public figures interview series

The complaining habits of public figures – James Daley MD Fairer Finance

A series of interviews by The Complaining Cow

In my series of interviews with people in the public eye regarding their complaining habits, today is the turn of Managing Director of Fairer Finance James Daley.

headshot James Daley

James Daley’s complaining habits

1) Generally, do you complain to a company regarding a faulty item?
Yes. I’d always ask for a replacement or a refund,

2) How much does the likely redress have to be before you will complain and why?
Very little. Because of the work I do, I almost feel a duty to complain wherever I see bad practice.

 3) How well do you know your legal rights (Consumer Rights Act, different sectors regulations etc.)
Pretty well. I’ve taken a few companies to the small claims court and threatened to so a number of times. I only lost once – and that was because train companies had an exemption from elements of consumer law at that time. But the law’s been changed since, so if I had a rerun, I’m sure I would win.

4) If you receive service over and above good do you give feedback? How?
I might send a tweet. Or fill in a survey if I’m sent one.

5) If you receive poor service how many people do you tell (include your social media followers too!)
Plenty. I often write blogs – or even national newspaper columns – about my personal experiences. Although I try to only do so if I think my experience is indicative of a bigger problem.

6) If you receive good services how many people do you tell?
More likely to just be my friends and family – and perhaps use it as an anecdote to clients and in industry presentations.

7) If you don’t really complain or it has to be a significant amount in question before you will, what stops you from complaining?
I do complain.

8) What do you think of using social media to complain?
I use it if I think a company is likely to be sensitive to it – or I think there’s an important point to be made through my personal experience.

9) Is customer service/being able to gain redress a factor when deciding where to purchase an item
Yes. Speed and convenience are king these days – and those are definitely the most important things when I’m looking to buy something. But I may think twice about buying from an outfit I’ve never heard of, as I know it probably won’t be as easy to get redress if something goes wrong.

10) Do you ever contact a CEO of a company? If so at what point in the complaint process?
If it’s a financial services complaint, I may contact the CEO if I know them – and I think my experience is indicative of a bigger problem. But in most cases, the CEO is not the right person to go to.

11) If you have ever used an ADR scheme (ombudsman/mediation/arbitrator)
or gone to Small Claims Court tell us about it

I’ve taken GWR, Ticketmaster and Airbnb to the small claims court. I wrote columns about all three of those cases. In the case of GWR, I was appealing a fine. I had a valid ticket but had made an honest mistake and only downloaded one portion of my journey from the ticket machine. I could prove the actual ticket hadn’t been downloaded. Unfortunately, at that time, consumer protections for train passengers were not as good. But I decided to fight it anyway, as I thought the train company’s conduct was poor. I wrote a number of pieces about it in the Telegraph, and at the hearing, they admitted they had spent around £1500 on defending the case. It had cost me £25 to take it to the small claims court and £100 for the fine. So I lost the case, but felt like I won the financial and moral victory. Since then, the rules have been changed, and I think I would win in court if we had a re-run.

Ticketmaster put some restrictions on some tickets I bought, which stopped me from selling them in the secondary market. But they provided no mechanism for me to resell them back to them. This was a change in policy and they didn’t make it clear to me in the customer journey. We settled on a no-blame basis.

With Airbnb, I turned up to a place that hadn’t been cleaned, had slept in sheets and was falling apart. I booked somewhere else for my stay. But they wouldn’t get the owner of the original place to provide me a full refund. I used the European Small Claims channel, and we settled on a no blame basis.headshot James Daley MD Fairer Finance talks complaining habits

About James Daley

James Daley has been a consumer campaigner and financial journalist for almost 20 years. Before launching Fairer Finance in 2014, he worked for the consumer group, Which?, where he campaigned for a better deal for customers of banks and insurers in the wake of the financial crisis.

James is frequently interviewed on national television and radio, and has regularly appeared on shows such as Watchdog, Rip-off Britain, Dispatches and Supershoppers.

Before working at Which?, James spent 10 years as a business and finance newspaper journalist, latterly as the The Independent’s personal finance editor and cycling columnist.

He lives with his wife and two children in Tooting, where he is also a local councillor.


Read about the interviewing habits of other public figures in the series of interviews by The Complaining Cow

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