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Jersey Consumer Council

Consumer News

Holiday Booking Check list

December 19, 2017 Insurances, Travel and Transport No Comments

We all look forward to our holidays, and often they can cost a considerable amount of money; the Consumer Council has compiled a holiday booking check list, to keep you and your holiday booking safe;

 

Financial Protection for your Holiday

Before booking you should check whether your flight or holiday package is ATOL protected and don’t leave home without your ATOL Certificate

  • ATOL (the Air Travel Organisers Licence) is a financial protection scheme for air passengers. If you book an ATOL protected holiday or charter flight and your tour operator, airline or accommodation provider goes out of business before you travel you can claim a full refund.
  • If a service provider goes out of business while you are abroad, you will be able to continue your holiday and arrangements will be made for you to fly home once the holiday is over.
  • Jersey residents must be aware that ATOL only protects packages or flights, which originate in the UK ñ always check with your tour company/travel agent regarding ATOL protection and eligibility.

 

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) Protection

  • Many Jersey residents will enjoy the FlyDirect options (and ferry packages) now available from Jersey; it should be noted that these are not eligible for ATOL protection (as described above).
  • However, such packages and flights would be financially protected as long as the company with whom you make your travel contract in Jersey is bonded with ABTA (and they are current members).
  • ABTA includes protection both in the event of failure of the tour operator prior to departure, in which case deposit/balances paid would be refunded, and for repatriation in the event of tour operator failure whilst clients are abroad.

 

Financial protection if you are not covered by ATOL

 

o    If your flight is not ATOL protected, you should ensure your travel insurance policy provides cover in the event that the airline goes out of business. Take out travel insurance adequate for your destination, activities and everyone in your party.

o    If you buy a ticket using a credit card and the airline goes out of business, you may be able to claim a refund from your credit card company under the Consumer Credit Act. The cost of a single (i.e. one leg) ticket must be at least £100.

 

 Other Holiday booking pointers;

  • Double check all details such as travel dates, itineraries, destinations and travellers before confirming payment, as you may be charged for amendments
  • Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognise.
  • If renting a private apartment or villa, call the owner/agent directly to ensure that it is legitimate. If the number is not provided, email and request it. Check reviews on TripAdvisor or similar site. Get the full address of the property and find it on Google maps to check its location and legitimacy.
  • Ensure that any holiday or travel company unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them online. Ensure that they are a member of a recognised travel authority which offers financial protection and a complaints service.
  • When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.

Travel Insurance:

Put your travel insurance in place sufficiently ahead of your trip to make sure that you benefit from all of the cover. Channel Islanders are advised to make sure that the element covering missed flights and missed connections includes the flights to and from home.

The medical cover needs to be adequate to help pay medical bills; £2 million medical cover is advised by Which for just Europe and £5 million for worldwide. but do check what counts as Europe or Worldwide by your insurance company.

We usually travel with many of our gadgets and you should consider cover for these too whilst traveling, you may need to extend your home insurance to cover as single items on your travel policy may only be covered for £250.

A good travel insurance policy should provide cover for Illness, injury or death while you are away,  to allow you to be repatriated. Illness or the unexpected can interrupt travel plans therefore it is advisable to check the cancellation provisions – how much are you covered for in the event of the holiday being cancelled by unexpected events e.g. illness. You must declare pre-existing medical conditions – as otherwise your cover will be voided.

Check that the policy covers

  • Liability for accidents involving others;
  • The airline going out of business;
  • Natural disasters, natural events e.g. volcanic ash cloud and severe weather;
  • Political instability;
  • Security risks.

If you plan to enjoy risky activities whilst away you should say so to make sure that you are covered for risky activities, for example skiing, scuba diving or climbing.

And finally you may be better to buy an annual policy rather than single trip cover plus READ THE SMALL PRINT…always check what isn’t covered.

Happy  Holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 


Your rights in a Sale!

December 18, 2017 Consumer Skills, Money Matters No Comments
One of the biggest myths is that you can’t return faulty goods in a sale. This is simply untrue. Your statutory rights still apply so if your sale goods are faulty or not as described, you are entitled to your money back. There is an exception to this rule. If goods are ‘shop soiled’ and the damage is clearly visible or brought to your attention, you don’t then have a right to return them for that particular fault.
If you want to return sale goods because you have changed your mind, if you bought them on the high street you have no statutory rights therefore have to rely on the shop policy. This may mean they won’t accept sale returns or they may restrict you to exchanges or credit notes.
The situation is different if you purchased sale goods online. In most cases you have cancellation rights, but you will have to be quick as time limits apply. You usually have to pay the postage and packaging for   return. There are some exceptions including perishable or personalised goods. If you are unsure, give Trading Standards a call on 448160.
Finally, sales should be genuine. Traders should not make false claims about savings, have permanent sales or make comparisons to prices that weren’t the last price the goods were on offer at. Whilst there are currently no regulations in Jersey to investigate these sorts of unfair practices, this situation is likely to change. Our advice is follow Martin Lewis’s mantra. Do I need it, can I afford it, will I use it, is it worth it?

Seeking a New Chairperson

December 14, 2017 Uncategorized No Comments

Seeking a New Chairperson

The Jersey Consumer Council seeks an exceptional and experienced
candidate for the position of Chairperson. As a high-profile consumer
champion, the Chairperson will have:

  • Expertise in relevant and current consumer issues
  • Political awareness on consumer issues
  • Excellent communication and social skills to engage with stakeholders,
    government and the media, as well as the community
  • Time to commit around 12 hours a month
  • A strong consumer voice to empower individuals

The day-to-day Council activities are managed by the Executive Officer with
the Chairperson undertaking a strategic and active role.

For more information, on a confidential basis, please contact the Executive
Officer (see below). To apply please email or send your curriculum vitae and
supporting letter marked Private and Confidential, by 5th January 2018 to.

Executive Officer
Jersey Consumer Council
9-13 Central Market
St. Helier JE2 4WL

T E L : 01 5 3 4 6 1 1 1 6 1
E : R E C R U I T M E N T @ J E R S E Y C O N S U M E R C O U N C I L . O R G . J E


Dec 2017 Edtn 85 JCC Newsletter

December 4, 2017 Newsletters No Comments

Newsletter Out Monday 4th December

As the Festive season begins to gather momentum we pause for a moment to consider Preventing Financial Pressure at Christmas.

It’s easy to get carried away spending at Christmas, however we are suggesting that in the flurry of preparations and parties we all stop, reflect and consider a few pointers to clarify our Christmas shopping to help prevent financial pressure. Our newsletter shares 6 simple pause buttons.

Christmas is a time of celebration, you don’t want it to be a time when you set yourself up with money headaches for next year.

Our December newsletter launches:

“Consumer Action is a Powerful Force”

It’s time to recognise that the Jersey consumer is a powerful force that is coming to the fore, have you joined this wave of change?

Interestingly the vast majority of online consumers are more than happy to vote with a click of their finger if dissatisfied.  It would seem that Jersey consumers are now prepared to vote with their feet when in retail shops and gaining a similar experience on price or service.

Our festive issue showcases the simple toolkit to support you in your purchasing routine.

A Real Mixed ‘Fruit’ Festive Cake Tasting

Mince Pies in 2015, Christmas Puddings 2016 and for 2017 we put the ‘Iced Fruit Bar’ to the blind tasting test.

lovely rich spice and alcohol aroma’

‘almond taste throughout’

‘a little dry and crumbly’

‘tasty’

‘high fruit comment’

’loved the cherries’

‘not much marzipan’

Will you agree with our blind taste testing?

This edition also questions Meal Deals and what’s in the deal?

Meal deals are designed to offer a quick way to grab a full lunch with a main, a snack and a drink. However, there must be an art to understanding the offerings. Are you a meal deal expert or are the deals baffling to you too?

We have an exciting range of lunchtime talks on offer – from staying injury free on the ski slopes to wills, inheritance, scams, pensions & the new Lasting Powers of Attorney and Advance Decision Making Law …

View talks

Read more…


Overbooking & Air Travel

December 1, 2017 Travel and Transport No Comments

Overbooking

We have all seen startling footage this summer on national TV of a passenger being forcibly removed from an American flight because of overbooking. Naturally the impact of overbooking is not usually this physical. But this does make you wonder if and why airlines over book?

Our research has revealed that most airlines overbook certain flights. We asked several of our carriers why they overbook and easyJet explained that around three million easyJet customers each year don’t show up for their flights and if these seats were left empty, it would force up prices for everyone else. BUT the passengers have already paid for their seats so why does it matter? Upon investigation this is because in the first instance revenue is reduced as the empty seat doesn’t buy on board refreshments. Airlines sell a proportion of certain seats on certain routes and flights at certain times more than once to ensure that revenue is earned in order to sustain the lower ticket prices many of us enjoy today.

easyJet said that ‘they get it right in around 97% of cases, meaning that many tens of thousands of customers who want to fly, get to do so. In only a very small proportion of cases – a tiny fraction of less than 1% – will a customer be denied boarding’ as a result of over booking. easyJet highlighted that very few passengers who do not intend to travel with them actually cancel their flights.

Some passengers may be denied boarding as there may also be occasions where, due to unforeseen circumstances such as disruption on an earlier flight operated, technical problems, etc., that the airline needs to make a change to the aircraft type which is operating a specific route. This might mean that a smaller aircraft is substituted than originally planned, which may lead to a shortage of seats.

How do airlines decide which routes and journey’s to overbook?
When overbooking a flight airlines target those flights with a consistent history of no-shows and then overbook them by a small number where they they can confidently predict everyone who wants to fly should be able to do so.

Flybe explained that they ‘carry 8-million passengers a year flying and on average operates some 520 flights a day. Like all other airlines, Flybe carefully manages each flight by employing in-depth statistical analysis to ensure that each departure is as commercially viable as possible. This is to ensure the lowest possible fares are always available to its customers whilst at the same time being confident there is only ever a very small risk that a passenger would be denied boarding. This is primarily employed on multi-frequency routes where historically it is shown there is a consistent percentage of no-shows’

What simple measures can the passenger take to reduce the risk of being denied boarding as a direct result of overbooking?

  • In the first instance check in on line at the earliest opportunity; this confirms to the airline that you intend to travel as booked, so that airlines can more accurately understand whether they still have seats which are available for other customers who may not yet have made their reservations.
  • If you are denied boarding as a result of overbooking – negotiate, without being greedy. Establish accommodation needs if appropriate, refreshment allowance. Also ask when the next available flight to your destination is due to depart by any airline not just by the one who has denied you boarding and request if you can be allocated a seat on this flight.
  • Remain calm and reasonable


Read the full report here

What does the EU Directive have to say on the matter?

In the rare cases where a passenger may be offloaded, airlines should take their responsibilities very seriously, fully understanding how frustrating and inconvenient the situation is.

Compensation must be paid in line with EU261 – typically within 5 working days – as well as dealing with their immediate requirements at the airport. The Consumer Council have published a Plane Facts guide to help navigate you through your rights when flying

The booklet details the ‘Denied boarding’ process;
When an airline has overbooked a flight they must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats before passengers are denied boarding.

If you volunteer to give up your seat:
  1. You must be provided with compensation, either cash or airline vouchers. The level of compensation must be agreed with you.
  2. If you decide to continue your journey, the airline must also book you onto an alternative flight. If the airline cannot fly you to your intended airport, it is allowed to fly you to another airport within the same region. The airline must then transfer you to either your intended airport or a close by location agreed with you.
  3. If you decide not to continue your journey the airline must refund your ticket and give you a flight back to the original point of departure if relevant. Refunds should be provided by the airline within seven days. If an insufficient number of passengers volunteer to give up their seats, the airline will deny boarding to a number of passengers
If the airline denies you boarding:
  1. You are entitled to immediate compensation. (Please see table 2 on page 20 for compensation rates in Plane Facts).
  2. You are also entitled to the same option of a refund or alternative travel arrangements offered to passengers who volunteer to give up their seats.
  3. If the airline cannot fly you to your intended airport, it is allowed to fly you to another airport within the same region. The airline must then transfer you to either your intended airport or a close by location, agreed with you.

Compensation and assistance will not be provided to passengers who are denied boarding because they are deemed unfit to travel by the airline, for example if you are intoxicated, or abusive etc.

Airlines regularly review their overbooking methodology to make it more accurate and do everything we can to minimise the number of people who are affected, whilst optimising the yield from the fare levels at which they sell.


Toasting The Festive Season

November 30, 2017 Christmas Top Tips, Consumer Skills No Comments

Picture the Scene ..the Christmas Jingles playing in the background, puddings set a blaze, friends exchanging small gifts and toasting the festive season and then the restaurant bill arrives.

Now you have additional food for thought, where did the service charge on the alcoholic drinks appear from? Is this allowed?

Much to my relief one of my friends works for the Jersey Consumer Council and came to my rescue – apparently this is ok if the restaurant or hotel or bar clearly advertises outside of the premises that they will add a service charge to drinks.

My dining friend explained that under the Licensing (Jersey) Law 1974 Restaurants are obliged to display a list of the prices charged for intoxicating liquor and for meals and refreshments other than intoxicating liquor. It is an offence to charge a higher price than the price displayed.

She explained to me that if a 10% service charge is applied and this is consistent with the displayed pricelists inside and outside of the premises (and any menus) this would be acceptable. However, if this additional charge was not displayed and the premises still added 10% at the end of the meal, they would likely be committing an offence.

BUT she strongly recommended that in the first instance if you feel that a service charge has been incorrectly added to your bill or that you receive and can show the poor service – ask the staff at the time for clarification. If the additional charges are not advertised as above you are NOT required to pay them.

Jersey Consumer Council – helping you make informed choices


Consumer Action is a Powerful Force

November 30, 2017 Consumer Skills No Comments

Consumer Action is a Powerful Force

It’s time to recognise that the Jersey consumer is a powerful force that is coming to the fore, have you joined this wave of change?

Interestingly the vast majority of online consumers are more than happy to vote with a click of their finger if dissatisfied. It would seem that Jersey consumers are now prepared to vote with their feet when in retail shops and gaining a similar experience on price or service.

By flexing your demands and voting with your feet (not just your finger), you too can impact the future strategies of a local business. Remember that if you’re not completely satisfied, you can always find other retail outlets for procure your products or services.

Where to start

We have created a simple toolkit to support you in your purchasing routine:

1 Research:
Many of you will have a vague idea of the likely costs of an item/service, if not, check online so you’re prepared. You make have questions you’d like to ask about a specific product.

2 Price check:
a.If time allows, visit several retail shops to experience the customer service quality and pricing strategy, and/or

b. If you’ve purchased the item or service before – check how it differs now.

3 Customer Service

were you acknowledged by staff and was help offered?

4 Communicate:

Those working in customer service are typically only too willing to help. If you believe that an item/service is positioned above market value ask why. There will be an explanation to balance your opinion. At certain times of the year there maybe sales / promotional offers / added-value offerings, ask when this might be.

5 Inform:

Keep the Jersey Consumer Council informed. We’re marking now until 31st January, ‘The Consumer – Your Vote’ campaign. Share your experiences with us, your successes in discussing prices, service, changing minds, policies and practices.

We look forward to learning more about your experiences and sharing more successes on:www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je – see what we’re up to and join in.


Preventing financial pressure at Christmas

November 30, 2017 Christmas Top Tips, Money Matters No Comments

Preventing financial pressure at Christmas

It’s easy to get carried away spending at Christmas. Here are a few things to consider when Christmas shopping.

Buying out of habit

Always bought for a particular person but don’t even see them much nowadays. Be brave, suggest you both stop. They will probably be relieved.

Buying because they bought you a present

If someone chooses to buy you a present, that’s their decision. Thank them. But it doesn’t mean you have to buy in return.

Buying because you feel obliged to

Your siblings are having children and the family is expanding. You can opt out. Remember those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Buying out of guilt

Are you trying to make up for something you did or didn’t do? Buying stuff doesn’t help you or the other person. You need to let go of guilt and if you want to make amends, do so in other ways.

You want to be liked or feel the need to tell others how much you have spent on presents. This doesn’t work. You need to uncover why your self-esteem is low & transform it.

Pressure

You feel the need to ‘protect’ your children by buying the same things as their friends. Have honest money conversations. Can you part-contribute & they come up with ideas to make up the difference?

Once you have your list set your budget for each person and stick to it. Get creative and your ‘genius’ ideas flowing.

Christmas is a time of celebration, you don’t want it to be a time when you set yourself up with money headaches for next year.

Michele Ivory

Rapid Transformational Therapist

www.micheleivory.com


‘Fruit’ Festive Cake Tasting

November 29, 2017 Christmas Top Tips, Money Matters No Comments

A Real Mixed ‘Fruit’ Festive Cake Tasting

Mince Pies in 2015, Christmas Puddings 2016 and for 2017 we put the ‘Iced Fruit Bar’ to the blind tasting test. An Iced fruit bar is a big slice of Christmas cake topped with icing. We recruited taste testers from Citizens Advice Jersey, Trading Standards, the Channel Island Competition and Regulatory Authorities and 4insight. It should be noted that our tester from Trading Standards was an entrant to the Great British Bake off 2015 – he knows his fruit cakes. Our 5 testers each tester could award a maximum of 25 points per cake, covering aroma, fruit content, texture, appearance and richness; our testers scored the M&S’s Classic Recipe Top Iced Bar Christmas Cake as their favourite but a very close challenger was Tesco’s Iced Rich Fruit Cake

Detailed below are the scores from the ‘blind’ tasting. Now it is your turn to see if you agree with our testers!

Please note that we had to carry out our taste testing late November to meet our publication schedule; we are mindful that the full selection of Christmas cakes may not have been available at this time.

A few of our tasters’ comments; ‘lovely rich spice and alcohol aroma’ ‘almond taste throughout’ ‘a little dry and crumbly’ ‘tasty’ ‘high fruit comment’ ’loved the cherries’ ‘not much marzipan’


Who is CICRA and what does it do?

October 27, 2017 Home life, Money Matters, Telecommunications No Comments

CICRA (the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities) is the independent organisation working on your behalf to ensure you receive the best value, choice and access to high quality services but what does that mean in practice for you, the consumer?

Over a series of articles, we will explain a bit more about CICRA’s role across the Channel Islands and particularly here in Jersey.

CICRA is one of several local organisations, including Trading Standards, Citizens Advice and the Jersey Consumer Council, that work to inform and protect the rights of islanders. As individual organisations we are relatively small but in partnership we support each other to ensure the best outcomes for you.

CICRA regulates the telecoms sector, Jersey Post and Ports of Jersey (the airport, harbour and marinas) and is responsible for administering and enforcing the local competition law

CICRA informs–

CICRA provides the information you need to make important purchasing decisions.

We publish telecoms customer satisfaction ratings and undertake independent mystery shopping surveys on the different telecoms providers. We’ll shortly be publishing the results of the first ever check on local mobile coverage as well as the results of the latest mobile mast emissions audit. We’re looking at quality of service delivered by Ports of Jersey at the airport, harbour and marinas and will be reporting on that later this year.

We involve government and local interest groups when changes to policy or law should be considered; for example our work on reviewing the supply of road fuel in Jersey led to a change in the law to require prices to be visibly displayed from the roadside at all outlets ensuring you are in a position to be fully informed and to shop around.

CICRA protects–

CICRA protects local business and consumers from anticompetitive behaviour by enforcing competition law.

We watch out for any businesses potentially causing consumer harm. This may be price fixing between competitors or   unfairly obstructing other providers from serving you. The competition law spans all business sectors and not just those we regulate.

For the telecoms sector, Jersey Post and Ports of Jersey, we have a more active role in setting ‘the rules’ by which the businesses operate as we licence these businesses. We can set prices, quality of service targets and hold these businesses to account when things go wrong – all to ensure that the interests of fair dealing businesses and local consumers are protected. For example, we’ve recently required JT to reduce its landline prices by 13% over the next two years and we’re keeping a closer watch on Jersey Post quality of service after it experienced a dip in performance.

We can prevent or amend proposed mergers and acquisitions where there would be a detrimental impact on choice locally. Recently we made sure Sandpiper’s acquisition of the Costcutter shops was modified to protect consumer choice in St Ouen, St John and Green Island.

While we are able to resolve most issues informally sometimes this is not possible; we have the power to mandate changes and to issue fines. This is very much a last resort. We’ve fined the States of Jersey for breaching the law after it created a monopoly for itself in the emptying of septic and tight tanks by restricting access to another business, Bellozane from operating in the same sector. We’ve also fined JT when it tried to fix the minimum selling price of its pay-as-you-go SIM packs.

CICRA needs to ensure it continues to focus on what is important to you as a local consumer. We’re very grateful for the help provided by islanders recently, through participation in our annual telecoms satisfaction surveys and our focus groups discussing the quality of service provided by Ports of Jersey.

In the next article we will explain in more detail CICRA’s role with the harbour, airport and marinas in Jersey.