Belfast Telegraph

Why the Consumer Council shouldn't be axed

Case studies from those the Consumer Council has helped

By Claire McNeilly

'They got me £20k from NI Water'

Jason Shankey: CEO of Jason Shankey Male Grooming Salons

Problems began for Jason Shankey when a water meter was installed in his salon in east Belfast.

The meter was supposed to serve his premises – Jason Shankey Male Grooming – and three others.

But Mr Shankey soon began to receive large bills and it became clear that he was being charged for the other three businesses on top of his own.

The problem was then compounded when he was charged for water leaks affecting all four properties.

After trying to resolve the issue with NI Water himself, the salon owner decided to hand his case over to experts at the Consumer Council.

"We'd had over three years' worth of hassle trying to resolve our issues with NI Water and I finally got fed up," Mr Shankey said.

Mark Crawford, head of consumer support at the Consumer Council – which managed to claw back £20,000 – said he was pleased their intervention had been successful.

We got £1,500 after airline gaffe

Janine Dougan

Mrs Janine Dougan and her family were all set for a holiday in Portugal– until things became tricky at the airport.

When they went to board their flight they were told it was over-booked, that they would be unable to travel and would be transferred to an alternative flight the following day.

The Dougan family were not informed of their entitlements and as a result missed a whole day of their holiday. When she got home Mrs Dougan contacted the airline seeking compensation in line with EU regulations.

But after not receiving a response from the airline, she decided to contact the Consumer Council for help to resolve the issue on their behalf. The watchdog investigated the complaint with the airline and the family immediately received an apology for the poor experience, the inconvenience caused and its failure to respond to their original complaint.

As a consequence of this the airline then offered the family €600 (£518) per person in accordance with EU Regulations, which came to a total of £1,554.

Our bill error was fixed

Phyllis and Robert Berry

Robert and Phyllis Berry were distressed to receive an unexpected electricity bill in January 2013 for £300 – almost double what they normally pay.

When they phoned their energy supplier to complain, they were assured that this level of usage was normal over the busy Christmas period.

After being advised to take regular meter readings they then noticed the readings were dramatically fluctuating up and down.

Their provider sent a meter engineer out to the property to inspect the meter and it turned out to be faulty, so it was replaced.

The couple were astonished when they received a bill in March for £1,608.99 so they asked the Consumer Council to investigate. As a result, the supplier apologised to the Berrys for the massive bill which had been issued in error. The couple were also credited £200.

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