Shops and services

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If you notice any unfair business practices (e.g. profiteering) during this crisis, please report them using this online form.

CORONAVIRUS CONSUMER RIGHTS HUB

Which? have created a free, dedicated consumer rights and advice hub. This hub has updated advice about travel arrangements, postponed events and insurance issues, as well as helping people to spot scams, manage their finances and stay in touch with self-isolating family. 

MONEY SAVING EXPERT

This is advice available on the Money Saving Expert Website.

If you lost your job due to coronavirus, or were in the process of changing jobs, furlough may still be available. Before the furlough support was announced, many people were laid off by panicking firms. If that happened, speak to the firm - they are allowed to take you back on, to furlough you.

Energy bill help. Disconnections are suspended for customers of all providers - most are pushing back bill dates (and British Gas has confirmed it's removing late payment charges) for those struggling financially.

Sky Sports customers CAN now pause their subscription. Subscribers to Sky Sports (though not BT Sport) can now pause Sky Sports payments while sport is suspended.
Almost all train tickets are now refundable. Anyone with an advance ticket can now get a refund. Season ticket holders can get the unused portion of their ticket back but may have to pay a £10ish admin fee.

Contactless card limit increasing from £30 to £45 on 1 Apr. This is to reduce personal contact, though it may take some time to filter through to all retailers. Contactless limits often don't apply to mobile phone contactless payments.

Life insurance & income protection should still cover coronavirus. The same should be true with income protection policies. However, most critical illness policies won't define coronavirus as a critical illness.

Package holiday or flight cancelled? You're due cash, not vouchers - but that could change. When package holidays or flights are cancelled, the rules state you're due a full refund. Yet many firms are currently trying to direct you towards taking vouchers. Of course, if you're happy with vouchers then take them, as we need to support travel firms right now - but if not, you are due cash.

SUPERMARKETS

Most supermarkets have both changed their opening hours and set aside specific times for NHS staff and vulnerable customers to shop. Each supermarket has its own arrangements so please check online or at your local store for details.

Reduced opening times can also help allow more time for cleaning of stores, the replenishment of stock and for staff to rest at this extremely busy time.

Many supermarkets are introducing distancing measures to help reduce the risk of infection for both customers and staff, for example marking out distances at checkouts and asking customers who can to pay by card (this reduces contact and means everyone has to spend less time in store).

Delivery hours are also being amended to allow for deliveries day and night, helping keep shelves stocked.

If you feel that further changes are required please get in touch because MPs and MSPs are all in regular contact with the supermarkets.

Competition laws have also been set aside so that supermarkets can coordinate efforts locally, sharing staff, sharing delivery vehicles and coordinating opening hours.

Supermarkets are also recruiting more staff (see the employment section above for details of opportunities).

Smaller and independent shops are often well stocked. Use this as an opportunity to support local businesses.

ASDA

  • Tomorrow, our larger stores will be prioritising elderly and vulnerable customers, and their carers, from opening until 9am. We are asking other customers to leave their shopping until later in the day, allowing those who need essentials to be able to get them first thing.

  • Customers are now able to buy only up to three of any product across all food items, toiletries and cleaning products, to help everyone get what they need.

  • We are temporarily closing non-essential services, such as rotisserie and pizza counters, allowing us to free up space and time for colleagues
  • We are temporarily limiting the opening hours of some stores to ensure they have time to restock and thoroughly clean.

  • We’re asking online customers to advise us when ordering if they are self-isolating so we can make adjustments to their delivery.

For those out of work:

  • We are working with more than 20 companies to take on workers whose normal jobs have been impacted by Covid-19 – including Moto motorway services and Menzies, who operate airport baggage handling. Colleagues from these companies will be offered shifts or a temporary secondments to Asda roles, ensuring individuals remain in work and companies do not have the additional pressure of staff costs during this crisis
  • We’re also offering quick-start, temporary contracts in our stores and distribution centres for people looking for work

For our suppliers:

  • We are paying our small suppliers immediately to help them keep their business operating
  • We’re providing a three month rent holiday to around 250 small business tenants in our stores who are struggling to operate during these unprecedented times
  • We are offering local cafes and restaurants the opportunity to take on additional catering services and help feed colleagues who are working around the clock to keep shelves stocked

PANIC BUYING 

The message is simple: stop stockpiling. We are not going to run out of food, but supermarkets are struggling to restock the shelves fast enough to meet the excessive demand.

Only buy what you need from the shops. Buying too much prevents others getting what they need. Older people and NHS staff who have just finished 12 hour shifts should never be faced with empty shelves and we all have a responsibility to help make sure that doesn’t happen.

The behaviour we have seen in various supermarkets does not reflect well on us as a community.

Staff should never have to endure abuse, especially when enforcing sensible and proportionate restrictions which are in place to help vulnerable shoppers get what they need.

Manufacturers have produced around 50% more food than they usually would. £1 billion of extra stock was bought across the UK during the first couple of weeks of the Coronavirus crisis in the UK. This is extra food that is now in people’s homes.

RATIONING 

There is no need for government to impose rationing. Stockpiling and panic buying is just creating problems where they don’t exist.

Supermarkets are already capping the purchase of products in high demand.

Irrespective, there is more than enough to go around. The challenge retailers have faced is keeping shelves stocked and replenishing aisles in time in the face of increased purchasing behaviour. This is creating a perception of food shortages, but that is a false picture and the pressure on supply can be eased by shoppers just buying what they need rather than stockpiling.

Retailers have well rehearsed plans to get food and other essentials into their stores, and it is something that they already do regularly around peak times such as Christmas.

People just need to shop sensibly and stop panic buying and purchasing more than they need.

FOODBANKS

The Trussell Trust has a ‘food bank finder’ and advice here. If you have no money for food, please do use them.

There are food bank donation points in many supermarkets and food stores. The aforementioned link also provides a means to contact your local food bank to donate food.

It is critical that everything is done to help foodbanks to operate effectively, at a time when they may be needed more than ever.

Food banks typically rely on volunteers, and many existing volunteers are having to self-isolate, so if you are well and able then you can help by offering them your time.

Panic buying also prevents foodbanks from getting supermarket delivery slots, so through everyone shopping responsibly we can help foodbanks meet demand.

The Scottish Government has already announced a £70 million food fund to help support families that would otherwise be unable to access food.

Arrangements will be made at a local authority level to ensure children who qualify for school meals can continue to be able to access healthy nutritious food. You should check with your local authority what the arrangements are in your area.

HOME DELIVERIES

Outlets such as restaurants and cafes that have been ordered to close are allowed to offer home delivery.

 

HOW COMPANIES ARE HELPING

ENERGY AND UTILITIES

The following have pdf links - click to see their statements: Utlita  Energy UK  E.On Scottish Power SSE.

TV/ENTERTAINMENT

BBC - For further details on how BBC News will keep audiences informed click here.

SKY 1 Sky 2 - see below for further details:

  • Calls to UK landlines at any time of day will be free for existing Sky Talk customers from this weekend to the end of April.

  • All Sky Mobile customers will get a 10GB data boost into their Piggybanks, free of charge. This can be shared across all the SIMs on the account.

  • The Broadband, Talk and Mobile networks have been designed to handle high traffic peaks at all times of the day and night, and Sky’s network engineers are working hard to ensure they are tested, monitored and improved 24/7.

  • Call centres and engineers will prioritise the needs of existing customers to ensure their service keeps running smoothly.

  • Sky Go Extra will be available to all customers for free, so busy homes will have access to Sky TV on three screens at the same time.

  • YouTube kids and Disney+ will be coming to Sky Q in the coming weeks, to give families even more entertainment choices.

CONNECTIVITY PROVIDERS

Talk-Talk- For further details see this pdf of practical advice for customers and pledges to help vulnerable customers during this crisis

Tesco Mobile - There are now no data fees for visiting NHS websites. You can stay on track of what you're using by texting BALANCE to 2112.

BANKS

Many banks have created a dedicated support line for customers over 70.

These three are open 8am-8pm 7 days a week.  

  • NatWest – 0800 051 4176

  • Royal Bank of Scotland – 0800 051 4177

  • Ulster NI – 0800 092 4238

  • Santander - 0800 01 56 382 (Mon-Fri 9-5, Sat 9-4)

There are also dedicated hotlines for NHS workers which are open 24/7. 

  • NatWest – 0800 046 2418

  • Royal Bank of Scotland – 0800 0466734

  • Ulster NI – 0800 0466778

Barclays have asked that you contact them online as your first port of call.
More details about that and the other services provided during the crisis are here

OTHER SHOPS AND SERVICES

BootsClosing their stores for an hour each day to clean, adding perspex to all Pharmacy counters and expanding the capacity of their free online repeat prescription service (and prescription delivery service). 

Sykes Holiday Cottages - Free amendments to bookings for anyone due to travel before the 4th of June. 

AirBnB - Launched a programme connecting NHS Workers with free accommodation!

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