8th July 2024

Help is at hand for UK consumers

The UK International Consumer Centre continues to assist UK consumers in resolving disputes with overseas businesses, as illustrated by some recent success stories.


By Juanita Headley
Consumer Advisor, UK International Consumer Centre
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With a 17-year history, the UKICC is still standing strong

As the world continues to rebuild in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, there have been great shifts in the way consumers buy and traders sell. Never before has it been so easy to purchase food, clothing, electronics and digital content with just the click of a button from the comfort of one’s own home. In fact, nowadays the availability and accessibility of goods and services knows no bounds, which unfortunately has its downside — namely the ever-evolving rise in scams and counterfeit goods.

The good thing to note however, is that help is at hand from Emmanuella, Afzal, Harry, Patrick, Lauren, Beth and myself at the UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC). Our dedicated and hardworking team of legal minds has the drive, determination and commitment to fight on behalf of consumers.

With a 17-year history, the UKICC is still standing strong despite changes in government, Brexit, and recent organisational restructures. There’s now even more good news as the UKICC recently relaunched its phone service, enabling consumers to have their queries more quickly resolved by phone rather than just via email.

The UKICC is making a difference, whether that’s through a consumer’s use of template letters, web advice, email support or phone consultations.

Travel disputes

One consumer who was helped by the UKICC was C. She purchased flights directly from an airline, received her e-tickets and was eagerly awaiting her departure. To her dismay, however, the flight was cancelled, and her trip postponed.

C contacted the airline to request compensation and a refund of her ticket; however when six months later she had yet to be reimbursed, C contacted the UKICC to request our intervention. C understood that we are not an enforcement agency and that although there are limitations on the scope of our service, we could still provide a degree of mediation by contacting the airline on her behalf.

Consequently, a short while after we contacted the airline, we were thrilled to inform C that the six-month wait was finally over as the airline had agreed to refund the cost of her ticket and compensate her for the flight cancellation.

In another success story, a different  consumer, E, was emailed a few days before her flight and offered a complimentary helicopter ride from the airport to the city. Prior to her return trip she contacted the helicopter company and the airline to request another complimentary flight. Her request was denied; however, E was informed by the helicopter company that she could get another helicopter ride on her next trip.

E emailed the helicopter company four months before her next trip to request a helicopter. Her request was denied, and she was directed to the airline, which also denied her request.

Two weeks before her upcoming trip E contacted the airline through its online chat platform and was informed that as she was not a loyalty member she was ineligible for a helicopter ride — she was also told that she should not have been offered a ride previously, and that it had not been a system error.

Unwilling to settle for the airline’s lack of explanation — or its denial that E was ever on board a helicopter — she contacted the helicopter company again, after speaking to the UKICC, and informed them that one of their employees had promised her a helicopter ride and that the airline had not honoured this. Her persistence paid off and the helicopter company informed her that although the airline was no longer offering the complimentary helicopter ride, they would make an exception and book her a flight.

Vehicles, burgers and online courses
Another consumer, B, had booked a motor home for a week’s hire period during the summer. Two days before the end of the hire period, whilst B was attending an event, he witnessed another driver cause scratches to the side of his rental vehicle.

B immediately informed the rental company, completed all the relevant forms, and returned the motor home, knowing that the other driver was responsible for the damage and had liability assurance.

When the rental company failed to return B’s deposit, he contacted the UKICC. We contacted the rental company and within nine days B was fully refunded.

When M found a hair inside a burger from a well-known fast-food chain, she immediately contacted both the company and an Environmental Health officer following advice from the UKICC. The chain wrote to M offering a £10 voucher for her next order which she declined, requesting £50 instead — and the company agreed to honour her request.

In another case, J had used multiple credit cards to pay for a one-week training course. Although she was already an expert in the subject matter that was being taught, she wanted accreditation which the course was offering. Due to lockdown restrictions the course went ahead remotely.

However, to J’s disappointment and despite all that was advertised, there were not multiple trainers, the course content was basic, and the promised certificate was never awarded.

J requested a full refund from the educational establishment and the three credit card companies. Two of the three creditors worked with J to get a refund; however the third company sent J on a wild goose chase, giving misinformation and eventually denying her claim.

One and a half years later with the use of a template letter, a deadline of seven days and the ‘threat’ of further legal action, J received a refund for the third payment directly from the educational establishment itself without the help of the third creditor.

These are just a few of our many success stories. Whether it was direct involvement in a case by speaking to a trader, providing advice or guidance, empowering a consumer concerning their legal rights, or the self-help material and templates on our website, the UKICC continues to be a great source of help, with legal advisors available to respond to consumers’ letters, emails, and phone calls between the hours of 10am-4pm Monday-Friday.

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