Last week, This is Money blasted the claims management companies (CMCs) such as Flight Delay Pay that are taking on flight delay compensation claims: and rightly so. These companies, which I would like to stress are not solicitors, are not regulated by any official legal body, known to hide fees in onerous terms and conditions and, worst of all, often leave their clients considerably out of pocket.
After a flight disruption, passengers are often left wondering which way to turn. CMCs may initially present themselves as a hassle-free way of recovering compensation, but they neglect to mention that passengers can pursue a flight delay claim under EU Regulation 261/2004 with the airline first and foremost. It seems shameless profiteering is their only agenda.
If you are in the early stages of pursuing flight delay compensation with a CMC, it’s important to know that there is a 14 day “cooling off” period, during which you can withdraw from your claim without any legal repercussions.
In comparison, Bott and Co is the UK’s most recommended flight delay compensation company, winning landmark court cases and recovering over £62M for more than 187,000 people against 137 airlines. Put simply, our biggest priority is to help passengers who’ve suffered flight disruptions, with transparent fee structures and terms and conditions.
It’s hard to overemphasise just how extortionate the methods used by some CMCs against unwitting customers truly are, and I think that official oversight, as well as enforcement action against them, is long overdue.
Gaining From Customers’ Ignorance?
Unlike Bott and Co, which is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, CMCs are not regulated by any official legal body. This means that if CMCs’ customers find themselves on the receiving end of threatened court action after refusing to pay a fee that has seemingly come from nowhere, they are left vulnerable.
The story is all too familiar: back in 2017, we were instructed by a Mr Watson to help him claim compensation for a 13 hour delay after Northampton-based Flight Delay Claims Team demanded £400 from him after he had merely submitted his details online. Two weeks later, the figure had risen to £540.
Mr Watson said, “I had no intention of entering into a contractual agreement and I did not sign any documentation. If FDCT had spelled out in advance what charges I may have incurred, I would not have submitted my details.”
The Very Definition Of “Claims Chasing”
In Summer 2018, CMCs reached a new unscrupulous low when they literally defined the term “claims chasers”, waiting at the airports of popular tourist destinations for delayed passengers to disembark. Sadly, their unsuspecting prey may not have been well versed in their rights under EU Regulation 261/2004, therefore drawing the short straw.
When they don’t act, as they are not permitted to by law, they are adding no value at all to a client’s claim, as a client could pursue action themselves.
However, this sorry state of affairs could become even worse. As the deadline for PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) passed on 29th August, we can predict that delayed passengers may be on the receiving end of a deluge of calls and emails from CMCs, brazenly hunting for new business.
Unsolicited means of communication does seem to be CMCs’ modus operandi; and alongside burying unfeasible fees deep within the small print and taking clients to court rather than the airlines, it makes for a business model that’s morally ambiguous at best, and exploitative in the worst case.
Flight Delay Pay’s Flagrant Disregard Of Passengers
Another person that fell foul of the actions of a CMC is Bob Feltham, who instructed Flight Delay Pay to seek compensation for himself and his family after a 12 hour flight delay. What actually transpired was Flight Delay Pay dragging their heels in holding airline Air Corsica to account, resulting in Mr Feltham consulting Money Mail for advice. After he sought compensation from the airline direct, Flight Delay Pay is now shockingly demanding a sizeable £427 of the £1,335 award, and is threatening to take legal action if he refuses.
A clause within the contract forbids Flight Delay Pay’s customers from trying to collect the money themselves – in instances like these, it’s easy to see how choosing a reputable and experienced solicitor is a much more palatable option.
My Advice To Passengers Stung By A CMC
In contrast to the abhorrent practices of CMCs, at Bott and Co we actively encourage delayed passengers to try to claim first with the airlines themselves, with a downloadable template letter to the airline in question on our website to assist with this. If this is unsuccessful, we are always available to provide legal expertise, and if necessary, enforce legal action – something which CMCs cannot do, as it is against the law for a non-regulated person to issue court proceedings on behalf of somebody else.
This highlights exactly how ineffective CMCs really are. When they don’t act, as they are not permitted to by law, they are adding no value at all to a client’s claim, as a client could pursue action themselves.
If you are in the early stages of pursuing flight delay compensation with a CMC, it’s important to know that there is a 14 day “cooling off” period, during which you can withdraw from your claim without any legal repercussions. However, if your claim with a CMC has passed the 14 day withdrawal limit and is not progressing how you hoped it would, I’d recommend turning to Citizens Advice or Trading Standards for advice.