Buyer beware – cheap deals can be costly

Cheap copywriters can cost you more. As with so many other purchases, money saved on buying the cheapest writers out there is often a false economy. You then end up having to shell out again to hire someone competent to get the work done properly. In other words: “Buy cheap, buy twice.”  The hidden costs can come to more than just rewriting bad copy too, especially if the writer hasn’t kept up to date with our ever-changing and increasingly complex media law.

Quality seldom comes cheap
Penny wise, pound foolish?

You may be able to find cheaper writers (although WYC rates are very competitive), but the hard-earned reputation of your brand could be at stake through sloppy content, your web presence could be harmed by out-of-date SEO practices like keyword stuffing, and an incompetent writer could even cause you costly lawyers’ bills.  

I would strongly recommend hiring writers that have worked in journalism, as journalists have a very solid grounding in all aspects of media law as well as the ability to write for a wide range of markets and customer profiles.

Too good to be true

Confession time here. Even people who consider themselves pretty canny can be a sucker for a ‘bargain’ when caught off guard. I had one such lapse last year, when I took out some cheap breakdown cover for a car I had just bought and didn’t fully trust for the long drive from Yorkshire to Somerset and back. I was working as stage crew at Glastonbury Festival, which is a much better experience than being a paying punter these days – but that’s another story.

“So why didn’t you just use the AA or RAC?” you might justifiably ask. I had used my insurer’s breakdown cover for several years, which was a much better deal than the mainstream breakdown services if you wanted the equivalent of the AA’s full ‘Relay’ service. But I had also changed my car insurer, as my previous insurer wasn’t matching the best quotes any more. Unfortunately, the new insurer’s breakdown cover was much more expensive than the previous company’s and, as I was taking a couple of weeks of unpaid holiday (one of the banes of being a freelancer), I was on the lookout for a cheap alternative.

You’re fired!

Enter Dynamo Cover Ltd (trading as RecoverCover), which I now know is led by former Apprentice contestant Alex Mills and run from a small business park unit in the seaside resort of Barry, South Wales. It seemed a very good deal on their website – for about £34, I could cover my humble Peugeot 206 for Roadside Assistance, National Recovery, Home Assist, Alternative Travel and Overnight Accommodation. Evidently it was a little too good to be true  the nearly three pages of exclusion clauses should have been a flashing neon warning sign. But the cover was only bought on a last-minute whim for peace of mind. Besides, for just £34, what could possibly go wrong?

Dynamo Cover HQ
Dynamo Cover’s HQ is a unit in this Barry business park. (Credit: Google Maps)

Unexpected item in credit card area

Fortunately I didn’t have any cause to use RecoverCover’s service, which is just as well as their Trustpilot ratings here and here are shocking. There are so many catches, excesses and get-out clauses that it’s hard to envisage anything that you are covered for. In my defence, I took out cover starting 16 June 2017 and the first of very many bad reviews didn’t appear until August 2017.

But the worst was yet to come. I had pretty much forgotten about this company until Saturday, 9 June 2018, when I received an email thanking me for renewing their cover (which I absolutely had not done), to start on 16 June 2018, and telling me £29.90 had been taken from my credit card.  I rang their hotline immediately to say that I had not authorised this payment or the renewal and I wanted my money refunding, but just heard a recorded message saying their office hours were Monday to Friday.

Know your rights

So I emailed them to say I had not authorised the renewal or the payment and immediately contacted my credit card provider to exercise my right to cancel the payment and any ‘Continuous Payment Authority’ claimed by RecoverCover. 

By Monday morning, RecoverCover had woken up.  Shannon, their customer sales manager, insisted that if the card provider issues a chargeback, they would still pursue me for this money for this “service” that I did not order and which in my opinion is not worth the pixels it is written on. In a later phone conversation with another employee called Chris, I was even told that I could still cancel the so-called “cover” but I would not get my money back(!) and there would be an additional £6.99 cancellation fee for the privilege.

The dispute is still ongoing, so I won’t go into further details just yet, but I believe that consumer law is on my side and I will eventually get my money (plus costs) back, despite the best efforts of RecoverCover/Dynamo to hang on to it. The amounts involved are small, of course, but it’s the principle that matters and costs may escalate if it ends up in court.

So let this be a cautionary tale about false economies, whatever line of business you’re looking at. It will often cost you more in the long run. 

Oh, and if any former Apprentice contestants are reading this YOU’RE FIRED!

4 Replies to “Buyer beware – cheap deals can be costly”

  1. That Recover cover sound like a right bunch of crooks! Surely it’s not legal to just take money from your card if you didn’t order it? x

  2. Thanks, Gemma. Companies can no longer take whatever they like, whenever they like, from your card just because they have your details from a previous purchase.

    The Payment Services Regulations 2009 are your friend here. You can go straight to your card provider and get the ‘Continuous Payment Authority’ cancelled and any unauthorised payments refunded through a chargeback.

    RecoverCover claim that simply sending an email out of the blue saying they will renew your policy automatically, unless you get back to them to say you don’t want this, constitutes consent. This is a form of “inertia selling” and their position is fundamentally very weak. They can hardly claim that people are agreeing to their renewal when they have specifically said they don’t want it BEFORE THE COVER EVEN STARTS.

    Since a number of people have already shown interest in this part of the post, I may give an update in a new post when there are new developments. In the meantime, remember that you get what you pay for. 🙂

  3. Interesting article. I’ve had very similar experience. One email from Recover Cover to thank me for renewing and then my money taken just 3 days later with no prior consent. Didn’t check any of this (which is what they’re banking on) until 2 months later and have seen all the other complaints. I would be interested to see how your case progresses.

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Richard. Sorry for the delay in approving your comment, I was away and missed the notification.

      In my case, the credit card company eventually issued a chargeback. RecoverCover apparently have 60 days to appeal against that and justify the charge but so far I haven’t heard anything more. I’ll write an update if anything changes.

      Going by the Trustpilot comments, a lot of people seem to be having success with complaints through the Financial Services Ombudsman, so that is one possible route to take instead of going to the small claims court.

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