A challenging year for us all

2019 was a particularly challenging year. A backdrop of Brexit meant that UK consumers continued to want the reassurance of the support and mediation provided by a specialist service such as ours. It meant that the intervention and case handling we provided was perhaps more important than ever for them as they saw the UK move into a future outside the EU.

Transport topped the charts in the breakdown of UK consumer cases dealt with by the UK ECC that year, accounting for 26% of the total number of complaints and questions handled. The concentration of cases in this category was, and still is, explained by UK residents’ continued love affair with travelling abroad.

Looking more closely at the transport cases, just over 41% of these related to air travel (including passenger transport and luggage transport).

Specific problems within the passenger transport by air category cover a broad range of complaints, spanning ticket problems (maybe arising from technical issues during the booking process or with online check-in), flight delays or denied boarding. Ticket problems could include, for example, mistakes, payment-related fees, extras and currency conversation charges.

2019 was a year where air travel moved even more sharply into focus, with the collapse of a number of airlines, bringing with it a lot of frustration for UK consumers who either found themselves stranded or no longer able to take up their booked flights.

We issued advice via the media to UK holidaymakers affected by the collapse of airlines such as Flybmi (a British regional airline that operated across the UK and Europe) and Wow Air, the Icelandic low-cost carrier which operated between North America and Europe (with stops in Reykjavik), and then proceeded to deal with calls from UK consumers affected by these collapses.

2019 also saw significant staff changes at the UK ECC, largely because of Brexit uncertainty. Staff turnover saw two new consumer advisors join the centre: Clever Muringi and Danielle Cook.

Clever has a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe and is also a qualified lawyer recognised as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe and a solicitor in England and Wales. Before joining the UK ECC, Clever had more than 10 years’ experience of private legal practice, with the main focus on non-contentious advisory and dispute resolution work.

Danielle has a law degree with a legal practice specialisation from Birmingham City University. Before she joined the UK ECC, she worked in a local non-profit organisation, assisting vulnerable residents with a variety of legal issues. Danielle has over 10 years of direct consumer-facing experience, and enjoyed a successful period of self-employment in this area, whilst raising a family, before a full-time return to the legal field in 2019.

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