Life’s little niggles can be annoying enough – but what happens if you keep being fobbed off? Don’t lose heart, perseverance can pay off and sometimes knowledge of your rights can be all the weaponry you need.
Working in Which?’s Consumer Rights team, I often hear stories of people being fobbed off by companies when they’re in the right. But sometimes it can be difficult to know whether you actually are in the right, or whether you’re fighting a losing battle.
Our Consumer Rights site (which is celebrating its first birthday!) is a good place to start and will help make companies sit up and take notice. All well and good I hear you say – but does it actually work? Do not worry fellow consumer, the following stories should help you realise why being pushy can pay off.
Faulty goods fob-off
My colleague Eleanor Snow has passed her passion for consumer rights to her friends:
‘My friend, who bought a beaded-wire washing basket, complained after her clothes were left permanently stained by rust after some of the beading came off. She initially got a poor response over the phone, but after writing to the head of customer services they sent her a cheque to cover the cost of replacing the damaged clothes and basket, plus compensation for the hassle!’
I also asked our Queen of Complaints, Ingrid Stone, for her best tale of perseverance:
‘A good example of perseverance is when my Sony television went on the blink, just days after the warranty expired. My husband contacted the customer services department and the compensation they offered barely covered the teeniest bit on the repair bill. So I wrote to the managing director, and soon after we received a cheque reimbursing us for the full £350 repair.’
Parking ticket palaver
It’s more important than ever to keep on top of your rights, as our latest research finds nearly half of online shoppers have experienced a problem with their purchase over the last two years, with 13% being lumbered with faulty or damaged goods.
But faulty goods aren’t the only area for frustrating fob-offs, as our Consumer Rights Editor Amanda Diamond will tell you:
‘I recently received a parking ticket while parked outside my own home because my annual permit – which I’ve dutifully bought every year for the last six years – expired. I usually get a notification from the council alerting me to the fact that my permit’s due to expire, but this year they failed to send one out.
‘I appealed the ticket – with a strongly-worded letter – but my appeal was rejected. I was furious, but I didn’t give up. I made a second appeal and pointed out my intention to refer my appeal to the parking adjudicator. My appeal was upheld and I saved myself £65 – result!’
Do our tales of perseverance make you want to stand up for your rights? Have you any tales of success, or have you been fobbed off by a wily company?
Want more? Listen to our one-off Consumer Rights podcast, starring all of us, Ingrid and Which? Conversation’s very own Patrick Steen.