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!

 

 

All You Need to Know About Unsolicited Goods

Second to posts about my History with Tesco this is the most read post. So we glean from that, that many people receive items that they did not request! However, typically these are not unsolicited goods. NONE of the comments from people believing/hoping that they have received unsolicited goods so far, relate to true unsolicited goods other than one regarding items from Estonia!

So I stopped all comments to this post because well over a hundred comments and only one was truly about unsolicited goods and they were goods from abroad! The answers to your queries are in this post, the links and comments, your story will be there.  If you know the sender or can easily find out then it is up to you to take the risk of keeping the goods or notifying them.

Unsolicited Goods
Most people are familiar with the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971. Unsolicited goods are also covered in the newer regulations The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 which say you have a right to keep goods delivered to you that you didn’t request. Specifically, from the legislation:

“Part 4 of the Regulations contains provisions concerning protection from unsolicited sales and additional charges which have not been expressly agreed in advance. Regulation 39 introduces a new provision into the Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which provides that a consumer is not required to pay for the unsolicited supply of products. Regulation 40 provides that a consumer is not required to make payments in addition to those agreed for the trader’s main obligation, unless the consumer gave express consent before conclusion of the contract”.

You are under no legal obligation to contact the trader and can keep the goods. However, true unsolicited goods sent within the UK are rare these days and I have yet to hear of any in the last few years.

Request for payment 
Should you receive a request for payment from a trader for unsolicited goods it has committed a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You can report them to Trading Standards. Bear in mind that if you have chosen to keep an item sent to you in error which the company can prove  e.g. from a screen shot of the wrong code being put into the system then the company has not committed an offence and you will have to pay for the item should you not follow the advice below on “Not unsolicited goods

The days of receiving packages with a demand for payment seem to have gone as this is illegal and no-one in the comments below other than someone who received a package from outside the UK has received unsolicited goods.

Not unsolicited goods
1) If you have been sent items by mistake; such as a duplicate order or additional items, mistaken identity, wrong address, in your name but you didn’t order them, any kind of fraud

2) Replacement order

3) Faulty item

4) Item you have that was faulty and waiting for collection at any point in the replacement process

5) If you have had any contact with any company and you have any order with them and they send you something different/additional

6) Substitute goods should be agreed with the trader and you.

For the examples above, the company is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. See also this post on deliveries. this is NOT unsolicited goods.

7) Thing(s) meant for someone else. Still not unsolicited goods if clearly a mistake and you are able to contact the company which sent the item.

What to do with non unsolicited goods
1) Contact the company and request that they come and collect the goods. Tell them that you are giving them 14 days in which they can contact you and arrange collection or you will dispose of the goods. Make sure that you do this in writing with proof of postage/read receipt email so that you have a record if you dispose/keep/sell the item. See this post.

2) There should be no cost or inconvenience to you. State also that you will dispose of the goods if you are not sent a return postage label/packaging or arrangement for a courier. Keep this correspondence evidence.

3) If you have been in contact with the company regarding ordering items see Mail Order, online and deliveries and Consumer Right Act 2015

Your call
Mostly, it boils down to morals and whether you want to take the risk keeping an item and I cannot make that call for you. But bear in mind that if the item(s) were sent in error (see “Not unsolicited goods” section above) they may contact you and if you have used the item you will have to pay for it. Many times the company says keep the item.

General rule of thumb which answers most if not all the questions in the comments – if you have received goods from a company that you have dealt with, it is 99% likely that there has been an error such as someone putting in the wrong number into the computer. These are NOT unsolicited goods. Unsolicited goods are simply receiving something out of the blue from a company that you have not been in contact with!

You must try to do everything to return the item if it falls into any of the other categories above.

Further help
It is extremely unlikely going from the popularity of this post and the comments I receive that you are in possession of unsolicited goods, or that your case is unique. You probably HAVE received poor service however and there is probably a breach of consumer law though! For that, please see :

Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively.

Consumer Rights Act 2015

Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

If you are having problems contacting the company try the ceo and you can get the contact details for him or her here at ceoemail.com

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