Friday 9 December 2016

Dermott Jewell, consumer expert: Mobile top-ups and travel vouchers not honoured

Mobile top-ups and travel vouchers not honoured. What are your rights? Our expert has the answers

Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30

Dermott Jewell
Dermott Jewell

Q: Hello Dermott, I carried out a phone top-up transaction on Sunday night, received an email confirming the €20 top-up was successful and that the money was deducted from my bank account.

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I did not receive the credit to my phone.

On Monday customer care advised me that I would need to wait 24 hours for this top-up to be received. They then added how "sometimes these top-ups are not processed our end and we then request a copy of the bank statement to prove the money was taken from the account and also the confirmation email. When this is all confirmed we will then top up your account with the €20".

I asked for some consideration, especially as I had the email to hand - but I was told, "we don't do this".

I am extremely unhappy my time is being wasted, I am out €20 and now may not have the credit for a week! Alan

A: It really is a sad reflection of this company's corporate strategy that the customer is never right.

To a degree, I can understand how numerous scams have given rise to what is clearly, from this example, an underlying lack of trust.

But, when it becomes the overriding practice to never accept, as proof in any way, the customers' telephone details, the spoken advice of the email confirmation and the word of that customer as consideration for support - for €20! - then, Alan, it's time to take your custom elsewhere.

I suggest you send the details they demand, request a direct refund rather than a credit and move your business to where it is valued - well, hopefully! This needs to be highlighted for change and so, when you have closed out on the details, I suggest you send a full account of your experience to the consumer division of the Regulator (Comreg.ie).

Q: I'm hoping you can help me in regards to two vouchers I have from a travel company. One is four years old and worth €800 and the second is three years old and worth €300.

I failed to see that these vouchers showed 'valid for one year' on each and when I recently tried to use them I was advised they were too old so would not be honoured.

I challenged this. It is my opinion that the company has been paid €1,100 to add to their profit without giving anything in return.

It has now agreed to pay out on the three-year-old voucher, which, conveniently for the company, is of the smallest value. Can you please advise where I stand on my rights? Legally, do they have to honour the four-year-old voucher?

Kind regards, Jean.

A: It will, and has been, argued to you that, as there is advice on the vouchers that they are valid for one year, this is the legal position.

In terms of a contract, this is correct. However, it's widely acknowledged to be unacceptable when it comes to the ethics of doing good business. It is seen as, to use your own word, honourable, to acknowledge that money was accepted in return for nothing but a piece of paper.

I will acknowledge that can be an accounting nightmare but I know of many businesses who pride themselves on overcoming the bookkeeping issues in favour of the fairest outcome for a valued customer. In this case, one who will, if treated fairly, return to holiday again. If not in full, then I believe the company can and should do much, much better by you.

Irish Independent

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