MISS MONEYSAVER helps you with the cost of living crunch
The smart way to SEE RED at poor service: MISS MONEYSAVER helps you with the cost of living crunch
Nobody likes a moaner, but there are times when constructive complaining is justified — and it can reap rewards.
It would be great if things just worked as they should and firms fulfilled promises. However, increasingly, it seems we don’t live in that world: deliveries do not arrive on time, computer systems break down and items bought online can look terrible when they arrive.
I am always telling people to complain to the company if the goods or services they receive are wrong in some way.
This takes time, I know. But it is worth the effort — and I think it’s reasonable to expect compensation for all the time and nuisance in getting redress, on top of any money back for the original complaint.
MISS MONEYSAVER: Nobody likes a moaner, but there are times when constructive complaining is justified — and it can reap rewards
My friend Tira, who is self-employed, feels strongly about this and, over the years, has made sure she’s got more than just an apology for any grievances.
‘It is important to complain to keep companies honest,’ she says. ‘But you should always do it in a positive, cheerful and creative manner, letting the firm know that you want something back for your time.
‘One time, my complaint to an airline resulted not only in a charming apology but also a huge chocolate Easter bunny!
‘Then I had a dispute with Visa and I sent a letter with the cut-up card pasted to it saying I could never use its services again. Two days later, I got a charming apology and an offer of a new card with £100 on it. I decided to accept!’
Helen Dewdney, of The Complaining Cow (thecomplaining cow.co.uk), helps people to complain effectively when goods and services are not up to scratch.
She says the main aim is to get the refund or replacement you are legally entitled to when a firm fails to provide the item or service you have paid for.
But if its failure to supply what you need, or its poor behaviour to you has caused you to waste time or suffer serious inconvenience, it’s reasonable to expect some sort of compensation for that, too.
‘If I think I deserve some sort of payout, I ask for redress that reflects my time, inconvenience and stress caused,’ she says.
Also mention that you think you’ve been ‘treated unfairly’ or something is ‘unfair’.
The smart way to see red at slow service. I am always telling people to complain to the company if the goods or services they receive are wrong in some way. Picture: file image
‘Under the consumer rights acts — the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 — they mention “unfair contract terms”,’ says Helen. ‘It’s a good trigger word that makes companies sit up and take notice.’ When it comes to bad service and shoddy goods, she says telling firms you are ‘appalled’ and ‘disgusted’ (particularly when this refers to bad service) usually get her what she wants.
A few years ago, someone I knew who had worked in a complaints department told me that persistence and demanding a sum of money got results.
She said that if you keep demanding money even after it is refused the first few times you ask, you will usually get about half the amount you ask for on the third try.
Helen, on the other hand, says she never specifies how much she is seeking in redress.
In her view, firms often offer more compensation than she would have asked for. But she adds: ‘If what they offer isn’t enough, I will go back and say that I don’t think that is an appropriate amount given the time and stress the situation has caused. They often come back with a bigger offer.’
If dealing with the company’s complaints department is slow, contact the company’s chief executive or managing director. There’s a handy, free, website that has email addresses and phone numbers for a host of leaders called Ceoemail.com, which you can use to find the relevant person to contact.
Admittedly, you are likely to hear back from a lower member of the executive team, but your complaint is often swiftly and positively dealt with once you’ve put it to the Big Cheese.
If this still sounds like far too much of a time-wasting nuisance, use the helpful, free complaints service at resolver.co.uk, which has a direct line to the complaints departments of thousands of companies.
Even if the firm you have an issue with is not on its list, Resolver can still help you construct a complaint letter.
Martyn James, from Resolver, says that if you think you have been poorly treated you should make sure the company knows what you want to make it right.
‘A lot of people get very British at the end of negotiations,’ he says. ‘And they don’t ask for what they want to sort things out.
‘We ask people on the form to articulate what they want in compensation, whether that’s money or just a good apology.
‘We say if you don’t ask, you won’t get. You’ll get fobbed off with a fake apology, so name your price.’
Got a question for Jasmine? Email her at [email protected]
Clear out your old books for instant cash
If you’re having a clear-out, you can get instant cash for second-hand books by uploading their details to webuybooks.co.uk.
On average, it says people get about £29 for selling the books they no longer need.
But students who have unwanted academic books from last year can make more than that.
In fact, the website specialises in those big, expensive academic tomes that cost between £30 to £50 new.
As the cost of being a student has already gone up by 9 per cent this year, according to figures from Interactive Investor, selling text books could be a good way of helping to pay this year’s rent.
If you’re having a clear-out, you can get instant cash for second-hand books by uploading their details to webuybooks.co.uk. Picture: file image
10 per cent off weekly shop
As the cost of even basic foods rockets, one of the sites I am constantly pointing people to is approvedfood.co.uk which offers budget prices on a range of products from pasta to olive oil and from mince pies to crisps.
Now you can get an extra 10 per cent off everything (excluding shipping).
You have to spend a minimum of £22.50 and, if your basket adds up to more than £55, get free delivery.
Just use the code DAILYMAIL10 at the checkout. Valid until September 3, 2022.
Switch on to savings
For those with a gas boiler less than 20 years old, did you know there is a button that can save you money on your bill?
Most boilers have different modes.
One of them, Comfort Mode, can add to the cost as it guarantees instant hot water.
Whereas if you switch to Eco Mode, your water will not be pre-heated.
It should only take around 12 seconds for hot water to come out after the tap is turned on, but this slight delay will save you money and cut your boiler’s carbon emissions.
Cutting the cost of back-to-school
Parents will soon face the expense of sending their children back to class.
School uniforms, stationery, books, technology and more burn a hole in the bank account. But there are ways to send children back to school for less.
You might be eligible for a grant to help buy your child’s school uniform. This largely depends on where you live and your financial situation. In England, for example, your local council might offer grants if you are earning less than £16,190 a year or are on certain benefits.
Go to gov.uk/help-school-clothing-costs and search for your local authority to find out if it offers any help.
In Wales, if you’re eligible for free school meals, you can apply for a grant. In Scotland, you might be able to get a ‘School Clothing Grant’ by applying to your local council.
School uniforms, stationery, books, technology and more burn a hole in the bank account. But there are ways to send children back to school for less. Picture: file image
In Northern Ireland, the Clothing Allowance Scheme covers pupils in primary, post-primary and special schools, and generally covers those who qualify for free school meals. You can get this help by applying to the education authority.
If you don’t qualify for the grant, it’s worth contacting your child’s school to see if it has a second-hand uniform scheme.
Uniforms and sports gear are often donated in July and are usually available to pupils at the start of the new school year either free or heavily discounted to raise funds.
Some parents also find hand-me-downs from mums and dads of older kids on local Facebook or WhatsApp groups.
Free sites such as Freecycle, Gumtree Free Stuff and nextdoor.com often have uniforms and sports kit on offer to the first bidder, so keep looking each day.
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