It’s hard knowing what the ‘right thing to do’ is sometimes. Never before have so many people been under such restrictions, health fears and financial pressures.
The situation with the coronavirus/COVID-19 has left millions of people waiting in call centre queues and trying to contact businesses through their websites and social media pages. Perhaps inevitably, in the last few weeks I’ve been inundated with questions from people concerned about everything from travel refunds to Universal Credit.
Resolver was created to help bring people and businesses together, so complaints could be sorted out quickly and easily with the minimum of hassle. In the coming weeks, it’ll be more important than ever for this to happen. But the impact of the coronavirus has meant that businesses are under huge strains – and many may not survive the pandemic.
So how do we strike the balance between seeking help and exacerbating the problem? What’s the best way to stand up for your rights while helping businesses survive and keeping the economy going?
Here are a few tips.
Be reasonable, be patient and be polite.
Most of the problems I’m being contacted about fall into two categories. Things that are urgent and things that can wait a little longer. Urgent complaints involve imminent events, immediate losses of money and, of course, financial difficulties, health concerns and anything that might affect the vital necessities of life.
There’s no easy solution to urgent problems. Many call centres are overwhelmed and the demand for some services, like benefits, are likely to be huge for a prolonged period. Try to be patient and hold on in there – don’t give up.
Giving priority to people who need urgent help is the right thing to do. But other things, like complaints, upcoming events that might result in losses (future holidays, incorrect bills, potential money problems) can still be tackled. Why not take a moment to write up your complaint or comments now? Stick to simple bullet points. Make it clear what you want to resolve the problem. Photo documents and take screenshots to support your argument.
You can hold fire on sending this information for a short while if you like, or send it to the firm but explain that you understand it may take longer to address than usual. Acknowledging the pressures that people working for businesses, Government bodies and other organisations are under really does help.
If there’s a clock ticking for when you need a resolution, explain when the deadline is and why. You can use Resolver to help put your complaint together, even if the firm isn’t taking complaints at the moment.
As millions of people get used to the idea of working from home or self-isolating, we’ve noticed a big spike in people asking about budgeting, saving, switching and sorting out the finances.
I’d strongly recommend doing this. Even if you only give it 30 minutes, it will really help you seize control and get back on track.
We’ve got loads of tips and advice to help you with budgeting, making savings, claiming back cash and switching to new providers of services on our site (links to articles). Again though, take this time to sort out your finances and give the businesses a bit of time to respond if you’re asking them to provide refunds or investigate errors.
The coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way we live, spend, work and interact drastically – possibly permanently. While the old rules, regulations and laws remain in place, it’s time for us and the businesses we use to compromise where possible if we’re going to keep the economy going and help key service providers stay in business.
When things go wrong it’s natural to insist on refunds for upcoming services that you’ve paid for already, in full or in part. But wherever you can, commit to spending with the business in the future. You can do this by moving holiday bookings forward in time, for example, or by keeping memberships and subscriptions going. Businesses can keep trading if they can see they still have business down the line. You might not care too much about the megabucks international holiday company, but that hotel you booked on their site will have employees, entertainers, caters, drivers and more, all reliant on future trade.
Bear in mind though that no one can guarantee if a firm will stay in business. There is still a risk to your money if a firm goes under.
It’s all well and good saying this, but many people are facing uncertain financial times. So don’t feel guilty if you can’t afford to rebook or risk your cash. Refunds depend on the contracts you signed up to. Resolver has provided guidance for a number of sectors, but if you’re being refused a refund, ask the firm to send you the T&C’s with the refund policy highlighted. If you think the contract is unfair, unclear or wasn’t given to you, then you have the right to make a complaint.
From pubs that are reinventing themselves as takeouts to your local off license that’s proved a life saver for groceries, keep the firms and organisations that are most at risk in business if you can. Stay loyal, even after the pandemic peaks.
Imagine eight hours of being shouted at non-stop by angry people, frustrated at a three hour wait on the phone. Even if you do get through to someone who is potentially in a position to help you, you might not hear what you want or need from them. Stay calm, remember there’s a person like you on the end of the line who needs a bit of support too. Ask them to talk you through your options, get the details of the person and find out about how you can appeal if you’re unhappy with the proposals. But most of all, acknowledge that they’re doing a difficult job under awful circumstances. It really will go a long way towards making their day.
Being reasonable, allowing vulnerable people or those experiencing financial difficulties to get priority treatment and holding fire on complaints doesn’t mean you’re ‘giving up’. It just means you’re doing the right thing.
Resolver will continue to get your voice heard whenever you need us. We provide tips, guidance and advice so you know where to turn and what your rights are. But don’t give up if you’ve been treated unfairly.