The kids' party with a 'castle' made from crisp boxes
16/08/16 We’re all used to spending a little (or a lot) of money to keep the kids happy – especially during the school holidays. But £36 a head for a ‘party’ festival whose ‘highlight’ was a so-called play-castle made out of crisp-boxes really does take the biscuit.
Yet that’s what the recent ‘Kidz Fest’ event in Essex amounted to. In fact, angry parents were left so fuming that the police had to be called to defuse the situation.
On top of the ticket price, families had to fork out extra for some ‘rides’ at what one mother described as ‘basically a school fete’.
So what can you do if you feel you’ve forked out for a summer outing that’s not up to scratch?
The Consumer Rights Act is your friend
Good news – since 1 October last year, there has been a clear legal framework for these sorts of problems. Basically, the law now clearly defines your rights when the supply of a service is not up to standard.
And by a service, the rules mean anything where you enter into a contract. In the case we’re talking about here, the contract is entered into when you purchase the ticket for the event.
Once you have bought the ticket, the onus is then on the organiser of the event to deliver their service with ‘reasonable care and skill’. If you feel they haven’t succeeded in this, then you have the right to a price reduction or even a full refund, depending on how severe you reckon the failure of the event to meet your expectations has been. They should provide this within 14 days of saying they will refund you.
In fairness to Tom Kembery, the organiser behind Kidz Fest, he offered to refund customers who were unhappy with the event. Although he called this a ‘good will’ gesture on Facebook, I would say there was a good chance he’d have to offer these refunds if pressed…
The moral of the story? If you’re out with the kids this summer and your day out isn’t up to scratch, don’t take it lying down – because the law is on your side!
So what else counts as a ‘service’?
Broadly, a service is anything where you enter into a contract whereby somebody (or an organisation) agrees to provide you with something in exchange for money. This can be with or without goods.
A solicitor, for example, would not provide you with physical goods for taking on the conveyancing of a house purchase, but they are clearly providing you with a service. On the other hand, a car mechanic undertaking repairs to your vehicle using replacement parts is providing you a service, too, but this time with goods.
Your rights with services
Once you’ve entered into a contract for a service, the service provider has an obligation to:
• Provide the service at a reasonable price, if one has not been agreed in advance
• Undertake the service in a reasonable timeframe
• Use reasonable care and skill
• Consider binding any info that the customer relies on when considering the service
Alternative Dispute Resolution – what is it? This is a system to help businesses and consumers when they cannot resolve issues directly with one another.
Once an internal complaint process is exhausted, businesses must give the consumer details of a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider and tell the consumer if they are willing to use them. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive has been a catalyst for a number of new ‘ombudsmen' appearing either as specialists for their sector or generalist providers. The term ombudsman is starting to be used far more loosely, and it is causing the landscape to become more complex for the consumer.
You can only go to one of these ombudsmen or ADR providers when an issue cannot be resolved. This is why Resolver really helps - if you cannot resolve, we know which ADR Provider to go to - and when - making it straightforward for the consumer and removing the minefield of 'who can help me?'.