James Walker: Past victories are a spur to battles ahead

Car rental firms have ripped off customers with bogus repairs
Car rental firms have ripped off customers with bogus repairs
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Like most people, I started the year with a huge list of resolutions… and some aren’t going as well as I’d have liked. So if you’re struggling, don’t give up. You’re not alone.

My to-do list at Resolver is looking daunting too. There are lots of new subjects to cover in this column in 2018, from banks and their sneaky overdraft charges to dealing with dodgy data breaches.

I sometimes find that looking at what went well last year helps me stay focused on the tasks that need to be done in the year ahead. So here are a few examples from the column.

Way back in May I took a look at rip-off car rental firms who charge a fortune for minor repairs – then don’t even make the repairs. Complaints are up by over two-thirds and the bad publicity has forced the industry to acknowledge it’s being scrutinised. But they’ve not stopped the practice yet, so watch out. And don’t forget to take out insurance to cover damage in advance, it’s much cheaper.

In October I looked at online shopping and your rights. I’ve been contacted by lots of readers about firms who are ignoring their right to return damaged items within 30 days. It’s time for tougher regulation to force these businesses to follow the law – I’m on it. Check out our guides to your rights at www.resolver.co.uk – and feel free to pass them on to businesses that aren’t playing ball.

In July I shone a light on Personal Contract Purchase car deals and how people borrow beyond their means on ludicrously complicated contracts. A few weeks later the Bank of England issued warnings about excessive lending and the regulator is investigating. I get a lot of questions about these deals. Don’t worry if you’re on one (over 80 per cent of car finance is PCP, so you’re not alone). Ask the finance company for an update on how your deal is progressing – and speak up sooner rather than later if you’re struggling with the payments.

In February I explained what to do if bad weather grounded your plane, and took a look at your rights for getting a refund if delayed for over three hours. Many people don’t realise that they can claim, even years after the incident. I also warned that claims managers were moving into this area, taking your hard-earned cash for doing absolutely nothing. As I predicted, they’ve swamped the internet with ads. Don’t give them your cash, Resolver can help you for free.

In April we took a look at the new scams doing the rounds. I’m saddened, but not surprised to say that fraudsters are ever more active, and increasingly creative. So be extra careful about the personal information you post online; never give out account details or passwords on the telephone, and if you feel like you’re being put on the spot, hang up the phone, shut the door and seek help.

Lots of columns last year looked at “stealth charges”. These charges are generally quite small, just a couple of quid. But they’re being applied by all kinds of businesses for things that used to be free. Most of us know we’ll be charged for choosing a seat on a plane, but many readers were horrified to discover they were being charged for late collection of goods from shops. If you spot a stealth charge in 2018, let me know.

Thanks for all your help and stories in 2017. Together we’re fighting to make things better.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk