delivery. Also, if items are coming via Royal Mail, do allow a possible delay, as there may be reduced staff in different parts of the country.

If you have paid for a set delivery date or extra for speedier delivery and it wasn’t delivered within this time you are entitled to that charge back.

6) I’ve waited a reasonable length of time but the item has still not arrived – What do I do?
Your contract is with the trader. Do not waste time contacting the courier. Let the trader spend their time finding out what has happened to your delivery. You could be a long time on the phone and you won’t have an evidence trail, so make sure you use email. State in your email that you expect to receive the item by a given date or receive a full refund quoting the CRA, as above.

7) I’ve got a gift card but I can’t use it online
Contact the company by email and ask for the date to be extended, as you are unable to use it. No precedent has yet been set for this but most businesses would extend the date as a goodwill gesture.

8) Can I get a refund on a download?
Digital content must not be supplied by the retailer within the 14 cooling off period unless you have agreed to it. Once the download starts, the cancellation right is lost. If you do not give consent, then you will have to wait until after the 14 days before downloading.

Replacement or repair is, generally, a first stage that must be gone through before any refund is payable. If someone downloads an ebook, for example, and then insists on a refund. The repair or replacement must be within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, unless it is impossible or disproportionately expensive. Failing successful repair or replacement, the consumer could be entitled to a price reduction which can be up to the full price.

If a trader advertised that an ebook would work on a particular device but it was actually incompatible with that device, you would be entitled to a repair or more likely a replacement in the form of a version that is compatible with the device. If that is not possible, you would be entitled to a reduction in the purchase price which could be up to a full refund.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is closely monitoring businesses through this period. It has the power to open a consumer enforcement if it finds strong and compelling evidence that the law might have been broken and can call on the company or companies to change their behaviour by committing to formal undertakings or promises. If they refuse, then the case can be taken to court. It is asking consumers to report price hikes or making misleading claims about their products and services. So if a business is using COVID-19 as an excuse to break consumer law, please notify the CMA!

It won’t take up the individual issue for you but will start building up cases against the company if they see enough reports.

Always remember to assert your legal rights, which you always have, even in a pandemic!

Further help with getting redress for complaints

Top 20 Tips How to Complain! Use these tips when you complain to be effective!

Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries more on your rights

Ceoemail.com is a site which gives you the contact details for CEOs. The CEO may not respond personally but it does get the matter escalated and you should get a response from one of the executive team.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

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

 

 

 

Your rights when shopping online with a non EU website:

Rip Off Britain shopping online