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

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.

Don’t get penalised for being loyal to your telecoms provider

The telecoms loyalty penalty

You might hope that being a loyal customer to a company would result in that company being loyal to you and treating you well. However, unfortunately, loyalty is penalised in many consumer sectors, including insurance, energy and telecoms. In so many cases, a new subscriber will get a better deal than a loyal customer who has been with the company for years.

Why do they do this? Well, it’s easy to entice a new customer with low-priced offers. Whereas companies can take advantage of the fact that many existing customers will stay, even if the pricing isn’t great, because people think it’s too much hassle to change.

Ofcom has recently announced changes which will hopefully help improve the situation in the telecoms sector. The regulator says that 40% of all households are overpaying for their broadband and the extra customers are paying could be at least £100 more a year.

why you should write not phone to complain

Ringing the changes

From 15 February 2020 all broadband providers must tell customers when their contract comes to an end and inform them about the best deals being offered to new clients. Does this go far enough to help the 8 and 1/2 million households affected get a better broadband deal and save money?

Issues with changing packages

With many providers you can upgrade online but to downgrade you have to ring the company’s customer service line. This means the inevitable long waits and then hearing them trying to convince you to stay or to upgrade. In its research Which? found that One in two of us abandon customer service calls.  69% of people who gave up on a call said they were on hold for too long.

I recently downgraded my package with Virgin Media. They refused to do it in writing. I refused to  discuss it over the phone and waste my time. I won. I emailed the CEO’s office and told them to give me the options in writing or I would go to the Ombudsman. I got my package downgraded. You can get CEO details from

Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Policy, Selina Chadha, told the BBC Moneybox programme that the regulator wants companies to treat their customers fairly. “It should be as easy to sign up to something and that would go for upgrading and downgrading as well I think that as a principle that’s absolutely right”.

Issues with switching providers

In December 2019 Ofcom launched a Consultation titled: Fair treatment and easier switching for broadband and mobile customers – Proposals to implement the new European Electronic Communications Code. However, given that the consultation document is 193 pages long (!), one does wonder how many consumers will actually respond!

A big issue for many consumers wanting to switch is not wanting to lose their email address. Companies must already allow customers to keep their phone number when switching and in 2020 I think we can all agree that one’s email address is as crucial as one’s number, possibly more so when it’s used as identification on so many websites! Chadha said Ofcom would do something about it if it was shown to be a barrier to switching. Seriously? Isn’t it obvious?!

10 Top Tips for getting the best Telecoms deals

  1. Have a good look at, and write down, what you are using with your current contract. What do you need? Check the download speeds. Check what you are and are not using. Do you use the add ons like Spotify, etc.
  2. Use comparison websites such as Moneysupermarket.com, Compare the market etc. as well as going to telecoms providers’ sites direct. Get an idea of the range of packages available and what you are prepared to pay before you make any decisions or start to haggle with your current provider.
  3. Use all the information you have gleaned from comparison and cashback sites when speaking to someone. Remember, if you’re ordering by telephone or on the internet you have 14 days to cancel should a better deal come along in the meantime.
  4. Haggle on the length of the deal you get offered as well as the price.
  5. Use cashback sites, such as Top Cashback and Quidco. Check them all as they have different offers.
  6. Consider any add ons that would give extra value if thrown in to any bundle but aren’t essential.
  7. If you can’t bear to wait on the phone, try Live Chat.
  8. Try contacting the CEO’s office. You can find the email address for any telecoms CEO on the website ceoemail.com Point out that you are a long standing loyal customer and that you don’t want to leave but will be forced to do so if it is not possible to receive a better offer. The CEO may not respond personally but someone from the Executive team will do.
  9. Check to see if you have any deals available with credit cards or discount cards you may have, such as a student card which may give you some money off a package.
  10. Be polite and assertive. If you are rude then no-one is going to want to offer you anything. Be assertive and persistent, politely arguing for a deal you want.

So let’s hope that Ofcom bring in more rules and soon. In the meantime to do fight for that better deal!

lap top on woman's knees phone in one hand

 

All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

 

 

 

 


Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

For lots of help, consumer laws, advice and  templates have another best seller! GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!