Homebase customers – what you need to know

Homebase announced on 14 August 2018 that it will close 42 stores across the UK. They will be shut over the next 16 months in addition to the 17 which already closed their doors earlier in the year. As well as the job losses at stores, around 300 people have been made redundant at the company’s head office in Milton Keynes.

old fashioned Summer house decorated chair with cushion

Homebase gift vouchers

If you have gift vouchers for Homebase it would be wise to get them spent now. Why? Well it is likely that these 42 stores will close soon and others may well follow. You may well have to travel further to get them spent. Also, if the chain continues to have problems and closes altogether you will not be able to spend your gift vouchers at all.

Homebase returns

The same applies to having to deal with any returns. It may also be more difficult if the chain is in trouble to assert your legal rights, as it possible that stores will try and encourage you to take repairs and replacements rather than a refund. Remember that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 entitles you to a full refund up to 30 days from purchase for items not fit for purpose or not of satisfactory quality. The act applies to the company as a whole and not to a particular store.

The restructuring company Hilco, which bought the chain for £1 in May 2018 has confirmed that it is planning a Company Voluntary Arrangement. This is a formal deal between an insolvent business and its creditors by which the company seeks to keep going, often through drastic cost savings, such as closing stores.

The BBC article Homebase plans to close 42 stores and cut 1,500 jobs explains more about the background and what is happening with the chain.  Here’s a full list of the Homebase stores that will close following this most recent announcement.

 

Virgin on the ridiculous – UKTV dropped. Your RIGHTS!

Update 12/08/18 Virgin Media and UKTV reached an agreement. So well done to those who followed my advice and got a discount! BONUS!!!

What’s going on?

On Thursday 19 July 2018 Virgin quietly released a statement on its website. It announced that it would be removing Drama, Really, Yesterday, Home, Gold, W, Alibi, Dave, Eden and Good Food. This includes +1 and HD channels, as well as On Demand and TV Go content.

The situation seems to have arisen because of  a failure by Virgin Media and UKTV to reach an agreement on fees to be charged for the television content that UKTV provides to Virgin Media customers.

Eagle eyed customers took to social media to vent their frustration. JayBird summed up most people’s comments in both her original tweet to VirginMedia and her reply which did not get an answer.

What did Virgin Media say?

Questions regarding cancelling the contract and getting a reduction in the price people are currently paying were met with the same statement and link or blanked.

I challenged VirginMedia and got the following response:

So what can you do?

I disagree with Virgin Media’s tweet. People wanting to cancel the contract should be able to do so. When consumers signed up to the package it included UKTV. If UKTV is removed from the bundle it is not the bundle they paid for under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Virgin’s Terms and Conditions state that it can, at any time modify, amend or alter the terms of the agreement and/or the services if: “We decide that the services should be altered for reasons of quality of service or otherwise for the benefit of customers or, our reasonable opinion, it is necessary to do so;”

I am not impressed. This could be considered an unfair contract term, as it is weighed in favour of the company. Who decides if the channels replacing UKTV are better quality? Offering Murder She Wrote rather than the award winning TaskMaster – about to enter its seventh series – is questionable! (If you haven’t see in it you are missing out, it is THE funniest programme on telly).

If consumers are unhappy with the new bundle and want to change or end their current contract without any penalties I advise writing to Virgin Media and stating that it is in breach of contract under the Consumer Rights Act. This and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations both protect consumers from unfair contracts. You should not be out of pocket and so any refund should be backdated to the date of the change so long as you notify Virgin Media within a reasonable time.

You could also email  Virgin Media’s CEO. He won’t respond personally but hey let’s fill up the inbox with hundreds of emails requesting a refund or cancellation! Virgin Media CEO contact details (and any other CEO for that matter!) As a Virgin Media customer for many many years I can tell you that  the Executive Office aint good! But keep at it!

I am hearing of lots of people who can’t get through on the ‘phone. You do not need to so this. It would be an unfair contract term to say you can only cancel by phone. There would be no evidence if you want to take the matter further or proof that Virgin Media made the offer it did. To say nothing of saving you time. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively

Some people are not getting discount some are. Some people are getting out of their contracts penalty free some aren’t. My guess is that the people who are winning are quoting consumer law. Make sure you are armed.

Mixed results from people who are ringing Virgin (see the comments under the blog post!) But! People who are following the advice above are getting good results, so do it!

FB post - complained to CEO weekly discount for year FB post terminate contract for free or £3 a month reduction

Trading Standards

You can also report Virgin Media for this breach through CAB. Enough people do that perhaps we can get them fined as well! Just copy and paste stuff from here or simply send the link, it gives the law breach and their stance. (Unless you write and quote your rights!)

Ofcom

Ofcom also now says could be considered unfair contract term and is in discussions with Virgin Media. So mention this when you negotiate with Virgin Media too.

UKTV

Meanwhile:

Update 23 July 2018

26/07/18 In a statement to me UKTV said:

“UKTV ratings have been down by 4% since we’ve been off Virgin Media, and we’ve had thousands of viewers telling us that they’re in the process of switching to other providers so they can continue to watch our channels. We’d love to thank our viewers for all of their support.”

Taskmaster

Currently the best programme on tv.  A spokesperson for @TaskmasterUnoff  (the Twitter account set up by the makers of the programme before the official account was set up by UKTV/DAVE) said “4 million customers have the bundle so that’s 4 million potential viewers down.”

4 million!!!

Virgin Media comment

I asked Virgin Media press office for a comment. It refused to provide one.

Didn’t get a response to this either:

There’s a petition against Virgin Media too!

Warnings

Also be careful if you go for a price reduction. Look through the offer carefully:

Also be warned. The scammers were quick off the mark:

Oh and new customers?

How’s that for misleading consumers? Those who sign up for UKTV tonight (Saturday 21 July 2018) find that they don’t have it? Oh yes breach of consumer law! Feel free to copy and report to the Advertising Standards Authority.

ITV

Looks like could be an issue with ITV programmes too. Virgin Media could lose ITV programmes in long-running dispute. 

Certainly the same legal rights and what you should do apply.

28 July 2018 last minute deal has been signed to  keep ITV on Virgin Media for 3 years.

Greg Davies Alex Horne Taskmaster on tv on wall

More help

Want help writing that complaint? See Top 20 tips for complaining effectively.

For more help complaining about telecom providers see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

 

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

 

And for more advice, stories, consumer laws and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

 

Passengers doubly likely to be delayed on flights will need double the help!

School holiday time is upon us again. For many people this will mean taking a flight abroad to a favourite destination. But it is now more likely than ever that you will encounter problems with your flight. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently revealed that delays so far this year have already more than doubled, compared to 2017. European Air Traffic Control Delays Loom over Summer Air Travel.

IATA says “Data from Eurocontrol shows that in the first half of 2018, Air Traffic Management (ATM) delays more than doubled to 47,000 minutes per day, 133% more than in the same period last year. Most of these delays are caused by staffing and capacity shortages as well as other causes such as weather delays and disruptive events. The average delay for flights delayed by air traffic control limitations reached 20 minutes in July, but the longest delay reached 337 minutes (5 hours 37 minutes).”

Companies do not do enough to inform people of their rights and most people do not get the compensation they are owed. So, here are some tips on what to do if your flight is postponed, cancelled or you are denied boarding.

aeroplane wing in sky "Flight delays more than doubled in the EU. Your rights"

1)    Compensation for delays is only due on flights in the EU or when using an EU airline arriving two hours (for cancelled and denied boarding flights up to 1,500km, 3 hours for over this length) or more late. How much you are entitled to depends on how long the delay and how long the flight. It changes again if the flight is cancelled before/after seven days before you are due to depart. It does not reflect the price of the flight and is a fixed amount of compensation.

2)    If your flight is cancelled or delayed for several hours – the airline must look after passengers. It must provide food, drinks, and some communications. If you are delayed overnight, this also means providing you with a hotel and the travel to and from it. (All these must still be provided even if the delay was out of the airline’s control).

3)    If your flight is cancelled – the airline must offer an alternative flight or a full refund. You may also be entitled to compensation if the flight was cancelled less than 14 days before the scheduled departure.

4)    Denied boarding or “bumped” from a flight – the airline must offer an alternative flight or a refund. Passengers are entitled to compensation. (Between €125 and €600 depending on length of flight).

5)    If your flight is delayed by more than 5 hours and you no longer want to travel you, and your fellow passengers, are entitled to a full refund.

6)    If you miss your connecting flight and so arrived at the final destination more than 3 hours late, you are entitled to compensation of between €250 and €600. However, this is only the case if you book both flights together but they can be with different airlines.

7)    Airlines may advise you to make alternative travel arrangements, then claim back the cost later. If you do this, try to keep costs down as much as you can, keep receipts and write down the name of the person giving this advice. Book with the same airline if at all possible.

8)    Airlines may try and fight your claim! Be ready with quoting your legal rights. You are due to compensation under Regulation (EC) 261/2004. In March 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that airlines must pay compensation when passengers miss a connecting flight and arrive more than 3 hours late, even for destinations outside of the EU.

9)    The airlines do not have to respond to complaints within an official time limit, so set them a date by which you expect to receive a response. At the very least they should send you “holding letter” of investigation upon receipt of your complaint.

10) If you are not satisfied with the response you can take the issue to an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider, such as CEDR for BA flights, or make a claim through the online small claims system.

You have up to 6 years to request compensation, so look at cases where you have been refused compensation in the past. It is such a small minority of people who claim this compensation, airlines should do more to ensure passengers are given what’s due instead of blatantly ripping them off!blue sky aeroplane

 

For more information and details on delays (including strikes) and your rights see What to do when your flight is delayed  and Airline compensation rates and claim letter template.

See  All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for more information about flights delays, including compensation levels and holiday complaints.

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

 

For more advice, tips, consumer law and template letters….

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

Tesco Christmas in July

What? Well! Supermarkets, department stores, superstores and the like all have a Christmas in July.  What is it? Well, it’s quite ridiculous but magazines like Good Housekeeping etc. are writing their Christmas articles now so need to know what’s the best of stuff out there. So the stores hold events showing off their Christmas wares. Loads of bloggers go too. Probably works the same with fashion. Anyway, although I am a blogger I don’t do sponsored posts, reviews etc. Much as I’d love to get lots of free stuff to review and fings, it wouldn’t be in the spirit of of what The Complaining Cow does.

Because of this I tend not to go to these kind of events. More missing out! But, yeah it was Tesco so had to be done didn’t it? Got to find something to complain about. (See The Complaining Cow’s history with Tesco for lots of stories of complaints, taking them to court, meeting and then interviewing the CEOs and stuff.)

I asked for an invite! They said yes! Told the Media team I would try and find something to complain about! Head of Corporate PR said it was Christmas so don’t try too hard! Like I need to try?

So, whilst all the other bloggers and journalists gather their best bits from all the events I bring  you a piece just on Tesco warts and all!

Alessandra and HelenWhen I arrived they had dedicated the Head of Media Relations, Shoshana and the Chief Customer Officer Alessandra (I interviewed last year) to show me round the event! I wonder if this was because they were more worried about what I might say more than anyone else  and thought pre-warned is pre-armed. Well wanna see what I found? Read on, there’s some nice pictures after all.

A door, yep a welcoming Xmas door to the festivities. I should probably say though that I went to the end/exit to meet Shoshana, because that’s my sense of direction and idiocy. She sensibly came and got me and took me to the front! Anywhere where was I, other than lost? Oh yes  the front door. Glass of prosecco on the way? Don’t mind if I do.

biscuits on a plate to try

Right, chocolate. See that gap? Obviously happy to oblige when asked to “Try one”! Very yummy, hand decorated but frankly who cares?! Belgian choc biscuits £4 bit steep would they have been cheaper if not hand painted? 12. Making them 33.3p each.  Yes that glass is mine.

Here comes a complaint. Not allowed to try the chocolate penguin 🙁 Not allowed to try the double chocolate marshmallows 🙁 Not allowed to try those little cakes 🙁 (all on the row behind the table).

Cotswolds is the theme this year. So you can expect to see scenes from the Cotswolds. You’ll see that through the decorations, paper, cards and china. Interestingly they have designed products so that if you break a bauble, for example, or just want to add to your collection next year, they are keeping designs similar so you don’t have to buy all new sets. Not that I would do that anyway! Far too tight to buy different decorations for the tree every year! Not sure whether I like the designs or not. On balance I think I like them. Will I be buying anything from the range? Possibly but I prefer funny cards. They are still doing very similar if not the same Christmas paper as last year. (And cheap plus my book looks good wrapped up in it! 🙂 )Probably buy that because obviously I liked it. That and I’ll have last year’s gift tags to go with it. Have to say the glasses  and other tableware were tasteful though.

Decorations and wrapping paper

Tesco has its own inhouse design team who knew? Well probably quite a few people but the majority don’t and that includes the people at the event. They design all sorts of stuff throughout the year, but here they were showing off all the design stages of their pictures etc.

Tesco employee drawing

Two women drawing at table

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ha! Best table in the room Alcohol!

Bar two women serving sparkling wines

one white one rose low alcohol sparkling wineI tried a low alcohol sparkling wine! (0.5%) Last time I tried a non alcoholic wine was when I was pregnant, took one sip and threw the rest of the glass and bottle away! But this wasn’t bad, bit sweet but low/no alcohol needs sugar as a preservative.

proseccoOf course I liked the most expensive prosecco on offer. Finished the glass I had and took a glass of that round the rest of the tour! Apparently Tesco is the biggest provider of Prosecco – well wouldn’t it be being the biggest supermarket on the planet? That said, I have a feeling my neighbours and I contribute to the sales rather too much…. Anyway, can’t say it was worth twice the price of their range of prosecco at the other end of the price spectrum but then I probably have a very immature palate?!

 

salmon and bagel wraps

£3.50 for that salmon bagel! Well it looked nice but seriously £3.50? Apparently I wasn’t the only one to comment on the price. Apparently it is because the salmon is gin-and-juniper cured and another piece is oak smoked. Buy a bottle and some salmon and do it yourself? Oh and don’t forget the “candy striped beetroot” ‘cos obviously that is worth paying for right? Where’s the rolling eyes emoticon gone?

 

sausage rolls

Mind you, next to this were some very good sausage rolls.

OMG! They were vegan. Blimey! Maybe it wasn’t those I tried. Surely? Perhaps I’m muddling them up with some little pork pies, they were good! Can’t remember the detail though sorry!

I called the below the Tummy Rumbler table. Also known as Quite The Teaser. Very good looking prawns, pork burger things (they were good, buying them) and other stuff which you can’t see very well because my picture is rubbish. Did make me want to have some people round though! It all cooks at the same time same temperature. More time to spend with guests drinking prosecco! They did do that last year so it aint new! Okay, looking in the Tesco marketing whatsit the pork burger things are called “Tesco Finest Hog Roast Crackling Sliders” Oh, they have apple and cider chutney in them. Don’t like cider and apple chutney. What happened there then? That’ll teach me to keep telling my son to try new foods when I don’t.

Xmas party food on tiers baubles hanging in cornerYou know pigs in blankets? Tesco has introduced pigs in duvets (on the left in the picture below) I kid ye not. Looked nice though, but again couldn’t taste 🙁sausage rolls, pigs in blankets on standCold meats

Right, now. This Italian meats table was all very good lots of new stuff. Tesco staff have been on jollies to Italy and experimenting with stuff! I have to tell you the proscuttio soaked in prosecco was really very good! Very moist. Looked it up to buy but it’s not available yet 🙁

Toys, variety of new products, including pooing unicorns. Amused me anyway.

unicorn pooToys on tiered stand

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas treats for your pets anyone? Advent calendars? They sold hundreds of thousands of these Christmas pet items last year! I suppose if you buy treats then getting an Xmas bone isn’t very different but please tell me why, if you actually buy an advent calendar for your dog?!Pet treats, advent calendarsThere were Christmas jumpers, The usual stuff. Cute winter coat for a little girl though. £16 navy blue based on the Royals (roll of eyes emoticon) but cute and good value, well certainly less than the one bought for Charlotte Windsor. Don’t suppose that came from Tesco.

Then came the last room. This is where the tummy rumbles became seriously audible. Have to say the stuff around looked fantastic and I wasn’t the only one that wanted to tuck in!

Table full of Xmas day food

cauliflower in

 

If you are veggie then er have some cauliflower in pastry. £6 I’m not sure I have a comment.

 

 

 

Puddings. Phone ran out of charge! What a time to go! So here are some pics from the promotional whatsit that was in the goody bag:

pictures of cakes

Just, just, look they looked fabulous in real life ok?! And yeah I have got a complaint. To put all that out and only have a few profiteroles out for tasting was cruel. Cruel I tell you. And there isn’t a picture of the Xmas tree cone chocolate hoojamaflips. Now, they are superb.

But last year I went to a Tesco thing to catch early viewing of the advertscakes and profiteroles and they had the chocolate cone tree hoojamaflips out for tasting. I don’t like Xmas pud and decided I wanted them for my pud come 25th December. I went to order and they didn’t have any. The lovely manager at Lea Valley even tried to find me some. I was assured that this year there will be enough. Someone is in big fat serious trouble if I don’t get them this year.

Good selection of cheeses, didn’t take a photo wasn’t impressed by them putting them all on a grand piano frankly. Not what a piano is for.

On approaching the big table I saw Dave Lewis (Tesco CEO). I don’t know if he saw me but he disappeared very quickly. He wasn’t going to get away with it so I emailed him!  In fact I told him that I was told Tesco is the biggest prosecco supplier and that was down to my two neighbours and me and that he was welcome! Even though I still hadn’t received an invite to test prosecco and chocolate truffles! He has tried to assure me that he didn’t run (one assumes he walked quickly!) and that we could have had some impromptu prosecco tasting! Well now he owes me!

Home time. Got a nice goody bag, flipping heavy to carry though. Can’t show you a photo ‘cos I accidentally ate some of the contents on the tube home and drank the half bottle of wine when I got home. But here’s someone else’s pic!

So there you go. My work here is done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to give your family and your wallet a holiday

As the school holiday season is upon us many of us turn our thoughts to warmer climes and getting away from it all. But with this long heatwave  for the UK how about holidaying here, supporting the UK economy and catch some good deals along the way. Some money bloggers reveal the best ways to save money for essentials or the treats!

Trees and grass

 

Use the Tourist Information UK website for ideas of where to go.

Booking

Emma Bradley from Mums Savvy Savings advises that as well as picking up the ‘phone to negotiate the best prices, we should book breaks away using cashback sites. For example, Topcashback* is currently giving up to 5% in cashback for Haven holidays and up to 6% for Park Holidays and up to 12% for hotel chains and booking sites. Andrew Young from Capital Matters goes further, advising that you shouldn’t just check comparison and cashback sites, but check your credit cards too. Amex, for example, offer quite generous cashback amounts on certain travel purchasing. And you can use this on top of normal comparison/cashback discounts if you just use the card and meet the requirements.

Other credit cards give cashback for any purchases too. Reward points for supermarket shopping and credit cards can be used to make huge savings on holiday flights, ferries and hotels.

Friends and Family

Family Budgeting blogger Becky Goddard-Hill believes you get the best of everything if you involve your friends around the country! Visiting and reciprocating will not just give you a meal and a room for the night but you get to catch up with old pals, introduce their kids to yours and find the best top tips for fun in the local area. Jane Wallace from Skinted Minted Mum chips in that you can share the babysitting and not have to pay for the service! She adds “Relatives are good for this too. If children have friends on site it makes rainy days less boring and less expensive finding something to do.”

If you normally buy each other Christmas presents then use the visits to include meals out, tickets etc. which can be part of the holiday but can also be your Christmas present giving sorted!

Hotels/Guest houses

Lady Janey Jane Hanson provides some crafty ways for saving even after paying for a hotel. “Take your own champagne/alcohol miniatures/chocolates/cakes and balloons for any special occasions. These types of things are so expensive when the hotel provides them. The same with breakfasts. If you have to pay extra for breakfast, try to take your own juices, pasties, cereal pots or bars and fruit, especially if just staying overnight.”

Michelle Bailey from Time and Pence adds “Take an electric coolbox to keep in your room. Perfect to keep snacks and drinks fresh and cool and will save you a fortune!”

If you get complimentary toiletries and don’t use them, take them, as they are provided as part of your stay! You can always donate them to a foodbank or charity.Tress small tentHow to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

Be prepared and do your research

Jennifer Dixon from My Mummy Pennies suggests you “Check out the local council website for the area in which you’ll be staying. They will usually list free events and activities that you can attend with the children rather than paying out for theme parks and attractions.”

Ask around and search the Internet for forums, reviews and recommendations for lesser known and cheaper alternatives to popular destinations such as Center Parcs.

Travelling

Kaya La Roche from the artfully named Earning by the Sea lives in Margate and often takes the family on a camping holiday in Whitstable which is less than 20 miles away! “Why spend your time travelling when you can spend that time enjoying the change of scenery?”, she questions, continuing “Other people holiday in Whitstable why shouldn’t we?! We get a swimming pool, clubhouse, beautiful beaches and the full holiday experience with none of the travel costs, or long travel times in the car with kids!”

The Money Whisperer Emma Maslin loads up the car with items to save money on holidays. She has a plug-in coolbox for picnics, takes disposable BBQs and loads the bikes on the bike rack, so there are no hire costs when they get there. She takes an inflatable dinghy, boogie boards and sandcastle-making equipment (!) so she doesn’t have the children pleading to buy things at the expensive beachfront shops.

Don’t forget to fill up the car with fuel near your home because service stations on motorways or in the countryside can be hugely more expensive! You can use the site Petrol Prices to plan where to fill up on long journeys.

Camping

Charlotte Jessop from Looking After Your Pennies and her family are big fans of camping. They choose camp sites that have access to lakes and rivers so they can swim, row and cycle with beautiful scenery. They go to sites where they are allowed to make fires, have barbecues and cook all their own food. “It all helps to keep the kids entertained AND the cost low”, she enthuses.

Hayley Muncey from Miss Many Pennies finds booking a lodge/holiday cottage/mobile home ideal. “It gives you more room for the kids to play, saves on eating out and you can also buy boxes of ice-creams to pop in the freezer. That way the kids still get the treat but for a fraction of the cost of buying individual ones!”

Your Money Sorted blogger Eileen Adamson agrees. “We have had some amazing, fun holidays staying in static caravans all over the country. Choose a gorgeous area and you have a fantastic base for exploring, and you can use as much or as little of the site’s facilities as you choose.”

House sitting/swappingHouse at top of picture, house at bottom "House sitting, swaps and other ideas for saving money on holidays

Catherine Morgan from The Money Panel got a weekend away last year in Norfolk by house swapping with another family. Catherine filled up their fridge and the house swappers filled up theirs in return.

Tim Mitchell who writes the Money Engineer, has house sat twice for his parents while they went on holiday. There were several National Trust owned places near them so they became NT members in those two years and so had lots of discounted days out.

Your rights

Well, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t write something up on your rights would it?!

“You have a contract with any trader to whom you have given money. So, if you hire a caravan, book a campsite or hotel they must be as described, of satisfactory quality and where a service is provided, must be carried out with reasonable skill and care. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you this protection. If the trader is in breach you will be entitled to a full or partial refund, depending on what went wrong.”

See All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for more posts on how to save money on holidays and your rights.

Travelling abroad money saving tips

Complaining in hotels was covered on Rip Off Britain:

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

 

For information, stories, advice, consumer rights and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

* tell a friend link. So I’ll make a few pennies if you click on that link and sign up. Then you need to get your own link and make a few pennies when people sign up using your link!