In February school holidays Bee planned a trip to Italy with a friend on Easyjet. But Easyjet cancelled the flight meaning that they had to stay another day. After some haggling Easyjet agreed on the phone to pay for the extra night, so Bee booked the hotel.
Afterwards she tried to get the money off them but with the usual battle going through the call centres. After God knows how many angry phone calls, they even agreed to refund the flight. Eventually they even put it in an email saying they would pay within 5 days. More angry phone calls and more emails and no money.
Eventually I decided that Bee needed the advanced course in complaining, as she has already passed the beginners (of course you have a right to complain) and the intermediate (it's OK to get angry and make a scene, but sometimes it's better to negotiate afterwards). The advanced course involves giving up the telephone and proceeding with the letter or fax to the legal department, giving them 7 days to pay up or we'll see them in the (named) County Court. This usually produces the money, even if not within the seven days.
Occasionally you do actually have to go to court which costs £25 but you can claim it back. The procedure is very simple and provided you have lots of documents and proof it's quite interesting.
Bee discovered that you can now do Small Claims in the County Court online, (here) which made it even easier to do from Georgia. So I filled in the form online. Bee isn't 18 so I had to sue, and the tickets had been paid for by her friend, so by the time I had explained all that, there wasn't very much room to explain what the claim was for. Nevertheless I made the claim, registered it and waited for it to be served to Easyjet. After a fortnight the website showed they hadn't answered, so I asked for a judgement against them, which was granted.
Nothing happened. More emails from Easyjet offering to pay in 5 days but no money and no response to the court case.
Bee was devastated to find that the court has no power to actually make Easyjet pay. Of course we could have paid another £55 to send the bailiffs round, but for £270 it didn't seem worth it. I couldn't see the bailiffs impounding a plane, to pay back £270. So faith in the British justice system descended to an all time low.
Finally at the beginning of July when we had completely given up, a grovelling letter arrived from Easyjet Legal Department, with a cheque and an apology. Since then my bank has managed to lose the cheque but I assume we will eventually get the money.
The rules for compensation for flight cancellations etc within the EU are rather fixed by law and rather generous (on another occasion I expected to get 50 Euros but actually got 250 Euros). You can see the rates here.
Apparently if they don't pay up within 7 days, airlines face fines of up to £5,000 a passenger for failing to comply with the regulations. If they do not you have a right of appeal to the Air Transport Users' Council.
But it seems easier rather than battle with another organisation to just go straight to the county court on line and get it settled quickly.
I recommend that suing in the County Court for small claims should be part of citizenship lessons for teenagers.
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