As the outbreak of Covid-19 continues to spread, one-fifth of each country's workforce could be off work sick. Inevitably these numbers are going to cause severe disruption to services across many different industries, causing a massive spike in complaints.
But which industries are going to be affected the worst? And does Covid-19 jeopardize your right to complain? In this blog we first will list all coronavirus related complaints and give you advice how to complain in these surrealistic times.
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Travel Issues due Coronavirus
The one industry to be affected by an outbreak of this nature is travel.
Many airlines have already halted flights to specific destinations, particularly in regions surrounding the epicenter of the epidemic in Hubei Province, China. In addition to China, there are more and more flight restrictions worldwide. Many holidays, flights, and hotel reservations are likely to be canceled at short notice, and in the case of less reputable providers, with no warning whatsoever.
Update: 28/03/2020: Many countries worldwide are in total lockdown. Most flights and therefore travel have been stopped.
Complaints have already started to surface regarding the way some airlines and travel insurance companies are operating in the wake of the outbreak. Some organizations are not honoring their own refund policies, whereas others are stepping back from liability, citing the virus as an act of god instead.
Flight refunds due Coronavirus
For those who bought their product or service using a different method there’s still plenty of options on offer. First of all, almost all airlines are refunding tickets purchased to destinations that are no longer being serviced or that have designated an “essential travel only” zone.
The key determinant will be when you booked your tickets (i.e., before you knew the risks associated with traveling to that destination).
It’s also worth checking with your travel insurance provider whether they provide cover for these types of instances. Some providers do, whereas others don’t. So make sure to check before launching a complaint.
For concerts, sporting fixtures, conferences, trade shows, and any other events, you should be automatically refunded back the value of the purchase to whichever payment method you used because they never took place.
Inhumane Treatment by Border Authorities
While this will undoubtedly fluctuate from country to country, some border security may take overzealous measures under pressure to be seen to be preventing the spread of the virus. Being detained for weeks at a time is now a real possibility if you’re suspected to be carrying the virus at any entry point.
In many instances, you may not be given a chance to prove that you don’t have the disease, especially in countries that don’t have sufficient testing kits, suffering mistreatment regardless. Again, this won’t be the case in all states, but those known for their robust border force agents will likely clamp down hard on any suspect travelers.
Poor Treatment from Local Authorities
With regards to treatment from border personnel, it’s generally accepted that foreign nationals visiting a country have a right to make contact with their local embassy when facing the threat of detention. Failure to allow a representative from your home jurisdiction to visit you may contravene international laws, potentially paving the way for legal action.
Coronavirus & Canceled Events
Any event that has a large gathering of people is at high risk of being called off, either as a precaution or to comply with temporary government measures. Conferences, football matches, music concerts, and political rallies are vulnerable as the virus continues to spread.
There are a wide range of complaints that are likely to arise from this. Firstly, those who’ve bought tickets on the resale market may not have the same rights as those who bought them directly. Secondly, a lack of notice is likely to be the most significant cause for complaints, with international travel and hotel accommodation already booked for many concert and trade show attendees.
This unfortunate practice is already underway in many countries, with Amazon already taking action to remove over one million fake or overpriced coronavirus-related products from its online marketplace.
Many governments have outlawed the practice, with some local authorities clamping down on face mask pricing in particular. Therefore, retailers undertaking these practices are not only going to cause an increase in complaints, but they’re also breaking the law.
If you’ve found yourself a victim of this unsavory practice, the first port of call should be to report them to your local authorities, particularly if the practice has been outlawed.
If no action is taken against the retailer in question, you could approach them directly with your complaint about the price you paid and see what their response is. If its a recognized chain, they may have a price-match promise in place, which gives you the option to find the same products for cheaper and request a refund for the difference.
Speaking of Amazon, one of the industries yet to be affected, but likely to be in the future is logistics. If up to 20% of the population is struck down with Covid-19, then in some cases, customers may have to wait weeks for deliveries of online orders to arrive.
Having a package arrive later than it should is annoying enough, but the consequences for some individuals who are house-bound for one reason or another could be catastrophic. It’s likely that complaints will steadily increase, as workforces slim down during the peak of the virus.
What if my online purchase is not delivered due Coronavirus?
With regards to couriers and online retailers, each will have its cancellation and refund policy, which is enforceable by law, regardless of the coronavirus outbreak. Failure to comply could see you with grounds for legal action, which depending on the value of the items, might be worth pursuing.
What are Your Rights?
In the case of cancellations, it’s essential to know what your rights are as a consumer. While each country has its own laws to protect consumers, there are some general practices that you should be aware of, regardless of where you’re located.
Items Bought with a Credit Card
First of all, if an event, flight, or online order is canceled, you have a right to pursue a refund through your credit card as you can’t be charged for a product or service that you never received.
However, please note that if you choose not to receive a product or service bought with a credit card for fear of catching the virus (e.g., deliberately not taking a flight or not showing up to a concert) then you aren’t legally entitled to anything in compensation unless you have insurance that covers willful cancellation.
How to file a coronavirus Complaint?
If you’re experiencing difficulties in either receiving a refund you’re entitled to, or a company or local authority has treated you poorly, an official complaint is the best method to seek redress.
After you’ve physically made notes of everything that’s happened, you need to write them up into an official complaint letter that can be delivered online in most instances.
It would be best if you kept all correspondence in writing. Remember, your issue will be just one of the thousands experienced during this period of uncertainty. By continuing all communication in writing, you have undeniable evidence of what parties have said in each exchange.
Besides going through official complaint procedures it’s best to resort to other methods to increase the number of eyeballs on your specific situation.
Here at Complain.Biz, we not only do we offer you the chance to get your complaint seen by thousands of other users, but we also contact the company/organization in question on your behalf to instigate action.
So, if you think a company has wronged you as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, get the attention your complaint deserves by filing it with us using the button below.