James Walker: My crystal ball says the fightback begins here

What does this year have in store for consumers?
What does this year have in store for consumers?
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Last year, Resolver helped sort out over 2 million complaints for free. I’m massively proud that we were able to help so many people. And those complaints can also give us some clues about the things that we’ll be seeing in 2019. So without further ado, I’m peering into the Resolver crystal ball to give you our predictions for the things that will be on our minds in the year ahead.

Data misuse. Facebook has lurched from one scandal to the next about data sharing, while big banks, ticket companies and hotels have all been compromised and released millions of megabytes of our private data and bank details. It’s always been really hard to complain about this if you only suspect that you’ve been affected. But that will all change in 2019 as tougher rules, more fines and greater awareness shift the balance of power.

Loyalty charges. The Competitions and Markets Authority recently concluded that loyalty payments – overcharging of people who stay loyal to various business sectors like insurance, broadband, savings, mobiles and more – is unfair and will be clamped down on. The report isn’t retrospective, but you can make a complaint about lots of these industries and, in theory, claim back the money that you’ve been overcharged. And the financial ombudsman has upheld a few cases.

Online shopping. This is costing the big companies like Amazon huge sums of money in delivery charges and lost items, so expect to see parcel delivery costs rise or be prepared for collecting packages from pre-arranged pick-up points. And the days of ordering that dress in three sizes are numbered too. Watch how firms will start to charge for “try before you buy” services or introduce credit agreements for late returned items.

Mini-debits. We’ve all got used to extra costs when we book flights – speedy boarding, choosing a seat, a better meal, extra leg room. We grumble, but put up with it because it’s only “a few quid”. Well other businesses have watched and learned. We’ve seen charges for keeping your email addresses introduced recently or ones for picking up purchases in a local store. Increasingly services we once got for free will have a small charge attached. But if more of us fight back, it makes it harder for them to hit us with charges for doing next to nothing.

Super-massive insurance contracts. Last year my travel insurance contract hit over 140 pages. A volcano erupts – that’s not covered in most contracts for travel now. Your posts on social media – they might be looked at as part of a claim. That satnav in your car – it might affect your premium. All of this makes it incredibly unfair to expect us to read the T&Cs as we’re always told we have to. Remember, if there’s a clause in your insurance contract that’s unfair, hidden or ambiguous, you can complain if they use it to turn down a claim. The fightback starts here!

Of course, there are many more things, from shifty landlords to rising costs that will have an impact in 2019. I want to hear what you think – or what’s worrying you. Together we can tackle these issues before they get out of control.

Resolver can help you sort out complaints about pretty much anything – so don’t hesitate to contact us.

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