More than two in three people (69%) who shop online have had parcels lost, damaged or turn up late in the last year, according to new research by Citizens Advice

As summer sales season gets underway, Citizens Advice says problems with late deliveries affect online shoppers the most – including those who paid for a premium service guaranteeing next day or a named day delivery.

Other common issues include parcels being left in unsecure locations, such as bins, and unnecessary failed deliveries – where people waited at home for a parcel, only to receive a note saying they’d missed it.

A survey of over 2,000 online shoppers carried out in December 2016 reveals:

  • 38% of people have had a parcel arrive late – including more than one in ten (16%) who paid for premium delivery service.
  • More than 1 in 10 have received damaged items.
  • More than 1 in 5 had a parcel go missing
  • 28% had a parcel left in an unsecure location
  • 28% were at home but had a note through the door saying the parcel couldn’t be delivered.

A new report ‘Parcel delivery: Delivery services in the online shopping market’ published by the charity today, highlights the problems people face resolving their delivery complaints.

More than half of people (54%) don’t take any action if their parcel is late – such as complaining or asking for a refund. Meanwhile a third of consumers who receive a damaged parcel don’t take action. For those that did try to complain, over 40% ran into problems – such as difficulty contacting the retailer or delivery company on the phone.
The research also found that half of consumers were unsure about who was responsible for the delivery of their parcel in the first place.

Citizens Advice’s consumer service helps people with around 2,600 parcel delivery issues each year. In 2016, over 23,000 people also visited the charity’s website seeking help for parcel problems.
A common issue reported to Citizens Advice was parcels that had been left in rubbish bins.

One woman who came to Citizens Advice for help was on holiday when her parcel was left in a bin. When she returned the bin had been emptied and the parcel gone. When she tried to complain to the retailer she was told it was not their responsibility.
Another man ordered a car part online which was left in a bin that was emptied by the time he got home from work. He complained to the sender but they said it wasn’t their fault.

Citizens Advice suggests a number of measures to make it easier for consumers to sort out their delivery problems, including:

  • Asking retailers and parcel firms to explain more clearly on their websites what customers’ delivery rights are.
  • Set up a quality mark scheme for parcel delivery firms that retailers could use to judge which offer the best service to their customers.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:

“Online shopping should be quick and convenient – but problems with delivery create unwanted hassle.

“Waiting at home for an item that doesn’t arrive is frustrating and time consuming – but our research shows many people aren’t taking action to resolve delivery issues, and others are running into problems if they do.”

“Retailers are responsible for getting the parcel to the customer – and making this clearer to customers at the checkout could help them sort out problems quicker if deliveries go astray.”

How to solve online delivery problems

Your parcel doesn’t arrive when you expected it to

Standard delivery: If you’re worried an item hasn’t arrived by the date agreed on your order, contact the retailer to find out where it is.The retailer is responsible for getting orders delivered to you, not the parcel company.If you didn’t agree a specific delivery date, it should arrive within 30 days of when you ordered it. You can cancel the order and get a full refund if it doesn’t arrive after 30 days.

Premium delivery: You can claim a refund for some of the cost of delivery. Legally, retailers only need to refund the cost of the cheapest delivery option – so if you paid for a premium ‘next day’ or ‘named day’ service, you may not get all your money back.

Your parcel is damaged
It is the retailer’s responsibility to make sure items arrive in good condition. Contact them about the damage and they will either offer to send you a new item or refund you.

Someone was waiting at home for the parcel, but a note said it couldn’t be delivered
Contact the parcel firm to arrange a redelivery, or alternatively if you don’t want it any more you can cancel the order if it’s been less than 14 days since you bought it and get a refund. Although legally you’re not entitled to compensation in this situation it’s worth complaining to the delivery firm and retailer – they will value your feedback and may offer you a goodwill gesture.

Your parcel was left in an unsecure location
If you get a note saying your parcel has been left in a certain location but it isn’t there, the retailer should replace it or give you your money back. If you receive the item but aren’t happy with where it was left, complain to both the retailer and delivery firm. Although not legally obliged, they may offer you some sort of compensation as a goodwill gesture.

Citizens Advice Ipswich exposes 10 things employers say to mislead people about their rights

Asking people to become self-employed if they want to keep their jobs or telling agency staff they don’t have a legal right to sick pay are just some of the things employers say to find ways around people’s rights at work, Citizens Advice Ipswich can reveal.

The national charity has identified 10 common things that some employers say to try and mislead people about their rights.

In the 12 months to April, Citizens Advice Ipswich helped 570 people with a problem at work.

People were most likely to ask Citizens Advice Ipswich for advice on:

– Pay and entitlements, such as sick pay
– Dismissal
– Contract terms and conditions, such as whether they were workers or self-employed

All employees are entitled to basic rights such as national minimum wage, sick pay, holiday pay and fair treatment during pregnancy.

However, issues such as contract types and unclear employment status can leave workers unsure about what they’re entitled to, and allow unscrupulous employers to find ways of depriving them of pay and protections.

Now Citizens Advice Ipswich is exposing 10 things employers say that attempt to undermine people’s rights and setting the record straight on how they should be treated.

Citizens Advice Ipswich Chief Executive Nicky Willshere said:

“Unscrupulous bosses are using excuses to duck out of giving people the rights they’re entitled to.

“People with complicated working arrangements such as flexible hours, temporary or agency contracts can find it particularly difficult to work out what their rights are, allowing some bad bosses to trick them out of pay and entitlements.

“Anyone who thinks they aren’t being paid properly or are worried about things their boss has said should come to us for advice, so we can help clarify their rights and work out what to do next.”

10 things your boss shouldn’t say

If you hear any of these, get advice:

1. “You work for us, but you’ll need to pay your own national insurance contributions.”

2. “We can’t afford to pay you any more – you’ll have to go self-employed.”

Being asked to pay your own national insurance or to go self employed when nothing has changed are signs of ‘bogus self employment’ – where your boss claims you are self-employed but you’re not.

This saves employers money as they don’t pay national insurance on your wage – or need to pay you minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay or maternity pay either. Check your employment status – if you think you are an employee, ask to be treated like one. Get advice on how to approach the conversation.

3. “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.”

4. “You were travelling between clients – so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”

Every employee should get national minimum wage, and you should be paid for all the time you spend at work. HMRC can help resolve problems with underpayment – Citizens Advice can guide you on next steps.

5. “You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”

6. “You’re having a baby next year? We’ll need to take you off that important project now.”

Your working arrangements during pregnancy should stay the same unless you ask for a change – any changes imposed on you are discrimination. Let your boss know that you want to continue work as normal, and if they insist on changes get advice.

7. “We don’t have to pay you redundancy pay because you’re on a zero hours contract.”

Wrong – some zero hours workers are entitled to redundancy pay. You need to have been working for your employer for two years or more, usually doing at least one shift a week. Citizens Advice can help you work out if you qualify.

8. “We need to close for the next two days for stock taking, so you’ll need to take holiday.”

If your employer needs you to take holiday, they should give you twice as much notice as the length of holiday needed. If you aren’t given proper notice, you should be paid and not asked to use leave. ACAS can liaise with both parties to resolve problems with leave if a discussion with your employer doesn’t work.

9. “You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.”

Agency workers should be paid sick pay by the agency. Check if you qualify for sick pay and work out your next steps.

10. “We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.”

If you’ve already agreed to work the hours and you’ve been absent long enough to qualify, you should get sick pay.

Citizens Advice top tips for tackling problems at work

1. Keep evidence – keep hold of letters, payslips, emails and texts, and note down a record of conversations you’ve had which could be used to support your case.
2. Talk to your boss – problems may arise from honest mistakes or misunderstanding the law. If you don’t feel confident having a conversation one to one, ask a colleague or Union rep to join you.
3. Have a more formal discussion – if the issue isn’t resolved with an informal conversation, the next step is to raise a written grievance which should give you the chance to discuss your issue formally. ACAS has guidance on what to do.
4. Get advice – if you’re still not getting anywhere, speak to Citizens Advice, your Trade Union or to ACAS. Options might include using dispute resolution to liaise with your employer, or going to an employment tribunal.

Vacancy: Administration Support Officer

Contract: Permanent subject to probation period

Salary: £15,179

Hours: 37 per week (Monday – Friday) occasional out of office hours
(Job share considered)

Closing Date: 21 June 2017

Interview Date: Thursday 29 June 2017

Ipswich & District Citizens Advice Bureau is looking for an experienced Administration Support Officer to support the Bureau with its daily duties. Maintaining and updating personnel information, booking training courses, supporting advisers in daily duties such as sending fax requests, confirming appointments, photocopying and issuing letters when required.

Computer literacy is essential, alongside good communications skills.

The work will be wide and varied so being a team-player will be essential.

For application forms please contact: Jan Parcell – Senior Administrator
(Tel: 01473 219770 or via contact form on this site)

For informal discussion please contact: Nelleke van Helfteren Deputy Manager
(Tel: 01473 219772)

Address: 19 Tower Street
Ipswich
IP1 3BE

Why Do I Volunteer?

“Why do I volunteer with Ipswich Citizens Advice? I am really pleased that I can be part of an organisation that I feel passionate about. Information is power and as an adviser I am able to make sure more people have that power. And of course the real reason is because I enjoy it. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy myself. The people here are great.”

To mark Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), Ipswich Citizens Advice is shining a spotlight on the remarkable contribution of its team of 56 volunteers who give up 1,000 hours each month to help people find a way forward.

In the year 2016 to 2017, Ipswich Citizens Advice helped 8,009 people with 17,039 problems, from housing and debt issues to benefits and employment rights. This involved some 9,904 volunteer hours.

The charity’s volunteers play a crucial role ensuring people in Ipswich get the advice and support they need to get on with their lives.

Nicky Willshere Manager at Ipswich Citizens Advice said;

“We asked some of our volunteers what keeps them coming in and what they felt they got back from the experience. For some it was the boost to their confidence;”

“I like volunteering as it has given me the opportunity to do something I am good at and realise that I am.”

“I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but volunteering with citizens advice has confirmed to me that I am really good at this. That’s a great feeling.”

“I find my admin volunteering work good as the people I work with are very appreciative of what I do.”

Nicky explained;

“This isn’t just a lovely thing for the individual but can be a huge influence for change. In fact the majority of our volunteers leave us for paid employment, a fact we are extremely proud of.”

Nicky added;

“Volunteering also brings its own rewards and is a great way to meet new people and learn new skills.

“Volunteering with Ipswich Citizens Advice keeps me engaged with what is current in our community and the country as a whole.”

“There’s an element of giving and learning. Every day I go away having learnt something new.”

Nicky concluded;

”Citizens Advice offers a wide range of voluntary roles – from IT support and advisers to administrators and trustees. So we are also extremely happy to welcome those who are retired and looking for a new challenge or just a change.”

“On retirement it was a chance to contribute something that is in line with my own aspirations – now I work with like-minded people.”

“Volunteering with Ipswich CAB keeps my grey matter ticking over.”

Ipswich Citizens Advice is currently recruiting in a number of roles from reception to adviser. If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering with Ipswich Citizens Advice contact Nelleke van Helfteren, Deputy Manager, Ipswich Citizens Advice on 01473 219772 or via this web site

staff awayday

Dementia awareness week 15 to 21 May 2017

15 -21 May is Dementia Awareness Week and Ipswich Citizens Advice is reminding people that financial planning can be a crucial factor in helping people living with the disease.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Officer at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“When someone receives a diagnosis it is understandable that they will take some time to process what it means to them and their family. However, by taking positive action and controlling what choices can be made on your behalf, when and by whom, it can take a lot of worry out of the future.“

“Organising your affairs is prudent at any time but should you or a loved one face a diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s one of the most important things you can do to ensure your wishes are carried out is to thoroughly review and update your financial and legal affairs.“

Nicky adds,

“This could be as simple as updating contact information and details on existing legal papers such as leases, insurance policies, agreements, other contracts or just writing a will. However, in more complex cases it may be that you want to consult a solicitor to appoint guardians or enact an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).“

Ipswich Citizens Advice is taking this week as an opportunity to remind people to talk to family members, older and younger, ensuring others know your wishes and financially planning to ensure they are carried out.”

Nicky concludes

”We urge people facing these life changing circumstances to consult our website to review what benefits entitlements they might have and to find out how to protect loved ones from being scammed. We also offer a Money Advice Drop-In on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm at our offices in Tower Street. People are welcome to come along and we can help them plan for the future.”

People in Ipswich are being encouraged to claim their right to paid holiday

Citizens Advice Ipswich helped 558 clients with issues related to employment between April 2016 and March 2017 and a number of these dealt with the issue of holiday entitlement and pay.

Nationwide research by Citizens Advice recently found that half of people on zero hours contracts, and 2 in 5 people on temporary contracts wrongly believe they are not entitled to paid holidays.

It also found examples of employers withholding paid holiday from carers working night shifts, workers who didn’t meet their sales targets, and staff who the employers had wrongly categorised as self-employed.

All workers are entitled to holiday pay regardless of their type of contract – whether it’s full-time, part-time, agency or casual work. You are entitled to up to 28 days holiday a year – depending how many days a week you work.

Citizens Advice nationally has helped people with this issue including one case of a man who worked in a care home for over 5 years, working 48 hours a week. His employer had previously told him that night workers are not entitled to paid holiday, and he had never questioned this until recently. When he visited Citizens Advice, it was calculated that he has incorrectly missed out on paid holiday of £8,900.

In another a woman who worked in the sales sector, was told she could only take holiday if she met her sales targets, which is unlawful.

The charity is calling on the next government to ensure workers are aware of, and are able to take, the paid holiday that they are entitled to.

Citizens Advice Ipswich Manager, Nicky Willshere said:

“Half of people on zero hours contracts, and many on temporary contracts, think they are not entitled to paid holiday. There is a lot of confusion and we have seen examples where employees have missed out through a lack of awareness of their rights.”

“With more than half of employers having staff working shifts or variable hours, people need to be more aware of their rights over paid holiday. Anyone who is unsure of their situation or thinks they are missing out should contact us for help.”

“But we also think there is a role for the next government to help people get what they are entitled to by boosting enforcement and reducing the costs of employment tribunals.”

Citizens Advice Ipswich wants the next government to:

  • Combine the enforcement of employment rights into one powerful Fair Work Authority that can tackle employers that break the rules.
  • Place a £50 cap on Employment Tribunal fees so that people who are treated unfairly by their employer aren’t denied access to justice.
  • Define self-employment in law to prevent exploitative employers restricting people’s rights, including access to the minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.

St Peters Band Russia Night

2017 is the centenary of the Russian Revolution and St Peters Band is marking this historical event with a concert of famous Russian classics and other music about Russia.

The band have a varied programme including influences from the cold war, global communism, Broadway’s idea of Russian peasant life, and not forgetting a Euro-disco hit. The band are also very pleased to have special guests including Ukranian pianist Eleonora Ivanovna Bulatova.

So come along and support them and their chosen charity – Citizen’s Advice Ipswich.
st peters band russian night

T I C K E T S

Ipswich Citizens Advice Launch New Local Outreach Service

Ipswich Citizens Advice open their new Outreach Service today (5 April 2017) in the Gainsborough Community Library. The new service will be open to the public Wednesday mornings between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on a first come first served basis.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Ipswich Citizens Advice, said:

“We have successful outreach projects in the Whitton Health Clinic on Tuesday mornings and the Hawthorn Drive Surgery on Thursdays, and with this new addition we can help even more people access the support they need.”

She added,

“From April this year we have helped 4,200 people face to face and an additional 2,255 people with our telephone helpline service on 0300 330 1151. We are a registered charity and provide free, confidential and impartial advice on issues affecting people’s lives.”

It doesn’t matter who you are or what your situation is, Ipswich Citizens Advice can help you work out your problems:

  • Benefits
  • Housing
  • Work
  • Relationships
  • Consumer
  • Debt and Money
  • Pension issues
  • Law and Rights

When: Wednesday 9.30- 12.00
Where: Gainsborough Community Library, Clapgate Ln, Ipswich IP3 0RL

Unfair action by bailiffs pushing people further into debt warns Ipswich Citizens Advice

Unfair treatment by bailiffs is putting people in Ipswich at even greater risk of financial difficulty, warns Ipswich Citizens Advice.

This year to date the charity helped well over 100 people with bailiff issues, including problems related to enforcement action for arrears and fines.

Ipswich Citizens Advice says some of the tactics used by bailiffs are pushing some people further into the red.

Examples seen by Ipswich Citizens Advice include bailiffs arriving at a house looking for payment at 6 a.m. when the resident, a mother on her own, couldn’t reach anyone for help or support due to the early hour. This just meant she felt under increased stress and pressure until she could contact someone to help her deal with the situation.

Nationally, Citizens Advice helped people with over 80,000 bailiff problems last year. The charity is part of the Taking Control campaign calling for fundamental reform of bailiff laws in England and Wales. It wants a new independent regulator set up to cover all bailiffs, as well as a restructuring of bailiff fees to incentivise good practice.

Nicky Willshere, Manager at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Bailiffs can cause severe distress and should only be used as a last resort.”

“We’ve helped people who have experienced problems such as bailiffs turning up unannounced at their homes or with difficulties trying to arrange an affordable repayment plan. These tactics not only create emotional turmoil but can also push people further into debt if they are rushed in to making on the spot decisions.”

“Creditors must make sure they are treating people fairly by helping them work out how to manage and repay debts rather than making their financial issues worse.

“Anyone struggling with debt can get free and confidential advice from Ipswich Citizens Advice and we would encourage people to come to us before their debts or other financial problems escalate to court action.”

Tactics of some doorstep lenders causing serious hardship for borrowers, warns Citizens Advice

Some doorstep lenders are taking advantage of their position and putting people at risk of serious debt problems, Citizens Advice warns.

A new report published by the charity today has identified a number of concerning practices by some doorstep lenders. The evidence, submitted to the Financial Conduct Authority today as part of its review into the high cost credit market, highlights:

Harsh debt collection methods – doorstep lenders, who earn commission on collecting repayments, have been shown to use intimidating behaviour which breach FCA debt collection rules to retrieve outstanding debts.

Citizens Advice helped one man with substantial doorstep loan debts who was visited by a lender on the same day his son had died. The lender refused to leave until a family member was taken down to an ATM to withdraw cash.

  • Another case saw a lender harass an elderly, blind woman for payments while she was in hospital receiving treatment for a stroke – despite repeatedly being asked not to visit.
  • Irresponsible lending – people are not being given satisfactory checks to make sure they can afford to take out doorstep loans.
  • One woman who had very little money to spare because she had a legally binding debt plan to repay nearly £20,000 was given 3 doorstep loans by 3 separate lenders – despite them knowing her situation.

Citizens Advice also raises concerns about lenders putting pressure on people already struggling with repayments to take out a new doorstep loan to cover them and doorstep lenders turning up unannounced at people’s doors to sell loans.

Doorstep loans are provided directly to customers’ homes by a lender, who returns each week to collect repayment. In the majority of cases, borrowers apply for the loan online or over the phone and are then visited by a lender with the cash.

It is estimated that over 1.3 million people in the UK use doorstep loans, with the average loan size estimated to be £500.

Last year Citizens Advice helped an estimated 23,000 people with unmanageable doorstep loan debts. Their average debt was worth nearly £700 and a third of people had taken out more than one doorstep loan.

Ipswich Citizens Advice Manager Nicky Willshere said:

“We are seeing more people coming to us with priority debts, such as rent or council tax arrears, which have built up because the Client has paid their money to the person who knocks on their door every week.

When they are dealing with the same individual week in and week out they come to see them as friends rather than creditors and this too can influence their decision to treat the doorstep loan as more urgent than perhaps a letter reminding them of overdue rent.”

Helen Bloomfield, Money Team Leader added;

“We encourage people to access loans by joining Credit Unions and always check and compare the interest rates. Some doorstep lenders charge extremely high rates of interest and this can lead to problems keeping up the payments.

The FCA’s intervention drastically reduced problems in the payday loan market – we now want to see similar protections introduced for consumers using other high cost credit products, including doorstep loans.”

As the Financial Conduct Authority’s call for evidence into the high cost credit market closes on Wednesday, Citizens Advice has submitted evidence and recommendations to improve problems in other parts of the sector – including the guarantor loan and rent to own market.

The charity wants the FCA to extend its cap on payday loan interest rates and fees across the market to protect consumers. It also wants the regulator to strengthen its affordability guidance into rules to ensure responsible lending across the market.

The charity’s new report includes further recommendations to improve the doorstep lending market, such as:

  • New rules placing a limit on the number of times a doorstep loan can be refinanced
  • A review of the methods doorstep lenders use to collect repayments
  • A ban on cold call selling of doorstep loans
  • A requirement for doorstep lenders to disclose the commission they make on collecting repayments so borrowers understand what is driving lenders action.