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:

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!

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

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.

What will happen to consumer rights after Brexit?

Brexit and EU consumer law

As of today Brexit is still a mess! No final decisions have been made about anything.

The future of EU consumer law in the UK

EU law continues to apply until the UK leaves the EU. When the UK does leave, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 comes into force which is the repealing of the European Communities Act 1972. It allows for the Parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement being negotiated between the Government and the European Union.

The UK will retain existing EU law. The laws made over the last 40 years whilst the UK was an EU member will remain in place, unless the Government decides to change any of them.

Many of the EU directives regarding consumer rights are actually enshrined in UK law. So, most will remain the same unless/until they are updated, repealed or changed by Parliament.

Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012

The Government has said that in the case of a no-deal Brexit the cost of credit and debit card payments for transactions between the UK and EU are likely to increase.

credit card, phone car and aeroplane

Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018

If there is a no-deal Brexit, EU traders selling these arrangements in or to consumers in the UK will be required to comply with the insolvency protection requirements, as above, so you will still be financially protected if the company goes bust.

If the organiser is not based in the UK, or does not direct its business to the UK, this may not be the case. Request very clear information regarding insolvency protection before booking. You won’t be covered by these regulations but you may be covered by insolvency protection arrangements in the EU member state.

Consumer laws covering purchases in the EU

If there is a no-deal Brexit consumers will not be able to use the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform provided by the European Commission. You may not be able to use the UK-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) organisations for cross border disputes as they will no longer be required to act in cross-border disputes.

If there is a no-deal Brexit you will still be able to return items purchased from an EU retailer. You will still be buying items under the law in the seller’s country. However, it may be more difficult to return items and you may have to go that country if you want to take the matter to court.

If you incur problems after the exit date this will also apply.

If there is a deal there should be no change.

Consumer safety and the EU

If there is a no-deal Brexit the UK will instantly stop being part of the EU agencies and regulatory bodies that are responsible for undertaking safety assessments, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Therefore UK bodies would have to take on this responsibility to ensure consumer safety. UK consumers will still be able to monitor EU consumer product recalls via the Rapid Exchange of Information System (RAPEX) website. Alerts issued by RAPEX provide information about dangerous products and steps being taken to prevent or restrict marketing.

Flights

If there is a no-deal Brexit there could well be disruption to flights around the time the UK actually leaves the EU. This is because the UK would not be part of the European Common Aviation Area and bilateral agreements need to be made.

At the point of writing it is not clear if a flight disruption would be considered as an “extraordinary” circumstance for the purposes of EU 261. I suspect it will be a matter to be fought in court. You should still get a refund but you may not get the compensation, consequential losses or admin fees. Check with your travel insurer as to whether your flight would be covered by Brexit issues.

If you have missed a connecting train due to the cancellation or delay, you can claim a refund for the unused part of the journey should you not go on a later train or have to use an alternative form of transport. You could consider claiming for consequential losses, as above.

Roaming charges

If there is a deal the Government has said that free roaming will remain guaranteed for the implementation period. (This should apply until the end of December 2020 at least. This may be extended until December 2022 for a variety of reasons, but both sides need to agree). Future arrangements after this date will depend on the details of the deal.

If there is a no-deal Brexit, at the point of going to print the Government has proposed a statutory instrument to prepare for changes to mobile roaming arrangements. If it is approved, it will remove the obligation for mobile providers to offer free roaming in the EU. The proposed new law retains the current global data cap on mobile roaming of £45 per monthly billing period and would also legislate to ensure the current alerts issued at 80% and 100% data usage continue.