Categories
ADR Ombudsman Business Latest News Press releases

Ryanair tops the CAA refund complaints figures

Press release

Low-cost airline is highest in regulator’s complaints figures

Ryanair is the most complained about airline by far, according to figures recently released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

A Freedom of Information Request reveals that more than half of all the 1280 complaints received by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding refunds due to COVID-19 related cancellations were about Ryanair. The CAA received 642 complaints about Ryanair. The second most complained about airline, Air Transat, was not even close, with a total of only 120 complaints. [1]

The CAA has collated the information on 74 airlines. recording how many passengers have complained about cancellation refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

In its FOI response the CAA said that “Should any airline fall short of the commitments they have made, we will not hesitate to take any further action where required.” However, in its review into airline refund practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryanair was one of the airlines identified by the CAA as not processing refund requests sufficiently quickly. The CAA found that the airline had a sizeable backlog of refund requests and that refunds were taking 10 weeks or longer.

Ryanair aeroplane in sky

Ryanair’s broken promise

On 3 July, Ryanair published a set of commitments on its website about timescales for processing cash refunds. Ryanair confirmed that 90% of its backlog would be cleared by the end of July with all refund claims made in April to be processed by 15 July and most of the claims made in May by the end of July. Their website now states that more than 90% were processed by the end of July but there is no update nearly 3 months on and customers are still waiting for refunds today:

 

So, what action is the CAA taking against Ryanair, a company that is flagrantly breaking the law on refunds of cancelled flights?  It is not doing anything…

Passengers take matters further

Passengers who fail to get their refunds are bypassing the tortuously long delays that Ryanair appears to to be imposing on them. Marcus Williamson, editor of the consumer information website CEOemail.com, says “Ryanair customers who email the CEO are having success in getting their refunds processed, but some have had to threaten legal action before getting a positive result.”

Clearly Ryanair knows it is breaking the law by not making these refunds in a timely manner and makes the refund when threatened with legal action by its customers. Ironically, by threatening legal action, Ryanair’s own customers are achieving far more than the CAA is doing in trying to get the company to respect the law!

Ryanair was asked to comment but refused to do so.

CAA fails again

This is the latest in a series of failures by the CAA. Less than two weeks ago Helen Dewdney – The Complaining Cow a consumer champion – exposed the CAA for launching a consultation on Alternative Dispute Resolution without telling stakeholders, covering it on social media or any press release. The exposé prompted the regulator to reopen the consultation for a further 6 weeks.[2]

If a consumer is unable to resolve their complaint with their airline, they can escalate it to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body or, if their airline is not a member of an ADR scheme, through the CAA. Ryanair is no longer a member of an ADR scheme. However, the CAA has done little to address the problems regarding ADR[3]  or Ryanair’s illegal behaviour.

In December 2018 the CAA stated that it was taking enforcement action against Ryanair for the company’s failure to pay compensation to passengers when the airline staff took strike action. Nearly two years on there has been no update about what action the CAA will take.

New CAA Chairman but passengers still losing out

A new Chairman started at the CAA on 1 August 2020.[4] But unfortunately the new chair, Sir Stephen Hillier, has been ineffective in tackling airlines that are continuing to break the law on consumer refunds.

Dewdney says that she is not surprised by the latest findings:

“The Competition and Markets Authority has taken enforcement action against companies that are breaking the law, such as holiday companies. It continues to keep the public informed with guidance and has used its regulatory powers to tale enforcement action.

In contrast, the CAA has similar powers but has shown itself to be not fit for purpose. Over and over again, it is finding in favour of airlines and letting them behave illegally. The CAA needs to use its enforcement powers to revoke airline operating licenses where airlines do not comply with the law.”

Notes to Editors

[1] FOI airline complaints response and spreadsheet to Helen Dewdney’s request available on request

[2] CAA launches consultation and tells no-one… https://www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk/caa-launches-consultation-and-tells-no-one/

[3] See Ombudsman Omnishambles and the More Ombudsman Omnishambles reports which looked at approval and monitoring of ADR schemes.

[4] See details of the appointment   https://www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk/civil-aviation-authority-caa-gets-new-chairman/

Categories
Latest News Press releases Topical

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer. New consumer guide

“If complaining is an art form, Helen Dewdney is Rembrandt” – Robert Rinder TV Judge, Barrister TV Presenter

101 Habits if an Effective complainer book cover with logoNew consumer guide from best-selling author, The Complaining Cow – released 18 December

The British find it hard to complain and assert their legal rights and it’s even harder when they get fobbed off by companies. Consumers say it can take too much time or they just don’t know where to start. Even after embarking on a complaint, some quite simply don’t have the confidence to keep going. At last, help is at hand. Consumer Champion Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, has written a new book 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer.

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

The book was released on 18 December 2019 and follows the success of her earlier best-seller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

Although written in an easy-to-read and light-hearted style, 101 Habits provides readers with the confidence to complain effectively, improving the way people make complaints, so as to get the results they want.

Each page provides a complaining habit to consider and an example of how and why it empowers the reader to become more effective in getting the results they want. These anecdotes come from Dewdney’s own experience or from one of the people she has helped to gain redress using that habit. Accompanying the habit and example is a novelty graphic to illustrate the point!

Whilst some consumer books give the information needed to complain, this new book is unique in that it helps to develop a new mindset for complaining effectively. By showing how and when to complain (and also compliment), the reader will feel empowered to be more positive and confident after reading and using a selection of the 101 habits. Regardless of the issue, whether it’s telecoms, retail, energy or finance, the same basic principles apply to complaining in any sector.

Reviews

Consumer champions have been quick to praise 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer.

When it comes to asserting one’s legal rights Barrister Robert Rinder (TV’s Judge Rinder) knows a thing or two. He says that Dewdney’s book is

“… easy to follow, beautifully written and – above all – teaches us that complaining effectively doesn’t require rudeness or angry sharp elbows. Dewdney’s book is a brilliant reminder that being a successful complainer (or getting what you were entitled to in the first place) is simple to achieve and can even be fun. Her superb how-to guide isn’t for ‘complainers,’ it’s for anybody who has ever been a consumer and been let down – it’s for all of us.”

Rinder isn’t the only consumer rights celebrity who has endorsed the book. Matt Allwright, presenter of BBC Watchdog, says:

“Helen’s book gets it spot on, and steers you away from all the complaining cul-de-sacs and coups de foudre. Before you pick up the phone or log in to Twitter – read it. A great result is probably closer than you think.”

Paul Lewis, the presenter of BBC Radio 4 Moneybox, puts it this way:
“If How to Complain is the essential companion to your shopping then 101 Habits should be by your laptop whenever you think you have been treated badly by a retailer or a business you have dealt with. Breathe deeply. Flex your fingers. And get complaining!”

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer will make a great Christmas present for anyone who needs more confidence in asserting their rights and getting the results they want!

What's in there then? A review by Rob Rinder