The complaining habits of public figures – Paul Lewis financial journalist

A series of interviews by The Complaining Cow

In my series of interviews with people in the consumer world regarding their complaining habits, today is the turn of finance journalist Paul Lewis. Are your habits similar?

Paul LewisPaul Lewis’ complaining habits

1)  Generally, do you complain to a company regarding a faulty item?
Yes if I think it will result in anything useful.

2)   How much does the likely redress have to be before you will
complain and why?

It’s more a case of how cross I am about it and the chances of success.

3)  How well do you know your legal rights (Consumer Rights Act, different sectors regulations etc.)
Fairly well

4) If you receive service over and above good do you give feedback?
How

Seldom

5) If you receive poor service how many people do you tell (include
your social media followers too!)

If it’s very bad I tweet about it so 113,000! Otherwise just family

6) If you receive good services how many people do you tell?
Family otherwise it looks like advertising!

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?

The bang has to be worth the buck..

8)  What do you think of using social media to complain?
It is a good idea., it gets the complaint to a wide audience and may result in change.

9) Is customer service/being able to gain redress a factor when
deciding where to purchase an item

In the sense that I prefer to buy from UK or use a credit card, yes.

10) Do you ever contact a CEO of a company? If so at what point in the complaint process?
I never have but I recommend it as a technique if a complaint is being blocked.

11)  If you have ever used an ADR scheme (ombudsman/mediation/arbitrator)
or gone to Small Claims Court tell us about it
No I haven’t.

About Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis has been a freelance financial journalist since 1986.

He has presented Money Box on Radio 4 since 2000 and appears on many radio and television programmes. He writes for Saga Magazine, Radio Times, Financial Times, and Money Marketing.

He has won many awards since 1986. Most recently he has won many awards. Headline Money Financial Broadcaster of the Year 2017 and voted Consumer Champion 2017 by the Chartered Insurance Institute. In 2018 he was the Kames Capital broadcast journalist of the year.

He has an honorary doctorate from University of Essex for his journalism over many years defending the interests of consumers.

He is an authority on the Victorian writer Wilkie Collins and edits his letters.

Online: www.paullewis.co.uk, blog www.paullewismoney.blogspot.com and has more than 113,000 Twitter followers @paullewismoney

Help with your complaints

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

 

If you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! See Paul Lewis’ review of the book too!

 

 

Paul Lewis blue background

A Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015

Consumer Rights Act 2015 legal crest

 

 

 

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

This Act came into force from 1st October 2015, when the following Acts were  repealed/amended:

Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973 will cover business to business contracts and consumer to consumer contracts only.
Sale of Goods Act 1979/ Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 will still apply to business to business contracts and to consumer to consumer contracts.
Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 will cover business to business contracts and consumer to consumer contracts only.
Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 will be replaced
Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 will cover business to business and consumer to consumer contracts only.
Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 will be replaced.

For goods and services purchased before October 1st 2015 see this post.

For more details on how the Consumer Rights Act 2015 covers digital goods, see this post. For more on using this law see this Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively.

The sale and supply of goods

The person transferring or selling the goods must have the right to do so and the goods must be of a satisfactory quality. Goods must be of a standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory. Quality is a general term, which covers a number of matters including:

  • fitness for all the purposes for which goods of that kind are usually supplied – appearance and finish
  • freedom from minor defects
  • safety
  • durability

In assessing quality, all relevant circumstances must be considered by the retailer, including price, description, and their own or the manufacturer’s advertising. Goods must:

  • be fit for a particular purpose. When you indicate that goods are required for a particular purpose, or where it is obvious that goods are intended for a particular purpose and a trader supplies them to meet that requirement, the goods should be fit for that specified purpose.
  • match the description, sample or model. When you rely on a description, sample or display model the goods supplied must conform
  • be installed correctly, where installation has been agreed as part of the contract.

The consumer can reject the goods within 30 days unless the expected life of the goods is shorter e.g. highly perishable goods. You can also choose repair or replacement in this time and up to 6 months after purchase as it is assumed that the fault was there at the time of delivery unless the trader can prove otherwise or unless this assumption is inconsistent with the circumstances (for example, obvious signs of misuse). If accepting repair you still retain your legal rights.

If more than six months have passed, you have to prove the defect was there at the time of delivery. You must also prove the defect was there at the time of delivery if you exercise the short-term right to reject goods. Some defects do not become apparent until some time after delivery, and in these cases it is enough to prove that there was an underlying or hidden defect at that time.

All these rules also apply for distance selling and digital goods.

The Act defines ‘digital content’ as meaning ‘data which are produced and supplied in digital form’. Therefore a huge array of digital-format products fall within this definition such as:

  • computer games
  • virtual items purchased within computer games
  • television programmes
  • films
  • books
  • computer software
  • mobile phone apps
  • systems software for operating goods – for example, domestic appliances, toys, motor vehicles, etc. In many cases digital content is supplied in a format that can be physically touched such as a Blu-ray disc containing a film. Increasingly, however, digital content does not have a tangible form – for example, a film downloaded to a computer or a virtual car purchased when playing a computer game.

Digital content

Rights are slightly more complicated see What you need to know about the Consumer Rights Act 2015 digital content for more details.

The contract for the supply of services

A contract is an agreement consisting of an offer and acceptance. When a consumer buys services from a trader, both parties enter into a contract which is legally binding. In order for a term to be binding it must clearly be part of the contract and be legal. Terms given to a consumer after the contract is made are not part of the contract and they have no effect. A contract can be verbal but it is advisable to detail important terms in writing so there can be no dispute later on.

All services should be carried out:

  • with reasonable care and skill.
  • information given verbally  or in writing to the consumer is binding where the consumer relies on it.
  • the service must be done for a reasonable price (if no fixed price was set in advance)
  • the service must be carried out within a reasonable time (if no specific time was agreed)

You have up to 6 years in which you can bring a claim against a trader.

Unfair contracts

The law creates a ‘fairness test’ to stop consumers being put at unfair disadvantage. A term is unfair if it tilts the rights and responsibilities between the consumer and the trader too much in favour of the trader. The test is applied by looking at what words are used and how they could be interpreted. It takes into consideration what is being sold, what the other terms of the contract say and all the circumstances at the time the term was agreed. There is an exemption for the essential obligations of contracts – setting the price and describing the main subject matter – provided the wording used is clear and prominent. There is also an exemption for wording that has to be used by law. If you have been misled into making a decision that you would otherwise not have made then the company is in breach of this law.

The Consumer Rights Act contains equivalent rights and protections to the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. This means that, though there may be some technical differences in the way these aspects are implemented, from a consumer’s point of view there would be no difference – under the Consumer Rights Act the consumer may argue that a term is unfair in the same way as they would have under the aforementioned Acts.

When you use this Act please also follow 20 Top Tips for Complaining and why you should write not phone.

 

 

To ensure that you know your rights and how to use them take a look at How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results, as one reviewer says you’ll get more than your money back the first time you use it!

 

 

 

Helen Dewdney talks to Rebecca Pike on Radio 2 Drive time about CRA

Moneybox Live Paul Lewis/Helen Dewdney

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively