Questions of Cash – May 2016

Q. My partner and I booked return flights to Rome with BA and pre-paid for seats to guarantee that we could sit together.  When we arrived at the gate for the outbound flight I was told that I had been moved from 14C – the pre-booked seat – to 28C.  I find flying stressful and this made the experience much more stressful. The cabin crew dealt with this very professionally and asked the passenger in 28B to move so that my partner could sit next to me.  We were told that BA would make a refund if we applied.  On returning to London I contacted BA.  I received an initial email allocating a case number and stating that it was ‘taking longer than we’d like to reply to all our customers’.  A few days later I received a second email asking me to complete, and submit, a claim form, which I did.  I heard nothing more for three weeks, so I contacted BA again and received a third email, which stated that the claim form had been forwarded to the refund department.  I heard nothing more so after ten days I contacted BA again.  This time I received another automated reply and was given a different case number.  Another automated email was received on the same day with yet another case number.  The next day I received an email with the original case number stating that the claim was being followed up with the refunds team.  It is now almost two months since I submitted a claim, yet I have still not received this refund.   The BA website seems to suggest that the only way to make a complaint is via email.  SM, by email.

A. You have now received the refund in full from BA. A spokeswoman said: “We are pleased to have resolved this matter directly with our customer.”

Q. I bought a pair of Jacob cuir leather brogues costing £129 from Peterandporter’s Spitalfields stall. I was concerned about buying them as I have wide feet, but I was reassured that “the leather will stretch”. I followed the salesman’s advice – wore the shoes indoors, with thick socks, but when I wore them one evening the left shoe produced a painful weal on my foot that drew blood! I have been in regular email contact with Peterandporter to complain and seek to return the shoes and obtain compensation. Peterandporter has rejected my complaint on the grounds that it cannot resell the shoes despite minimal wear. I now have a pair of shoes that are too painful to wear. I have argued that the shoes are not fit for purpose.  MC, London.

A. We spent months emailing Peterandporter, using the email address on its website, without any reply whatsoever. We also wrote using surface mail to Peterandporter, using the address quoted on its website, again without reply.  There is no phone number shown on the website and we were unable to locate a phone number through online searches, or via BT’s directory enquiries.  It was only when we sent a message on Facebook that we received a reply.  Its representative ‘Michael’ said: “Sorry we don’t refund items that had been used, we always do refunds or exchanges but only when they are in original conditions.”  We responded that you felt the items were mis-sold.  ‘Michael’ replied: “We advise to [the reader] and all our customer [sic] that leather gives a bit which is the truth. If he felt uncomfortable we could refund the money like we do sometimes but always in perfect conditions so we can resale. We don’t make refunds for used items.”  We are very unimpressed by the difficulties we have encountered in contacting Peterandporter.  Although Peterandporter refuses to accept the shoes back or make a refund, you do still have options to take the matter further.  You can take a case through the Small Claims Court.  An easier route if you paid for the goods by credit card is to request a chargeback, pointing out that Peterandporter has not attempted to resolve your complaints and that you believe the goods you were sold were not fit for purpose.  Most debit cards also provide a chargeback facility.  The card issuer is likely to refer the request to its disputes team in an attempt to resolve the matter.  More generally, we believe that many online retailers should improve the quality of their customer services.  We receive far too many complaints about online retailers that fail to respond to complaints and/or fail to provide a simple and reliable means for customers to lodge complaints or requests.


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