How being a refund rebel banked me £100+

Being a refund rebel involves a little bit of time, a good turn of phrase and a willingness to look like the awkward squad. Is it worth it? Hell yes! I got more than £100 back in my bank account by asking for refunds recently – here’s why and how I did it…

Question – have you had an experience recently as a consumer that wasn’t great? If so, did you do anything about it? Did you email the company, give them a ring, let them know you weren’t happy? Or did you just let it slide? After all, life is complicated and busy, so who has the time to sit around moaning?

Well, I’m here to extol the virtues of being a refund rebel – i.e. refusing to accept bad service or products, and asking for refunds when I think they’re merited. I think it’s one of the most effective and satisfying ways you can beat the system and I’ve banked over a hundred pounds recently by being a refund rebel.

One example? A hotel I stayed in recently had issues with their plumbing, so I had no choice but to use the service lifts as they weren’t stairs up to my room, there was a drip and small damp patch in my room, and the hot water was turned off in the morning after 9.30am.

It wasn’t the worst experience ever, but it certainly wasn’t brilliant (although I did rather enjoy pretending to be ‘on the run’ like some 90s action hero by using the usually out-of-bounds service lifts…)

The hotel wasn’t actively offering refunds, so it was only I made a very polite complaint via email afterwards that I got one. How many customers would have just shrugged their shoulders and accepted what happened, paying full whack for an experience that wasn’t really up to scratch? The pure time it took me to complain, receive and acknowledge a refund was no more 30 mins.

And just in case you thought I limited my refund rebellions to the big bucks, here’s an example that you might think is either brilliant or bonkers.

When I bought two anti-perspirants recently that didn’t work properly, did I just throw them away and write off the money? No siree, I actually emailed Proctor and Gamble, the manufacturer, who just asked for the barcode and batchcode on the products as well as my account details and hey presto, I got my refund within days.

It was both the principle of refusing to pay for a dud and the fact that I really didn’t want to be out of pocket that motivated me. I’d say the whole thing took about ten minutes in total, so the time-money ratio felt about right to me.

Here are some tips on how to make it work for you:

  • Take pictures/video so you have proof. It helps to back up any claims you make and avoids you looking like a chancer.
  • Be polite. State what happened and why you weren’t satisfied in a calm, factual way without resorting to hyperbole.
  • Receipts aren’t essential – I didn’t need them to get my refund from Proctor and Gamble – but they can certainly be helpful.
  • Suss out the time-money ratio. I’d say anything that’s worth £2 – £10 pounds is worth 5-10 mins of complaining time, but no more.
  • Don’t be a dick. Always be honest with yourself – AIBU? – and if in doubt, ask a trusted friend. Also, small, independent businesses deserve more leeway.

Being a refund rebel does involve a bit of effort, but when it can get £100 back in your bank account, I think it’s well worth it.

Go forth and rebel!

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