How to get a Refund from a Company Who Refuse to.
Not the most eyecatching title for a blog but I feel this blog is good advice. It is inspired by a fight I have had with a company which I'll not name over a small amount of money they had no right to debit my bank account. In my case I won yet received no apology. It is mainly aimed at British people but I'm sure you can adapt it for your own country.
Most of I us I suspect have been in this situation where you have dispensed of company's service for whatever reason yet they feel they can still debit your bank account for a service you do not want. Despite your protestations they use every trick in the book to get out of returning your money.
Unfortunately I'm not talking just about cowboy outfits but also large and supposedly reputable companies.
First a little about British contract law. This is important as it will base your case against the company you are taking on. I've written it in a basic form as contract law is very complicated although well defined.
We all are involved in contracts from an early age. From buying sweets in the sweet shop as children to mortgages when we are older. Most are very simple. You go to the shop choose a product on offer, pay the agreed price (normally on the price tag) and take away your purchase and the contract is complete. Other times like a mortgage it is more complicated.
A contract has two parts an offer (by the offerer) and an acceptance (by the offeree). An offer is normally in the form of goods or services by a company for a set price. The acceptance is where the offeree accepts the terms of the contract. For the acceptance to be legal the offeree must understand the terms of the contract and be in a fit state of mind which means the contract must be clear and easily accessible and the person must not be underage, drunk, on drugs or be mentally disabled.
Offer and acceptance are broken in to definitions but I won't be talking about them in this blog.
Contract termination is.
1. the death of the offerer and offeree.
2. Lapse of time - as in the end of a fixed term contract like a mortgage or mobile phone.
If the contract termination meet these terms the contract termination is legal.
Getting your refund
To get your refund you must follow the following procedure:
1. Contact the company
This would be going to the place of business, making a phone or sending an email or letter. This could involve talking to a customer service department. You should explain why you should get a refund. You may have to argue your case if they at first refuse and you should give them every opportunity to agree to a refund. Inform them that they are in breach of contract and the next steps you will take if you do not receive your refund if you do not get a satisfactory response after a number of tries.
2. Send a recorded delivery letter
If you feel you are getting nowhere with talking to the company you should send a letter by recorded delivery addressed to To Whom it may Concern and titled Breach of Contract. In your letter you should state that they are in breach of contact and outline the reasons why. Also state that steps you will take if you do not receive your refund before a fixed date. Most complaints do not go further than this.
3. Report the company to their industry ombudsman
The a number of industries have an ombudsman to resolve disputes between a consumer and their member company as a third party. In some cases membership is compulsory and others it is optional. The ombudsman is the self policing by an industry so the industry is not brought into disrepute by one its members.
4. Take the company to court
If all else fails you will have to take the company to court. For disputes of up to a few thousand pounds you will go to the small claims court. For more than a few thousand pounds you should seek legal advice.
How to improve your chances of success
There are a number things you can do to improve your chances of success:
1. Be sure of your ground
Make sure you have a reason for your complaint otherwise you will go through a long drawn out and stressful process and end up without your refund and egg on your face.
2. Be polite and reasonable
As frustrating the experience maybe don't lose your temper or make unreasonable demands. Be polite and set deadlines that the company can realistically meet.
3. Collocate evidence
If you can prove what you are saying then you will always win. This can You can prove that the contract was no longer valid by producing the contract and that they are still debiting you bank account by producing your bank statements.
4. Keep copies of all letters, emails and keep a log of any telephone calls
This way you can keep track of what the company said and what you have said. If you communicate with a company for long enough they will trip up especially if they are in the wrong. Also to keep track of what you have said so you don't give them leverage against you.
5. Demand evidence of the contract from the company
Put the onus on them. Demand that they justify their position. Companies hate this especially if they know that they are in the wrong as they can't justify their position. What they want is for you to go away.
6. Don't be fobbed off
To get rid of you they will give you a small amount of what you demand. Do not accept this, demand the full amount.
7. Email the company's chief executive
Chief executives do no not what to hear from customers, its not their job to deal with customers. If they do they will make their staff deal with you properly or pass it to a member of their executive team. Your complaint may not get resolved straight away but at least you will get the wheels moving.
8. Don't waiver
You are in the right and they are in the wrong. Don't accept anything less than what you are owed no matter how long it takes.
9. Don't expect an apology
You probably won't get it even though you deserve it.
Here are a few useful government contacts you can go to for advice regarding your rights as a consumer and if you have a cause for a complaint:
1. You can call the Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or go to their website http://www.directgov.co.uk. In my experience they were very helpful.
2. Go to the Trading Standards website http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/index.cfm to find out how to contact your local trading standards office.
3. Go the the website of the Office of Fair trading on http://www.oft.gov.uk for consumer advice.
4. You can also go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
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