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Boots Opticians won’t refund me for glasses that cost £595

I have a problem with a pair of varifocal glasses and prescription sunglasses I bought from the Witham, Essex branch of Boots in February, but it won’t refund me the full £595 paid. 

Please can you help?

K. E., Essex.

Completely unsatisfied: Boots didn’t want to issue a full refund to a customer whose new glasses gave them a headache despite its ‘complete satisfaction guarantee’

You explained to me that when you tried out your new specs, the distance vision in your right eye felt wrong and made you feel disorientated. 

You wondered whether the varifocal fields were positioned incorrectly, so reported your suspicions straight away and well within the time limit for raising any concerns.

Boots Opticians boasts a ‘complete satisfaction guarantee’, which states: ‘If you’re not happy with your purchase, no problem, we’ll replace it for something else you love. Just return your product to store with proof of purchase within 30 days.’

You didn’t need 20-20 vision to spot this important feature in its terms and conditions. However, rather than replace the suboptimal specs, the optician tried to make them work for you.

You returned several times to the store, with staff adjusting the fit and positioning, and even carrying out a further eye test.

They concluded the prescription and glasses were correct and that you would have to accept the limitations to your vision.

You tried to get on with the new glasses but, in the end, sought a second opinion from another optician, Specsavers, in September.

It carried out a further eye test and found a different prescription in your right eye. It made you a new pair of glasses — as well as reusing the Boots sunglasses frames.

You found your vision improved considerably, and returned to Boots to obtain a refund of £595 for the original purchase.

At this point, Boots offered to make you a new pair instead, which you declined because you had now purchased a satisfactory pair elsewhere. And, more importantly, you had lost confidence in its ability to provide you with what you needed.

You argued your case again over the fields being incorrectly positioned.

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>> Beat the scammers: Tips and tricks to avoid becoming a victim 

Boots suggested it was a change in your prescription since you first ordered your glasses that must be to blame. 

The store offered a refund of £250, which you reluctantly accepted; but you also resolved to take your complaint further.

You contacted Boots Opticians’ customer services, which told you that, as the branch was a franchise, it could not help.

You felt it unacceptable for Boots to shirk responsibility for the actions of franchisees that operate under its name and reputation, and complained a second time. On this occasion you were referred to the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS).

This service mediates between customers and opticians on disputes relating to the supply of spectacles and contact lenses and other eyecare. Complaints relating to negligence or fitness to practice are overseen by the General Optical Council.

Before attempting the OCCS route, you contacted me.

I felt you had a strong case, not only because of Boots’ own customer satisfaction guarantee, but because the Consumer Rights Act 2015 has rules to protect shoppers, even those buying something made specifically for them that cannot be resold to someone else.

Although buyers of prescription spectacles are not automatically entitled to a refund if they change their mind, they are protected if the glasses turn out not to be fit for purpose, which was what happened in your case.

It seemed to me that in this instance Boots had lost focus on customer service and so I asked it to re-examine your complaint. I am pleased to say it responded quickly and the store soon agreed to refund you as a gesture of goodwill.

You were asked to return the original spectacles, which you were happy to do, although it deducted £120 for the sunglasses frames you had already reused.

With £250 previously refunded, you received a further £225 — so a total of £475.

A Boots spokesman says: ‘The store refunded the cost of the glasses to the customer as a goodwill gesture, despite it being seven months after she received them. The customer was happy with the frames, so the total cost was refunded, minus the cost of the frames. The customer was happy with the outcome and the case has been resolved.’

Fined £100 for keeping my car safe 

I dropped a friend off at Liverpool Airport. As I left, I noticed the rear driver’s side door was not closed properly.

I stopped so my partner could get out and shut it as we did not want it to fly open. We were stationary for less than a minute.

Two weeks later we received a £100 penalty. I appealed to the parking company but was turned down. 

I appealed to an independent authority and was turned down again.

I went to arbitration and was informed I must pay up. 

We’re both pensioners and £100 is a lot of money to have to find particularly with the energy crisis and Christmas with grandchildren.

L. L, Liverpool.

>> How to appeal a parking ticket and win 

It is a stressful and often expensive business driving near an airport. Many have introduced charges just for dropping passengers off to help recoup the financial losses that mounted during the pandemic. 

Parking charge notices for breaches is another way to bring in the cash.

Although restrictions are necessary for safety and security, I felt the authorities had been too harsh in your case so asked Liverpool Airport to investigate.

It checked the CCTV and explained you had halted on one of the airport’s red routes, where there are signs warning of parking charge notices.

To the parking contractor, it appeared as if you’d picked your partner up as a passenger.

A Liverpool Airport spokesman says: ‘We looked into this further and confirmed the vehicle used one of the airport car parks moments before stopping on the ‘red route’, which is likely to have been for the purpose of dropping off a passenger, as per the explanation given by the driver, and that the reason for stopping on the red route will have been just to secure the vehicle’s rear door.

‘As a consequence, despite the vehicle stopping on the red route, as a gesture of goodwill this PCN will be now be waived.’

Straight to the point 

I ordered a dress from Mona.co, a ladies’ clothing catalogue, for £99 on September 10. 

The dress didn’t fit so I sent it back on September 16 and I’m yet to receive a refund.

M. B., Lincolnshire.

Mona has apologised for the delay in processing your payment and has since issued you with a full refund.

*** 

I used to receive HSBC statements by post but they suddenly stopped a few months ago. 

I have called HSBC, spoken to staff in store and sent letters but nothing has been done. I’m 90 years old and use a wheelchair. Please help.

E.M., Derby.

HSBC has contacted you to apologise for the issue, which it says was caused by human error. 

Your postal statements have been reinstated and you have been offered £70 as a gesture of goodwill.

*** 

I purchased a mini oven from Amazon but was unable to use it because the instructions were in Japanese. 

I returned the oven but am struggling to get the £191.27 refund.

C. C., via email.

Amazon apologised for the delay and have now refunded you in full and offered you a £30 gift card as a gesture of goodwill.

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