I complain about EVERYTHING and have won back hundreds- how you can too | The Sun

JANE Hawkes is proud to be known as the "Queen of Complaints"and she warns that you could be missing out on hundreds of pounds by not speaking up.

The consumer expert has years of experience in standing up against bad customer service and she's shared her top tips on how to complain with The Sun.

The 46-year-old from Gloucestershire has won back around £600 already this year by complaining, and getting compensated.

The former air hostess now shares her expertise on her consumer rights website Lady Jane, offering advice to how to crack the art of complaining.

But Jane said it's important to pick your battles – she bases all her claims on the laws set out in in The Consumer Rights Act 2015, which lays out what customers can expect from a business when they pay for goods and services.

If firms fail to meet these standards, you have every right to compensation.

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Jane has shared some of her biggest wins and reveals how you can too can claim back your hard-earned cash.

Supermarkets

If you've spotted a damaged product in your basket, like a tin of baked beans with a faulty ring pull, you could be offered a discount at the checkout.

Jane regularly gets partial or full refunds on her grocery shop, and always keep an eye out for defective product when shopping.

She said: "If you're in the store and you see any product with defect, then there's no harm in asking for a discount.

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"You should raise any issues at the checkout, where you might be given a discount – if you're not, don't buy the product.

"It's harder to get a refund if you've knowingly purchased a damaged item."

This tip isn't just useful for shopping in the supermarket, you can also try it when you're looking to buy new clothes.

Jane said: "If there's a button missing, or a broken zip – something that you can easily fix – then it's worth asking.

"Just make sure that you get the shop assistant to write on the receipt the reason for discount – otherwise if there's anything else wrong with it, you won't be able to take it back."

You are also entitled to a refund if you've bought a product that isn't "of satisfactory quality", said Jane.

For example, if you've bought a tasteless packet of sausages from the supermarket, you should tell staff next time you visit the store.

Jane said: "You don't need a receipt necessarily, you just need proof of purchase.

"If the item has the name of the shop on the product, then that's proof enough.

"I've been offered a gift voucher for the value of the item before when I've done this."

It's important to note you should always check the shops' returns policy before you make a trip – some places will only give you 30 days to ask for a return or a refund.

You can find most return policies by visiting the retailer's website.

Holidays

Families have been hit by travel chaos recently, with airlines cancelling hundreds of flights in recent days due to staff shortages.

This is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think about getting compensation back from a holiday.

But Jane has managed to win back money from hotels and holiday companies for a variety of reasons.

In February, she got £156 back from Travelodge after complaining about the standard of the room and poor customer service.

She helped her friend to get £150 cash back, plus a £50 voucher for a disappointing stay at a caravan park.

Jane said the best way to lodge a complaint is by sending an email to the company's customer service team – this can usually be found in the "contact us" section of their website.

This is because you can give companies a firm deadline in writing – Jane recommends seven days – and you have evidence of when you first got in contact.

Jane said: "I typically say don't phone the company because you need a clear chain of evidence to get bigger refunds.

"Simply state the issue and let them get back to you, and if they don't come back with what you want, go in a bit more hard ball.

"State why you think it wasn't acceptable and what you would like them to do."

Trains

If your train is delayed or cancelled, the Delay Repay scheme means you could get your money back.

Jane was refunded £48.30 after her train journey was delayed in June.

She said: "I don’t think people realise you can do this and that you could be entitled to compensation when a train is delayed."

The scheme is nationwide and covers all train companies – how much you get back depends on how long the delay is and the type of ticket you have.

Compensation ranges from 25% off the ticket price right up to a full refund if your train was delayed by 120 minutes or longer.

How you claim the money back will vary depending on the train company, but you can usually apply online.

You'll usually need a picture of your ticket and information about the train you were on to claim.

Services

Jane believes everyone should expect top quality customer service if you've spent money on a service.

This goes for hairdressers, builders, hospitality workers, nail artists and many more.

And if you haven't received the standard of service you were hoping for, then you should complain.

Jane said: "If you've been to the hairdressers, for example, and you've asked for a blonde bob and you've been given brown curls – raise it there and then.

"If nothing comes from a nice, initial conversation then put it in writing that the service you expected hasn't been carried out under the Consumer Act 2015.

"You don't need to be nasty – just be firm put fair."

If you're having a hard time getting a refund, check if the business is part of a larger body or organisation, which you could then complain to.

For example, if a tradesmen is registered with Checkatrade, you could raise it them with – it's website has a "complain about a member" section where you can lodge a complaint.

Meanwhile, banks, insurers and investment firms are signed up to the Financial Ombudsman Service, and telecoms firms are overseen by Ofcom.

But if all else fails, you could take the service provider or retailer to the small claims court – it sounds scary, but Jane said it can be worth doing in the right circumstances.

She took a retailer to court for negligence and breach of contract after she paid £1,678 for roof tiles that failed to arrive.

It's important to note there is an upfront fee of between £35 and £455 – however, if you win, this cost is refunded.

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The Sun also spoke to an expert about how you can get £1,100 back in refunds and compensation when things go wrong.

Meanwhile, we also spoke to an employment lawyer about what you should do if there is an error in your pay check.

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