Andy’s month in money #24 and #25

What I’ve actually done this month to be clever with my cash.

There are a couple of thoughts behind this feature. Often there are small things I’m doing that don’t warrant a whole article so this can bring them together! Plus, it’s a great way to show that I “walk the walk” and really do follow my own advice!

So here are the key money matters from my own life in December 2023 and January 2024.

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In the pic: Andy appearing on Channel 5 in early January

Insurance frustrations

I genuinely enjoy researching most financial products, but I absolutely hate insurance. No matter how diligent I am, when it comes to making a claim there’s always some exclusion that means we’re not eligible or some fight in order to get something processed.

The latest was with our home insurance. There’s a leak somewhere in our basement. I imagined that my policy would at least cover finding the source of the water, but it turned out almost impossible to make a claim.

The issue was that only leaks from pipes were covered. So to find out if it was a leaking pipe, you needed a tracing survey. But they’d only pay for this if they knew in advance that it was a leaking pipe. Yet how are we meant to know if the leak is caused by a pipe or not without having a tracing survey?

So when it comes to renew our policy it’s something I’ll pay more attention to, but there no doubt will be other potential claims I don’t have a knowledge of that will catch us out again.

Still, it’s better to have it than not – a family friend recently had their entire house burn down!

Market research not worth the time

I wrote about apps to make money at the start of the year, and when I spotted an opportunity to mystery shop my local Five Guys I though it was worth a go. I’d get my meal refunded plus another £10 or so.

How wrong I was. First I need to be screened. This required answering a dozen or so questions, the answers to which were found by watching three or four short videos about the cooking and ordering processes. Except they didn’t, so I had to guess three or four.

And despite there being three chances to change responses, I couldn’t get it right. In total I’d wasted 20 minutes just on this.

And if I’d been accepted, then the time it would have taken to assess everything in the restaurant and then fill in the subsequent survey would possibly have added up to another 20 or 30 minutes.

So in hindsight I’m glad this didn’t happen. A free burger and fries plus a tenner certainly wouldn’t have justified losing close to an hour.

Amazon order error

Though long term readers will know I don’t use Amazon, there is the occasional exception. In this case I received some credit to my account that’s been sitting there for a while. So when I spotted a huge 67% discount on household cleaning item we regularly use, I ordered four packs (enough to push me over the £25 free delivery threshold).

There was a bit of a delay in the dispatch but when it finally arrived I was surprised to see just one of the four items. The courier didn’t have any more boxes for us, so I checked my Amazon account.

Not only had just one item been dispatched, but the order had been changed from four to one. That not only meant we’d missed out on three of the item at a bargain price, but since that lowered the total order price, we’d been charged for delivery!

I got on to live chat to query why this was. An hour later, after being passed between four different people, I got a phone call from a fifth customer service agent who was finally able to do something.

Though they couldn’t fulfil the initial order, they credited to my account the difference in the price I initially paid and the one on that day, totalling £40. Then they refunded the £6 delivery charge, and finally, after pushing, another £10 credit as a good will gesture.

What they couldn’t do was explain how or why my order was amended, or why it wasn’t communicated to me.

So why am I sharing this with you? First as a reminder to check what you’ve been charged, and if anything is wrong to complain and ask for compensation.

But also when it comes to customer service, stick with it. This took 75 minutes to sort, which is why I prefer web chats as at least you can be getting on with something else. However, it wasn’t until I got someone on the phone did the issue get sorted.

Haggling my niece’s SIM deal

Another painful web chat experience was helping my cut the cost of my niece’s SIM deal. The account is in her mum’s (my sister) name, so even though she could have called up and given permission for me to speak, it was a lot easier for me to say I was her.

The deal with Three had somehow increased over the last couple of years from around £8 to £16 – far too much to be paying right now.

She was out of contract, so before getting on the chat we did some quick research on a comparison site so we knew what we could get if we moved network.

Then on to the live chat. As expected, they tried to upsell, and as ever I had to repeat myself a number of times to push the conversation along. Again, it took a long time!

Eventually though I got the monthly price cut to £7 (saving £108 over the year) and blagged her an extra 4GB of data each month too!

Here are our tips for bringing down your mobile bills.

NOW TV cancellation hack

A while back I’d picked up Sky Sports on NOW TV on a discounted £19.99 a month deal for six months. Since my team Crystal Palace were on once during a month I decided it would be better to pay for a day pass at £11.99.

But unexpectedly, during the cancellation process I was offered an even better deal at £17.99 a month. Though I use this hack frequently to save on Entertainment, Cinema and Boost passes, it’s not one I’ve seen that often on Sports, especially not at that price.

Yes it’s £6 more than a month pass, but with two games on air in February and the chance this would require two day passes, it was actually a better deal to stay on for now.

However, while we’re on NOW TV, it looks like new deals are now requiring a minimum of six months when signing up. Whether this is just for brand new customers or if it’ll apply to existing customers cancelling we’ll have to see.

Ditching Which? a pain

I’ve had Which? for the last 9 or 10 months, but hardly get around to reading it. Fortunately it didn’t cost me anything thanks to a hack that appears two or three times a year which I share in our Deals of the Week.

However, with a year nearly up I decided to cancel. Now, with it being Which?, you’d expect to be able to cancel from your account. But sadly you have to call up or use web chat.

Now, this was relatively painless and took maybe 5 minutes (they did try to prevent me going by offering discounts), but the process is a barrier which goes against much of what Which? themselves stand for.

Ordering a statutory credit report

With Money Saving Expert due to move from Experian to TransUnion at some point this year for it’s Credit Club, it’ll mean you’ll no longer be able see your Experian report for free online.

When this eventually happens I’ll do a full update of our guide to checking all your reports for free, but in the meantime I checked out getting a statutory report direct from Experian.

This is free process, but it’s a bit of a faff. First you need to go to Experian’s website to request a code. Six days after this, it arrived in the post. Then I was able to use it to view a PDF of my report for two months from the initial request, though I was able to download it too.

Sadly the report itself was not as clear to follow as the version on MSE, and obviously if you want to do this on a regular basis, you’ll need to keep repeating the process. Hopefully, a new digital option will appear at some point.

And the rest…

I can’t remember everything but a few extras in brief…

  • I binged Prime Video before adverts were introduced on 5 February
  • I saved more than 50% on a big Boots order thanks to stacking three different flash offers
  • I picked up last minute 50% off theatre tickets via the TKTs website to see the fantastic Dear England

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4 thoughts on “Andy’s month in money #24 and #25

  1. From the picture I expected a happy story of appearing on Channel 5.
    Got an article full of negatives and having to fight the system. Did anything good happen?

    1. Ah, sadly being on C5 isn’t about my money so not one to write about.

      Had a lovely couple of months but not anything money related that is useful to share with everyone

  2. Surprised with your piece on Experian. I get a free monthly report with no rigmarole. I can’t now remember the signing up process, except that it was all done online

  3. Which? are disgraceful. I signed up for a free trial period via another site which paid a small reward for doing so. During the sign-up process I am convinced it said they wouldn’t go to the paid membership without explicitly telling me and getting my permission, and I assumed as it was Which that they wouldn’t do anything sneaky.

    Months later I noticed a Which payment on my credit card statement, and checking back they’d taken 6 payments, without my permission.

    I complained, explaining what had happened, and had a lengthy email exchange where they denied my version, and flatly refused to refund the money, despite the fact I’d never used it. I very much felt like they were saying “We’ve got your money and we’re keeping it. Tough luck.”

    I gave up but kept all the emails just in case, and a few years later there was an item on Radio 4’s You and Yours with someone who had exactly the same problem, except that he’d been caught out twice as he’d signed up for a second trial period.

    They got a Which spokesman on the programme who was very apologetic and contrite, and agreed he should get his money back.

    So I immediately fired an email to Which referring to the programme and suggesting I should get a refund too. I got the same response as before, they were actually going to stick to their refusal. Eventually I threatened to contact You and Yours and tell them that Which give a totally different response when they’re not getting national publicity, and eventually got a cheque from them for the full amount.

    Sorry it’s a long story, but they seem to be just like any other money grabbing organisation that don’t give a damn once they’ve got your money.

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