VICTORIA BISCHOFF: When things get back to normal, we need to remember the heroes (and villains) of the High Street
MY partner Chris and I live in a first floor apartment which, while beautiful, has no outside space.
So when our neighbor sent us a message out of the blue that we would use her front yard to enjoy the sun on a Sunday, I could have kissed her.
When things return to normal, we need to remember and respond to these little acts of kindness where possible.
Helping Hands: When things get back to normal, we need to remember and answer those little acts of kindness where possible
But as consumers, it’s also our job to remember the heroes (and villains) of the High Street.
As our letter editor Tony Hazell says today, this crisis is really sorting the good companies from the bad – those who have done their best and those who behaved badly, prioritizing their own bottom line.
It is important to keep in mind who has fallen on which side so that we know who our company deserves when all this is over.
That means banks need to be watched when it comes to providing much-needed help, be it small business loans or mortgage vacations for homeowners and landlords.
There are also people like Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin and Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley who have treated their staff so horribly.
In contrast, Joe Garner, CEO of Britain’s largest construction company Nationwide, volunteered to take out a 20 percent pay cut last week, sacrificing every bonus he owed him for fiscal 2019/2020.
And then there are the many supermarkets that have done the right thing by their exhausted staff by offering a small bonus as a thank you – or, as Iceland just announced, passing a £ 40m business holiday to ‘heroic’ workers .
We know that many companies are struggling to keep their heads above water, but that is no excuse to ignore customers or, worse, exploit them in an effort to minimize losses.
Money Mail’s mailbag has long served as a window into the world of ordinary customers, helping us to highlight abuses and celebrate success.
Our inboxes already provide a vivid picture of which companies are doing what, and we will not hesitate to name and be ashamed of those who behave badly.
Nominate your own hero or villain by writing to me at [email protected] and we’ll publish the best.
Two weeks ago, I urged banks to act and regain the trust of their customers by refraining from costly overdraft charges. Almost everyone answered our call to action, and those who were no longer forced by the City watchdog.
Today I beg insurers to also play their part.
Insurance must protect you against the unknown. So while it is understandable that insurers will remove coverage for Covid-19 related claims in the future, those who bought a policy before the pandemic was a known event should be protected.
Still, many companies have quickly rejected any responsibility by pointing out vague exclusions in the fine print. If customers, whether business owners, landlords, or vacationers, were not covered for pandemic-related disruptions, this should have been crystal clear when purchasing the policy and emphasized in their key features document. If not, the regulator would have to ask some very tricky questions.
The Financial Conduct Authority has already warned insurers that it expects companies to treat customers fairly and communicate any exclusions clearly.
I would also like to see some transparency about the money companies that have saved and lost. There are likely to be fewer claims for car accidents in the coming months if, for example, people do not travel to work.
Perhaps in return, insurers could help clients save a few pounds by waiving the administration fees they usually charge motorists to temporarily remove commuting coverage from their policy?
It would be no different than gyms that waive monthly membership fees, or telecom giants who let people cancel their sports subscriptions. Everyone has to do their part, and that also means insurers.