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Build your brand with Trust, Ethics & Sustainability

The 09 October 2020 saw the last day of Customer Service Week which is run by the Institute of Customer Service. That day’s theme was Trust, Ethics & Sustainability: Building brand reputation through your actions. And I wrote this article.

This year has seen a growth in the understanding and importance of these areas for consumers. Covid has put a sharp focus on how businesses behave. Whether it’s airlines not giving refunds or businesses profiteering or on the flip side businesses providing voluntary services in the community, consumers are changing their shopping habits.

When I asked people on my Facebook page about this it was quite clear that the pandemic has certainly made people rethink their shopping habits. Those companies that were seen to be doing the right thing and/or diversify where they could are being recognised and are likely to continue to benefit.

There are many more stories of people changing their shopping habits to move away from companies which are not doing the right thing.

Airlines have come under huge criticism for not providing prompt refunds for flights not taken. The regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has done little to help the situation as airlines continue to flaunt the rules. Amongst those is British Airways.

Following data breaches, IT outages, strikes and now appalling handling of refunds for cancelled flights due to Coronavirus, British Airways has been referred to as a ‘national disgrace’ in the media and is currently fighting for its survival with a policy of profits first, people second and levels of customer service at an all-time low. ‘Trust‘, ’ethics‘ and ’sustainability‘ are words which appear not to feature highly if at all with BA whilst people still fight for their refunds.

trust written in the sand

Refunds has been a huge issue for consumers and although they have generally been more tolerant of companies this year, this was during the lockdown period. Ombudsman Services undertook a survey regarding the effect of Covid-19 on complaints and found that 24% of those surveyed said that they did not complain at all during lockdown, as they were more lenient. 41% said that they had become more tolerant of poor service and 10% said that they were less tolerant. However, this tolerance cannot last and consumers’ patience has started to wear thin when refunds were just not coming when they were due.

Consumers are clearly stating that they will not use companies again that treated them badly. Those companies stubbornly and illegally holding onto refunds will see consumers undertake Section 75 refunds or go to the Small Claims Court and win. In failing to respect their customers they will lose both the money and the goodwill of consumers. And bad news about companies spreads quickly…

Stores often try and sell a warranty that you don’t need too.

Anyone who has ever bought a car will have had the warranty sale experience! Or indeed shopping in Currys! Few people know the difference between a warranty, a guarantee and their consumer rights.

Companies should play the long game instead of seeing customers as one-hit wonders. By doing so, they will inspire loyalty and word of mouth recommendations with customers acting as free ambassadors for the dealerships resulting in increased profits and sales long term.

Many companies in the non regulated area are not members of an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme. Those that are, show that they they are prepared to pay to go the extra to resolve any disputes.

There’s a growing movement for ethical purchasing too. Ethical Consumer is an independent, not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder co-operative which provides tools and resources to make informed ethical choices at the checkout. It has recently highlighted and continues to work on changing fast fashion practices and works in all sectors for example providing templates on informing banks on why you have switched.


So, businesses beware! The number of consumers switching to avoid insurance loyalty penalties is increasing, ethical purchasing is increasing and the tolerance of poor practice is decreasing!

In summary, do the right thing by your customers and watch profits grow. Do wrong to them and they simply won’t come back to you.

More articles on Customer Service Week

Know your customer

Where are your customer service skills? How do you improve them?

How to celebrate and recognise your customer service heroes

Bringing customer service to the Boardroom

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

The Complaining Cow Services

To see how The Complaining Cow can help you improve your customer service see Services.

Complaining about faulty goods Financial issues

What is a warranty, a guarantee and my consumer rights?

The differences with warranties, guarantees and consumer rights

People get muddled between these three things. Rarely do you need a warranty, however, there are situations where you may choose to buy a warranty.

Consumer rights

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that items must be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. You have these rights for six years in England and Wales or five years in Scotland.

Items must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose as described and last a reasonable length of time. So, for example, if you have bought a washing machine and it breaks after two years you should still be able to claim. However a consumer is expected to use the appliance reasonably. For example, a washing machine may be expected to be used a few times a week. It will show if it has been used every day twice a day for two years and this may be considered unreasonable and you would not get a repair or replacement.

For an item such as a washing machine, or a car etc., the retailer can take off money for use. This needs to be a reasonable “amount”.

You should familiarise yourself with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 before paying for any warranty being offered.

It is worth stating I have never paid for or used a warranty. I always assert my legal rights.



When you are offered a paid for warranty, check what is included. It should be more than your consumer rights, as shown above. You may feel that it is worth expenditure buying a warranty if you look at it as a type of insurance (as in the washing machine example). This is different to your consumer rights.

For example, a television should, without doubt, last more than three years. So should you buy one of those paid for warranties for a telly? Don’t bother, the CRA will always be better and using the law is free!

But you will see the likes of Currys staff frequently try and sell you a warranty which is extremely unlikely to give you more than your consumer rights. Often they will try repeatedly to fob you off.

An example from Jo Watson:

story post from LI about standing in Currys demanding replacement laptop

Cars are a complicated one! More advice on a warranty for cars on the Motor Ombudsman site here. And All you need to know about car purchasing, financing and garages

If you want to complain about a warranty see the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and Top 20 tips for complaining effectively If you are still not satisfied you can take the case to the Financial Ombudsman.



If you buy an item that comes with a lifetime guarantee, great. This provides you with more than your consumer rights because if the item breaks after six years you would not be able to go to the Small Claims Court. However, you can go back to the manufacturer and say under the guarantee this hasn’t lasted, I want my refund or replacement, depending on what the guarantee states.

If the guarantee says the company will replace the product within two years if it breaks, ignore it. If the item was expected, reasonably, to last longer than two years then your consumer rights are better than the guarantee and you should take the item back to the retailer, not the manufacturer.

Warranty Guarantee consumer rights what you need to know down one side picture of tv the other side

Resources for complaining effectively

When asserting your legal right use these Top 20 tips for complaining effectively.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


Should you need more help with your legal rights explore the blog and get the book packed full of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!



5 top tips for complaining effectively

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If you don’t want to wait you can Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress to help with most issues.