Do not accept neglect: Jane is not afraid to ask for more companies

How to get refund and compensate for substandard products by knowing your consumer rights

For over 20 years I have been against shoddy service and fake products. From second rate spa stays to tasteless supermarket steaks, you name it, I complained about it – and was compensated.

In the first six months of this year alone, she raised £600. But while knowing how to fight in your corner can earn you money, that’s not the only reason I do.

We work harder than ever for our pennies, and when you give away your money, nothing should be imperfect.

So what is my secret? it is easy. I know my consumer rights and I’m willing to scream about it. I don’t really see it as a complaint – just honest feedback.

Do not accept neglect: Jane is not afraid to ask for more companies

The 2015 Consumer Rights Act sets out what customers can expect from businesses when they pay for goods and services. If companies fail to meet these criteria, you have every right to be compensated.

When you buy a product, it must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If you are paying for a service, it must be rendered with “reasonable care and skill”.

Did the company or employee do everything they were supposed to do to efficiently deliver what you paid for?

I know what excellent customer service must look like because I’ve spent over a decade on the other side of the counter, first in a hair salon at age 14, then in restaurant and hospitality jobs.

Later, I worked as a cabin crew member for a major airline, serving people from all walks of life. But my years as an air hostess were cut short when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 26.

Many companies are now hiding behind a new excuse for shaking: Covid. But the companies had two years to deal with the changes. If we can adapt, so should they.

I have always enjoyed writing and did so for local publications after leaving the airline. Then my husband and I decided to build our own house. It took us seven years and we were battered by horrible customer experiences: inferior materials, damaged fittings and poor workmanship.

Spooked, I started my blog, ladyjaney.co.uk, in 2017. I wanted to share my experience and show others how to file a complaint.

However, while I built my reputation as the queen of customer service, the standards of some large companies were heading in the opposite direction.

Desperate hacking means corners are cut, fewer employees are available to help, and less money is spent on training. Customers are left paying more while quality and standards go down.

Sadly, it has only gotten worse since the pandemic, and many companies are now hiding behind a new excuse for neglect: Covid. But that’s enough. The companies had two years to deal with the changes. If we can adapt, so should they.

The Queen of Complaints: One of Jin's biggest wins was against a kitchen company

The Queen of Complaints: One of Jin’s biggest wins was against a kitchen company

Looking at some of my biggest wins, a victory over a kitchen company stands out.

I paid over £30,000 and yet I was plagued with pricing errors and missing components and units that were wrong specifications. I was charged extra for the lights which I thought were included in the price.

After the store was challenged under the Consumer Rights Act, £362.70 was refunded.

In January, I complained to my insurance company about their miscommunication when processing the exchange claim. I received £250 as a goodwill gesture.

Then, while staying at a spa hotel in February, some facilities were unavailable due to renovations. After complaining, I received a free visit of £200.

The late April takeaway, minus my favorite dish, earned me a partial refund of £13.50 as it was not delivered with due care and skill.

And after poor service from my mobile provider when I tried to cancel my contract, the company sought a three-month line lease worth £49.59 in May.

A bunch of horrible groceries in June, including unbreakable clingfilm (unfit for purpose), broken eggs (item not as described) and tasteless steak (poor quality) earned me £10 a week.

I may sound annoying, but if every week were like this, I would be wasting over £500 a year on unusable and inedible goods.

How to file a complaint … and get compensation

So how does the company account? The complaints process and their contact details should be listed on their website or on the back of your receipt. Always follow up any initial call with an email or letter.

For issues with online grocery orders, return the items to the store with the product and proof of purchase or contact the customer service home delivery team. Your delivery driver may refund the money immediately just as he does mine.

When writing, stick to the point and summarize the problem in bullet points. List which part of consumer rights law you think the company has failed to comply with.

List the action you expect them to take to correct the problem. Give a clear time frame for a response – I suggest seven days.

Know your rights: If a product or service isn't ready to be scratched and the provider doesn't give a refund, consumers can often get a refund from their debit or credit card provider

Know your rights: If a product or service isn’t ready to be scratched and the provider doesn’t give a refund, consumers can often get a refund from their debit or credit card provider

If a refund is not imminent and you make a full or partial payment using a credit card, contact the lender to see if you are entitled to a refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The cost of the goods must be £100 or more to be eligible.

If you used a debit card, you may be able to get your money back using the chargeback feature. This is where your bank tries to get a refund from the retailer’s bank if you don’t receive your purchase. There may be a time limit for claims.

Check the company’s website to see if they are registered with the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. For example, most airlines are registered with either the Aviation ADR or CEDR (Center for Effective Dispute Resolution).

Banks, insurance companies, and investment companies are registered with the Financial Ombudsman Service. This is a free and faster solution than going to small claims court.

The decision is not binding, so you can still pursue claims of up to £10,000 through the court, provided you give the company ample opportunity to address the issue.

It sounds more scary than it is. After we paid £1,678 for roof tiles that failed to arrive and caused exorbitant delays when we were rebuilding our garage, I took the retailer to court for negligence and breach of contract.

We sued not only for the cost of the tiles but also for the difference in price to buy new stones and additional labor fees – and we won.

There is an upfront fee of between £35 and £455, depending on the size of the claim, but it is refunded if you win.

If you get discouraged, it’s (almost) always worth fighting for.

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