We battled on your behalf ensuring you came out heroes not zeroes
The accuracy of energy bills, switching confusion and old style, hard-to-read meters contributed their share to consumers’ misery and their sense of impotence when faced with sprawling, automated systems.
But Barry Parsons stood his ground when all those around him told him to capitulate and pay £2,000 in catch-up electricity charges
He was convinced though the bill from First Utility made no sense as he was variously told he was £296 in credit, then £800, then over £1,000 in debt.
The Ombudsman Services: Energy told him to settle too, piling the pressure on Barry who had submitted all the evidence he had.
However when Crusader combed through the detail of what he and his wife were supposed to have consumed, it was double his usual usage and colossal discrepancies surfaced.
First Utility then discovered an error and wiped off all charges including some monies outstanding as a goodwill gesture. Ombudsman did a review after our intervention and reversed its decision, so Barry was saved from a life blighted by a massive debt.
Moving home proved to be a surprisingly risky business last year, with more removals firms exploiting loopholes to avoid their responsibilities and customers carried away by cheap prices.
Goods lost or damaged in transit and temporary storage were the subject of numerous complaints we received. And just as bad were the bogus insurance contracts some customers were advised to buy at the time of booking that provided no genuine protection.
We helped Cass Helstrip improve the compensation she squeezed out of Energize Contracts Ltd, a company that’s now gone bust after it mixed up and damaged her belongings. For those planning a move this year, remember get a fixed price in writing first, use a firm that’s a member of a reputable trade body and check that membership is genuine and current.
Shoddy workmanship by some sub-contractors and double glazing firms saw homeowners who had paid thousands of pounds forced to put up with draughts, ruined plasterwork and jobs never finished.
Leslie Fellman paid more than £11,000 for new windows but the work wasn’t completed. That also made the 10-year guarantee he had invalid. After months of delay the job was finished, but Leslie does not feel a winner as he struggled to get recognition for the distress and upheaval he experienced.
We regularly fought the bullying tactics employed by debt collectors working on behalf of the likes of private parking enforcers. Disabled blue badge holder and cancer sufferer Roy Harris refused to buckle after, as a result of his condition, he had to make an emergency stop to use a pub’s lavatory. Roy had permission but still got a parking charge which we fought with all we had until it was wiped off.
We also exposed another scandal after receiving several complaints from small businesses who had become bad debt victims.
They then became double losers after being taken in by agencies that promised they could get the money back in return for hundreds of pounds in upfront fees, but in reality achieved nothing.
Fraud, cyber crime and firms’ sloppy online security made financial transactions ever more hazardous for consumers – anyone sending payments to complete on property be very careful is our best advice.
The same goes for warranties which also proved rich pickings for the less scrupulous. Charlie and Marguerite Ricketts had one from P Kelly Warranties covering their Essati garage door, but like the product it was rubbish and it was only cover through their Tesco credit card that eventually won them an £854 refund after the door fell apart.
Broken broadband connections and slow repair times dogged the telecoms sector
Broken broadband connections and slow repair times dogged the telecoms sector, ironically as it became more and more apparent how reliant consumers have become on a service almost as essential as power and water.
Online ticketing and resale site Viagogo came in for a lot of flack regarding its poor communications and astronomical charges, but customers has little option but to keep complaining and hope for the best as the company is based in Switizerland so outside UK law and its safeguards.
Having a water meter fitted would have saved Malcolm and Janet Weale thousands of pounds in charges over the past few years had they been told about it. They missed out so they wanted a rebate from Bournemouth Water, now part of South West Water. But their claim was summarily rejected by a functionary until Crusader took up the case with magnificent help from the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) who went into the company’s billing archives to unearth terms and conditions that proved the Weales were justified. We highlighted the discrepancies and obligations then CCW pursued a formal challenge and the Weales won receiving a handsome sum.
Nothing however will ever truly compensate for the distress and loss of time experienced by decent, honest people when they are cheated or receive bad customer service. But the £500,000 we reckon we have got for people in terms of cash back and free expert guidance did help, we know because you told us. So thank you, we’re here if you want justice and Happy New Year.