Scams
Travel
10 November 2022

Beware of a British Airways scam doing the rounds

As the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, the idea of a New Year holiday in the sun becomes more and more appealing. But if the idea of a free holiday sounds appealing, please be aware that any invitations to a British Airways giveaway that are currently doing the rounds are not legitimate. The ‘British Airways Black Friday giveaway’, which Islanders have been sharing on social media and in local WhatsApp groups, is in fact a scam. British Airways have commented: “We are aware of a fraudulent promotion that is being shared via WhatsApp and social media, which has been reported. This message is not from British Airways and we advise anyone who receives it not to click any links and to report it as spam or delete it.” The Online Threat Alerts website reports that the ‘British Airways Black Friday giveaway’ promotion in fact contains a link that goes to a phishing website called shortlinks.su. They explain: “The website uses the ".su" top-level domain, which was designated for the Soviet Union (USSR). “The shortlinks.su website will attempt to trick visitors into completing surveys that steals personal information and may go to other phishing websites thats steals financial information. Therefore, if you were tricked into disclosing your financial information by the British Airways scam, please contact your bank for help.”
At Home
Travel
08 June 2020

HSBC CI to cease home and travel insurance

We recently became aware that HSBC CI & IOM are halting home & travel insurance to Islanders, so we asked them to explain the reason and if they might be able to offer the service in the future. Their Head of Communications, advised “HSBC in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man is changing the way that it provides travel and home insurance to its island customers. The current insurance provider is withdrawing insurance cover to island customers following changes to regulations by the UK Financial Conduct Authority which no longer allow a UK licenced insurer to invite renewals or take on new insurance business from residents in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. We apologise for the disruption to our customers. We are working to get a new insurance provider in place. Customers’ current insurance policies with us remain valid until their renewal date. Ahead of that renewal date, we’re writing to our customers explaining what’s happening. This doesn’t affect the packaged insurance services we provide as part of our Premier accounts.”
Travel
20 May 2020

Should I pay my summer holiday balance?

We can’t say yes or no, but here’s some guidance that might help you make that decision. You paid your deposit several months ago and now your tour operator is reminding you the balance or next instalment is due.The big question is should you pay it or not?We can’t say yes or no, as the decision is yours to make, and there are many ifs and buts to consider. You decide to make the payment:Travel restrictions may be eased or lifted by the time you intend to travel, but they may not.As a Jersey resident, it’s important that both Jersey and UK restrictions are lifted to the same level to avoid being turned back or stuck in quarantine. Then there are your destination country restrictions to consider. Pay with a credit card, where possible, as, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1975 you may be able to claim back. Which? have a good guide on this. If paying by debit card, you might be covered by charge back. Then you need to consider the following:– If the tour operator or airline cancel your trip, you’re due a full refund.– If the Jersey and/or UK governments are advising against travel, but your trip has not been cancelled, you may be able to claim from your travel insurance (as long as you got it before they stopped covering pandemics).– If travel restrictions are lifted, but you decide not to travel, you won’t be covered.– If the package holiday firm or airline later cancels your trip, there are some making it difficult to get refunds and are only offering vouchers. It’s a sad fact that due to the impact of the pandemic, some travel firms may go under. Check if your trip is covered by ABTA or ATOL – you should have received a certificate when booking, but you can always check with the company or online. If it is and the operator collapses, you would get a full refund. You decide not to pay the balance:You will be breaking the contract and are effectively cancelling your booking. In this scenario, you will probably lose any money already paid, and even if the tour operator or airline subsequently cancels the trip, you will not be entitled to a refund.However, it’s worth considering the benefits of losing the smaller amount compared to the full holiday cost. Booking a new holiday:With several companies offering us discounts at the moment, it understandable that we could be tempted to book for later in the year. Speaking to the Bailiwick Express yesterday, our Chairman, Carl Walker, advised Islanders not to be too hasty. If you go ahead, pay with a credit card, ensure your trip or resort is ABTA and ATOL protected and get the best possible travel insurance policy. As an aside, if you currently have an annual travel insurance policy, purchased prior to companies changing the clauses, and it covers pandemics, it would be a good idea to renew it. Some insurance companies have advised they will honour the cover as long as the policy is renewed correctly and on time.Although you should receive a reminder when the renewal date is, we suggest you check your documentation and diarise the date, to avoid missing the deadline.
Health
Travel
16 August 2021

How much does a Covid test cost? Travelling during a pandemic

There’s no denying that travel during Covid is complicated, frustrating and risky. In our July newsletter, we highlighted some points to be considered prior to booking or taking any travel. Things to consider before you book/travel Not only should you have appropriate travel insurance, but you must also know the testing requirements (inbound and outbound), understand the traffic light system and be absolutely sure of the Covid-related restrictions for each part of your journey i.e. your airline, ferry, holiday company or hotel; destination entry point; onward destinations; and indeed return travel. Each country has different entry and exit requirements which can change at very short notice, so it’s essential that you regularly check the relevant country’s Government website, prior to your departure and return. It may be that when you booked your ticket a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours was required, but by the time you leave, that could have changed to a negative antigen (lateral flow) test no older than 48 hours. If you’re double-vaccinated some countries may not require a negative test result but will require proof of the vaccination. Many will need either a negative test result or proof of vaccination, as well as appropriate documentation and/or specific declarations relating to your health, where you have stayed and who you may have been in contact with prior to travelling. Jersey falls within the UK’s CTA (Common Travel Area) but it is still important that you check both the gov.je and gov.uk websites to ensure you comply with the regulations as of the date of travel for each of the four home nations. Getting a test Since our last newsletter, more pharmacies are offering both PCR and lateral flow tests, so we have again contacted the original four private PCR test providers, as well as several other Island pharmacies. As the table below shows, prices and services vary so it’s important to shop around to get both the best price and correct test for your situation. We’ve been unable to get a specific breakdown of a PCR test cost but know it includes the fixed rate of the private testing laboratory. These pharmacies and surgery receive many calls a day from people asking for advice, taking bookings, as well as providing tests that have associated administration and staff costs. It’s worth asking if you’re eligible for a discount, as although one-off PCR tests will cost the price shown below, discounts are offered for repeat tests, multiple/group bookings and family discounts are being considered by some providers. As well as PCR and antigen lateral flow tests, some provide antibody lateral flow tests which can detect if you have previously had the virus (within a certain timeframe). Most of the companies we contacted will ensure you are given the appropriate test for your destination or circumstance, as you may not need (or be charged for) the PCR test you thought you needed and booked. Self-test antigen (lateral flow) kits are becoming more widely available on the Island but, similar to the free NHS kits in the UK, the results are not likely to be accepted by your destination, although some travel companies might accept the result. Home tests may include instructions on how to carry out an online supervised test. Most require the antigen test to be supervised with a result certificate being provided by the pharmacy/surgery. Currently, the Government of Jersey continues to support inbound travellers and returning Islanders by providing free PCR tests at the border (which is not provided in the UK). We will continue lobbying them for the reduction of outgoing Covid testing costs, possibly by a co-funding/subsidy scheme of the current providers. Table of tests, costs and services Pharmacy/Surgery PCR Test AntigenLateral Flow Test AntibodyLateral Flow Test 7 David Place GP £140Results 24hrs £50Test and certificate £50 – Test and ‘standard’ certificate£75 – Test and ‘Certificate of Recovery’(must have had Covid and developed antibodies) Castle Quay PharmacyPrices updated20 December 2021 £145Results 24hrs £45Test and certificateresults in 30 minutes N/A Health Plus Pharmacy £145Results 24hrs £45Test and certificate N/A LV Pharmacy £145Results 24hrs £50Test and certificate £35Test and certificate Little Grove Pharmacy £140Results 48hrs(24hrs soon) £30Test and certificate£7Single home use kit £50Test only (includes level of antibodies) Reid’s Pharmacy £145Results 24hrs £50Test and certificate £50Test and certificate St Martin’s Pharmacy £130Results 24 hrs £30Test and certificate £30 Test and certificate Lloyds Pharmacy N/A £43.74Test and certificate N/A Cleveland Pharmacy N/A £8Single home use kit N/A Island Medical Pharmacy N/A £7.95Single home use kit N/A Le Quesne’s Pharmacy N/A £7.95Single home use kit N/A Boots Pharmacy N/A N/A N/A Co-Op Pharmacy N/A N/A N/A Roseville Pharmacy N/A N/A N/A St John’s Pharmacy N/A N/A N/A Prices correct as at 16 August 2021 unless stated otherwise
Travel
30 June 2020

Airlines: Refund vs Voucher

The Consumer Council has been receiving queries from concerned Islanders regarding flight cancellations.  It appears that rather than giving a full refund, airline companies such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, are encouraging customers to take vouchers enabling them to travel at a later date.   The current law under the EU Convention and Regulation EU261, states that passengers are entitled to a full refund. However, companies are making the process difficult with a lack of on-line claim forms and excessive call centre wait times.    Airlines are being inundated with calls and are desperately trying to avoid having to pay out huge amounts in refunds. To protect their business, an industry body called Airlines UK is asking the UK government to temporarily change the law, allowing them to issue vouchers, instead of refunds. If refunds must be given, they want to delay the payments until after the coronavirus situation is over and flights return to normal.  Airlines are asking passengers to contact their debit and credit card providers to request a refund. Under Section 75 legislation, if a service such as this has not been provided and you paid between £100-£30,000, credit card providers may be liable.  If the amount was under £100 or you used a debit card, you may be able to use the chargeback scheme (see Which?UK’s page for further information).  If you paid via Paypal, you can try requesting a refund from them directly.  It is always advisable to contact the airline or tour operator first, and ideally receive a written confirmation that they will not refund you. This will strengthen your refund request from your card provider.  Several airlines have confirmed that passengers do not have to claim right away.   Our Chairman, Carl Walker, has this advice:  ‘It is very disappointing to see that both BA and easyJet are making it as difficult as possible for Islanders to claim a full refund for their tickets. If an airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a full refund. But it is clear that both these major airlines are trying to influence consumers to take vouchers instead. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as they are still offering the refund option, but only via the call centre, which obviously can take a very long time. My advice to consumers would be to wait for a few days at least, to allow the rush to subside. Then, pick your call times carefully. The start of the day is likely to be very busy, but late in the evening there may be less of a wait time on the phone.  And, consumers have a year to the day from the original flight date to claim the refund, so there is plenty of time. And, looking at the increasing pressure both airlines are coming under, I would not be surprised if an online refund option appears at some point.’    If you do accept a voucher, you should be aware that your consumer rights are not the same as someone who has a ticket. If a company goes into administration, you may lose your money.  There are many sites offering information, which may be of help, such as: https://www.abta.com/  https://www.iata.org/  https://www.caa.co.uk/home/  https://www.which.co.uk/   
Travel
04 June 2021

Booking travel is still extremely risky

With travel restrictions changing so quickly booking a summer holiday is risky. As has happened with Portugal, your destination country could be green when you book, yet turn amber or red by your departure date. Remember PCR tests may be required both before you depart and before you return potentially adding £100s to your trip. It’s important you understand your rights and travel insurance cover. Where possible, get written confirmation of what your travel company, airline or hotel will do for you should your travel plans be impacted. Package holidays often provide more cover than booking travel and hotels separately.