Smart Spending and Smart Saving Tips
Selling your home
Claim compensation for shabby treatment
If you are getting nowhere with a company’s call centre, a new service called Registered Call records conversations (10p a minute) to help you to claim compensation for shabby treatment. You sign up for the service and dial a special number before phoning the call centre. Recordings can be heard later by phone, over the Internet, or emailed to company complaints departments. One man received £150 compensation after Lloyds TSB’s insurance call centre apparently tried to wriggle out of covering him for a skiing trip as he is in a wheelchair. 0871 550 2929, www.registeredcall.com
Jane’s tip. Alternatively, keep a notebook and pencil by the phone to record all the times and dates you called who you spoke to and what they said. This kind of detail is invaluable when complaining, especially if you have to take the company to court.
Other useful contacts for consumer assistance
The Department of Fair Trading - request its free shopping booklet to check your rights. 0870 606 0321. www.oft.gov.uk
The Consumers Association offers a legal advice service for a nominal fee. 0800 920 123. www.which.net
" No Win. No Fee" Solicitors who advertise this service take on a limited number of cases - usually the safe bets - then take a large percentage of your winnings, so use with caution.
Free directory enquiries
The demise of Directory Enquiries is one of the tragedies of civilisation. It is still free, however, on-line at www.192.com - including business numbers. Also check out www.directoryenquiries.com and www.bt.com.
JANE'S GOLDEN RULE: When a call centre has been unhelpful and I need to complain to the top, as in a recent encounter with ADT burglar alarms, my technique is not to bother asking to talk to a " supervisor" , as I hear that in call centres, there often is no such animal - they just get a colleague to pretend. I go straight to the top – the Managing Director's PA usually gets things moving in a twink.
For this, you need a company's headquarters phone number rather than the usual 0845 or 0870 number. When the call centre won’t tell you this information and doesn’t know the name of the M.D., don’t waste time arguing – the call centre may be a contracted supplier in India or the Outer Hebrides these days and may genuinely not have been given this crucial info. Just hit www.192.com.
If your complaint is about a product, go to the website and hit the 'contact us’ buttons until you find a real phone number. Persist. Never email complaints. In my experience they are " binned" by an electronic robot so don't waste your time.
Call for free - use Skype
Fit your computer with a microphone and headset or speakers and you can call other computer users for free using Skype (free software). You can also call anywhere on earth at what would be the local rate for the country in question by buying credits with Skype. Skype also allows you to chat on screen and share files.
© Copyright Jane Furnival 2007, 2008