T is for… Taste London – customer service deficit

Posted on 21st May 2010 in auto renewal/ bad service/ complaint/ customer service/ debt/ review/ taste london/ theft

For anyone who has a taste london card, please be aware of their auto renewal clause. I signed up for a taste london card after receiving a 50% off special offer email. I did not know that I had signed up for auto renewal.

I tried to use my card in the restaurants stated, but each time I tried the restaurants said that because they had other incentives running the card could not be used. I wrote it off as a bad purchase and forgot about it until recently when I spotted that taste london had debited my account. I then immediately emailed them – via their website as they don’t show any actual email addresses – and below you will find a copy of the emails in which they repeatedly refuse to issue a refund.

Web site enquiry

number2: Hi – you seem to have deducted £29.95 from my bank account but I didn’t actually want to renew my card. Please can you cancel this and refund my account.
Many thanks.

Tue 4th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

When you first join tastelondon you cannot proceed with your order until you have clicked that you accept the terms and conditions of the membership (copy below). I am unable to offer you a refund however if you do not feel you will use the card over the next 12 months but a friend or family member may benefit instead please return the card to me with details of their full name and I can transfer this for you.
You must read, agree and accept all of the terms and conditions expressly set out below and those incorporated by reference before you may become a member.

We reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time by giving you Notice (“Notice”) by posting the amended terms and conditions on the Site.

Any amended terms and conditions will govern new memberships after the expiry of 30 days following the date of the Notice

“We”, “Ourselves”, “Our”- means Taste London and Taste Marketing Ltd

“Site”- means www.tasteuk.co.uk

1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Tuesday 4th May 2010

Hi TasteLondonEmployee,

Thank you for your email.

I am very unhappy with your response. If you make it compulsory for people to tick the autorenew option then I do not believe that to be fair and I certainly did not realise that I had done that when I bought the card.

I do not want my card to be renewed. I do not live in London and I have not been able to use the card as the restaurants that I have tried to use it in have always had other promotions on at the time meaning that the card cannot be used – thus making the card pointless.

If you are unable to issue a refund I would be grateful if you could pass this matter onto your supervisor.

I look forward to receiving confirmation of my refund.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for your reply. The reason why we do not allow customers to proceed with their order until they have clicked that they have read and understood the terms and conditions is to avoid circumstances such as this. I have cancelled your renewal for 2011 and as I said before we can transfer the membership to a friend or family member for the next 12 months if this is something you would be interested in.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Wednesday 5th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have written to my bank today to complain about this under the terms of the Direct Debit guarantee.

I do not agree that I gave you permission to auto-renew. I did not receive an email ‘reminding me of the renewal’ (as stated in your email of the 4th of May) if I had of done I would then have cancelled the subscription – within the permitted timescale.

I would again request that you do the decent thing and cancel my renewal and refund the debit.

If you refuse to do so, I hope that the bank will be able to enforce the Direct Debit guarantee. Either way, I think this is an appalling lack of customer service on your behalf.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

Thank you for your subsequent email. Our subscription is not a direct debit, it is a continuous authority transaction and therefore not covered by the guarantee to which you refer.

I hope this helps clarify, I am now away from the office until Monday 10th May. If you would like to transfer the membership into another name please contact a member of the customer service team on the free phone number below.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Thursday 6th May 2010

No TasteLondonEmployee, it does not clarify.

I makes it sound even more like a sneaky loop hole built in to ensnare the unsuspecting.

However, as you did not honour your own terms and conditions, it is quite clear that you have violated them and I would like a full and immediate refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

I still have not had confirmation of the refund.

Please can you action this and confirm urgently. As we have established, I did not want the card renewed. I did not receive any notification of the renewal and I would like a full and immediate refund. If you are not authorised to action this please can you kindly pass it on to someone who is.

Many thanks,

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

As I said before I am the Operations Director for Taste Marketing Limited and I cannot process a refund for you. I can transfer the card into the name of a friend or family member instead if you would like to do so.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have absolutely no intention of letting this drop.

You have renewed the card without my permission and I want a refund.

As you have refused several times to give me a refund I will now look into how I can escalate this complaint. I am absolutely disgusted with the attitude of taste london over this matter and think you need to take a long hard look at your customer service. If you believe that tricking people into renewal is good practice then you are very wrong.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

At no point have you been tricked into a refund and it’s disappointing that you have suggested this in your email, you yourself accepted the terms and conditions of the membership when you joined and this would also have been flagged as a reoccurring transaction on your bank statement at the time.

With almost 200,000 members we cannot waive these terms or get into a situation where we are making any special exceptions. That said when a member does forgot to cancel their membership we do everything we can to assist them in transferring this and cancelling the renewal for the following year.

Kind regards,

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I was not aware that I had signed up for anything other than a 1 year membership.

In your email of 4th May you said “1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I did not receive a reminder. As such I feel that I was tricked.

I have explained to you that I have been unable to use the card. I have asked you 6 times for a refund. As stated in my last email I am now looking into ways to take this further. My bank have already assured me that they agree with me that payment should not have been taken and they will be contacting taste london to request a refund. In addition to this I am now investigating whether the financial ombudsman or the office of fair trading will be the most appropriate person to complain to, I have emailed Money Saving Expert for their advice, I have asked on Twitter what people suggest (and warned them not to be tricked in the same way) and I will now continue to seek further ways to complain.

As I said in virtually every email, I am disappointed and quite frankly disgusted that you have refused to refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

I can assure you that our transactions are all perfectly legal, not in any way misleading and have been reviewed and approved by all the relevant authorities. We work closely with Money Saving Expert and they are fully aware of the terms and conditions of our membership. We will have sent you the reminder email however there are a number of firewalls that block certain traffic – for example those with links to social networking sites which is why we also notify members when they first join that we cannot control any correspondence which does not get delivered.

We do have exceptional levels of customer service which is reflected in the high percentage of members who stay with tastelondon year on year and take the time to write in offering their thanks or congratulating the team on the work they do. Members cannot proceed with their initial order without first confirming that they have fully read and accepted the terms and conditions of the scheme which quite clearly state that this will renew unless we are notified otherwise. We allow members to do so at any point within the twelve months, providing this is no later than 7 days before the expiry date on their card.

When you do contact your bank they will inform you of the details of your initial transaction and verify the legality of the “continuous authorised transaction” which you yourself accepted and authorised . I have noted that you are seeking advice from the financial ombudsman and the office of fair trading who will also confirm the same, therefore I shall now leave the matter and assume it closed.

On behalf of everyone at tastelondon I would like to thank you for your custom and wish you the very best for the future.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

Whether or not you consider the matter closed – it is not.

I have already contacted my bank who, if you read my earlier email, do not agree with you and have confirmed that they are writing to you to request a refund.

I would be grateful if you could send me a copy of the document which you have stated “which you yourself accepted and authorised” along with a copy of the email that was sent to me “approximately 3 weeks before renewal is due” .

Your arrogance during this matter has been most unpleasant, please can you also provide me with the taste london complaints procedure along with clear details of how I can escalate this complaint within your company.

I look forward to hearing from you and receiving the items requested above.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

It has just occurred to me that I have not received a new card anyway!

IF you have sent a new card, you need to cancel it immediately. And please DO NOT issue a further one.

Lisa

Friday 21st May 2010

Good morning Lisa, I will answer both your emails at the same time.

Firstly with reference to the non receipt of the renewed card, I note from our earlier correspondence that you no longer reside in London therefore I assume that you had not updated your address details with us and the pack will be at your old address. Under normal circumstances we ask for the card to be returned to us before we re-issue it in the name of a friend or family member but I had already taken that into consideration and offered to issue one without receipt of the original.

As our terms and conditions have been approved by all the financial regulators the matter is closed. I am disappointed to hear that you feel the company and I myself are arrogant in our approach, this is certainly not the case. We offer a fluid and ease of transition service to all our members, as I said before we prevent you from being able to join the scheme in the first place before you confirm that you have read and accepted our terms and conditions.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Friday 21st May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have never lived in London.

I have not received the card and would again request that you therefore cancel it with immediate effect and that you do not print a new one.

I look forward to receiving your confirmation of this along with the items requested in my previous email.

Lisa


No reply, as yet, will update if/when there is an outcome.

UPDATE  – I am delighted to say that on the 26 May 2010 the sum of £29.95 was re-credited to my account by my bank who are now going to take the matter up with Taste London themselves.

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23 Comments

  • Reply sheila2010 21st May 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Lisa you poor thing – if they think they they are anyway a “good company” then the first thing they needed to do was refund your money and apologise for their mistake.
    Its is obvious from your log of events that they are completely out of order. The system they are running seems almost illegal – dont let it lie – keep at it. Have you tried speaking to Office of Fair Trading – I had to use them once and found them very helpful. If not contact one of the local papers in their area.

    Good luck – keep us posted
    Sheila

    • Reply mrsljhall 22nd May 2010 at 8:51 am

      Thanks Sheila, to be honest a sincere apology in the first instance would have gone a long way – it’s the arrogance that really got to me x

  • Reply Andy Golding 24th May 2010 at 8:00 am

    Hi Lisa
    This is extremely porr practice by this firm. It may be worth asking the credit company to look at the auto renewal piece, but I would alwasy argue against credit card auto renewal debits as thye are not as good as DD’d when things go wrong.

    Unless they can supply proof of renewal reminder emial, I would keep pushing, suggest get the name of CEO and write ratehr tahn email.

    Good post!

  • Reply Danny 13th November 2010 at 12:56 pm

    So you agreed to their terms and conditions (basically you couldn’t be bothered to read them so just clicked yes) and now you disagree with them. Sorry you have no one else but to blame for your laziness

    • Reply mrsljhall 13th November 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Danny, it was the attitude of the customer service representative that I objected to, plus that I personally don’t feel that auto-renewal is an upfront and honest method of customer retention. It’s my opinion, to which I am entitled. As you found my blog by searching ‘cancel taste london’ I find it odd that you are so aggressive and unpleasant in your comment. But hey – you are a long way from Boston so maybe you are just having a bad day. Thanks for reading and commenting, Lisa

  • Reply Greer 13th November 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Well done for your persistence! I wouldn’t have lasted that long.

  • Reply Dan Zambonini 2nd December 2010 at 11:02 am

    Hi Lisa,

    I just got stung by EXACTLY the same con (I’ve been out of the country for 6 months, and just noticed a strange 30 quid transaction on my account). They too refused outright to refund me, so I persisted with my bank to credit my account, and they are now launching an investigation.

    Buyer beware – Taste London are con artists.

    Thanks for putting this online to try to prevent it happening to other people,

    Dan

    • Reply mrsljhall 2nd December 2010 at 11:14 am

      Hi Dan,

      As you can see I have taken a fair bit of flack for posting about this – but in my eyes it is a complete con backed up by inferior customer service.

      My bank refunded me and claimed the money back from Taste London – which kinda shows that they are in the wrong.

      Thanks for commenting, glad you got your money back too!

      Lisa

    • Reply A. Lymington 28th November 2015 at 2:36 pm

      They are absolute con artists and their customer service is non-existent!! Look at how many people are complaining about them on the net. #wastecard #badcustomerservice

  • Reply Amy 3rd December 2010 at 3:07 am

    Hi Lisa,

    My partner Dan (who commented above) just created a petition about this, which you may be interested in signing and commenting on. It’s located here: http://www.groubal.com/taste-card-london-auto-renew-scam/ (not spam, I promise).

    As for the guy who says it’s your fault for not reading the terms and conditions – that’s completely bogus. A company should have to explicitly seek your permission in order to be able to access your bank account and withdraw month – at the least I would expect them to high light that part of the terms and conditions and have you initial or if you’re buying online, click a radio button indicating that you give them permission to annually withdraw money. They’ve hidden it precisely for this reason – because they know most people don’t read all the fine print and they want to rip you off.

    So annoying and unprofessional!

  • Reply Steven 31st August 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve little more to add except that the exact same thing has just happened to me. The customer service desk was just as rude and we kept going round in circles. I’ve just been to the bank and they told me that they can’t help as I accepted the terms and conditions. Something needs to be done about this company.

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 31st August 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Write to your bank and cancel the direct debit or standing order. Then tell them that the terms and conditions weren’t carried out correctly and as such you would like them to reclaim the payment from tastelondon. Part of the t&c states that they will contact you at least 2 weeks prior to renewal to ask if you want to renew – I bet they didn’t.

      • Reply Steven 31st August 2011 at 1:24 pm

        Thanks Lisa, I will try this.

  • Reply phil gardner 24th November 2011 at 2:07 pm

    And I’m now another ‘victim’ of this scam. Renewed automatically without receipt of a single email on the subject. Isn’t it amazing that the ‘Thanks for Renewing’ emails always get through, but the notifications warning what it’s about to happen, don’t. These people are moral con-artists, irrespective of the T&C’s stance they hide behind. My payment was by VISA and I shall now try to pursue them that way. This is obscene.

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 24th November 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Amazing they get away with it isn’t it. When I was trying to get my money back I was actually told ‘good luck as we have the full backing of Martin Lewis’. Do persevere with it, I did get my money back and you should too. They don’t have a right to take the money if you haven’t agreed to it. Good luck.

  • Reply Nick 22nd February 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I experienced exactly the same but I would like to add the following: Only the reminder email found its way into my spam folder yet ALL other mails from them made it into my inbox.

    I found they send their reminder email with a different ‘reply-to address’ from all the other emails. Now is this to ensure it gets into your spam folder? When I complained about this they said:

    “The renewal email is sent from noreply@tastecard.co.uk due to this being a no reply email address some email accounts will pick this up as being spam.”

    This statement is not entirely true, all they emails are sent from noreply@tastecard.co.uk but the renewal reminder has a different ‘reply-to’ address, namely ‘enquiries@tastecard.co.uk’ which is probably what is causing gmail to file it as spam.

    Would this evidence provide any more traction in this case?

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 22nd February 2012 at 4:59 pm

      I found I didn’t need any further evidence. They were unable to prove that I’d been notified at all about the renewal and my bank felt that the direct debit agreement hadn’t been honoured and so they refunded me and claimed the money bank from tastelondon.

      I would suggest you go via your bank rather than dealing with the people at tastelondon who are clearly trained to try and talk their way out of this.

      I think it’s an absolute disgrace that this is still going on when so many people have complained about it!

  • Reply Nick 22nd February 2012 at 5:08 pm

    As previously mentioned the direct debit agreement does not apply in this case or yours as it is a credit card payment.

    They also would be able to prove they sent me an email, because they did.

    But I guess I can still try my bank.

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 22nd February 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Sorry, yes you are of course correct about the DD agreement.

      I think I wrote to my bank and said I hadn’t authorised the payment, that I’d requested cancellation and refund and that tastelondon were refusing and they just wrote back and said they’d credited my account and that they would pursue it with tastelondon directly. Might be worth a try?

      I think the key element is that you cannot sign up for the card without ticking a box which indicates you have read all the small print, in which is hidden the auto-renew clause.

      I believe it is widely accepted that the general public do not read all of the small print – serveral companies were sued for mis-selling not so long ago – this being one of the reasons why financial services companies have to read out their t&c to you and confirm you’ve understood it.

      One of the earlier commenters on this post set up a website specifically about this auto-renewal scam, might be worth taking a look?

      However they dress it up, it is a scam and at some point I’m sure they’ll be made to stop it. Might also be worth an email to trading standards (or equivalent)?

      Good luck!

      • Reply Phil Gardner 22nd February 2012 at 5:39 pm

        Glad to see that TasteCard people continue to support this scam. I take great pleasure in explaining the real motives behind Taste to whomever wants to listen. This is BBC Watchdog-friendly in fact, so I might just drop Ann Robinson a line….!

        • Reply CoffeeCurls 22nd February 2012 at 6:09 pm

          Do it! Plus, in the latest Martin’s money tips email he is urging people to look out for auto renew things – which is interesting as they told me via email that they are endorsed by him!

  • Reply Louise Cox 11th April 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Hi,

    The same Taste London Scam has literally just happened to me. I didn’t get an email to notify me (conveniently) & they caveat this by saying:We will not be liable for any non-receipt of communication from us, including non-receipt of the renewal reminder. It is outrageous! If you want a refund for a product, you should be able to get one – especially if it is something they have put into t&c’s of something signed 2 years ago!
    However on reading your excellent post, I then went straight to my bank, who have now put in a none-authorisation claim.
    Thank you so much for supplying all of this helpful information. Really kind of you :-)

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 11th April 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Louise, glad to hear that your bank have been helpful. I hope that if enough banks end up reclaiming the fees then they will end up forcing this scam to be stopped! Best wishes, Lisa x

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