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Wedded to the venue – Consumer organisation warns couples are still being left out of pocket by venues keeping their cash

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Consumer organisation, Which? is calling for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to be given greater powers to deal with businesses that break consumer law – after hearing from several couples still struggling to get refunds for weddings cancelled due to the pandemic.

A year after the consumer champion first raised the alarm that venues were leaving couples out of pocket, Which? has found that some hotels, barns and country houses are still not treating couples fairly.

According to the CMA, there were 2,400 cancellation and refund complaints about weddings in the year to March 2021 – with an average of £6,500 at stake.

The CMA has been clear that couples should in principle be refunded for weddings that are prevented by lockdown laws from going ahead on the agreed date. It issued guidance for businesses on contract cancellations and refunds in April 2020 and released updated advice specifically for the wedding industry in September 2020. These statements set out the CMA’s view of what the law requires.

However, this guidance alone is not legally binding and as things stand, only a court can decide how the law applies in each case. Some couples have struggled to get their venues to take notice of it. With coronavirus restrictions and laws changing so rapidly, it can also be confusing for couples to navigate if and when they are entitled to a refund.

man in black suit jacket holding woman in white wedding dress
Couples who have cancelled wedding plans die to the pandemic are struggling to get refunds according to consumer organisation Which? (Image: cottonbro / Pexels.com)

Which? has spoken to six couples struggling to get a refund from their venues. One couple has since come to an agreement, but five are still waiting on refunds from their venue for weddings cancelled due to Covid and stand to lose more than £26,000 combined.

One couple Which? spoke to was due to get married in May 2020. They planned to invite 100 day guests and 140 guests in the evening.

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In March 2020, when lockdown restrictions were on the cards, the venue postponed the wedding to March 2021 and gave the couple a new contract for the rescheduled date.

When it got to September 2020, the government announced that a 15-person limit on weddings would likely be in place until March 2021. The couple’s wedding fell a few days outside of the six month restrictions but they saw the CMA’s guidance and believed they would be entitled to a refund as their wedding looked unlikely to go ahead as planned.

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Management asked them to postpone rather than cancel. The venue has since argued that as it was not confirmed that the September guest limit would still be in force by their wedding date in March, the wedding was cancelled by the couple and therefore, they were not entitled to a refund.

Eventually the venue offered them a settlement of £4,011 which they then increased to £5,000 in December. But this meant more than £5,000 of their money would be unrecovered.

Without trying to test the law – including the fairness of the terms of their wedding venue contract –  through the courts, the couple cannot establish their final rights to some or all of their money back.

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The couple has since married at another venue in November 2020 and put in a claim with their wedding insurer for the rest of the money.

dining hall interior
Wedding venues are asking couples to postpone rather than offering refunds (Image: Jeremy Wong / Pexels.com)

Another couple Which? spoke to booked their wedding for 11 July 2020 with 120 guests. The venue cancelled in May and said they would offer another suitable date.

The venue did not offer a like-for-like Saturday wedding date and after looking at the CMA guidance, the couple decided to ask for a full refund. This was refused by the venue and all of their suppliers, aside from the caterers.

At this point, the couple decided to stop trying as they felt they were fighting a losing battle and were left to foot the bill for a £700 non-refundable booking fee.

The venue claims it has already undertaken work to justify keeping the money. But when the couple asked for an itemised breakdown of these costs the venue did not supply one.

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This is an industry-wide issue which continues to affect couples whose weddings have been impacted by the pandemic, so Which? believes the CMA must be given the right tools to swiftly and efficiently prosecute companies who have clearly broken consumer law.

The consumer champion is calling for the CMA to have stronger enforcement powers. This would include stronger powers to conduct investigations and impose appropriate fines on companies that breach the law, whether in the weddings industry or in other sectors.

Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Expert, said: “It is disappointing that some wedding venues are still ignoring guidance from the regulator and charging couples for circumstances completely beyond their control. This is especially frustrating for couples when they rearranged their wedding date early on in the pandemic at the request of the venue.

“The current system allows rogue businesses to slip through the net and does not punish those harming consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority must be given stronger powers to hold businesses accountable and fine those that break the law.”

(Lead image: Emma Bauso / Pexels.com)

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Education

“Stuck in a catch-22”: parents drive their children to school because they are concerned about traffic

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New polling data released for Living Streets’ Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2022) finds that traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children walking to school, with 17 per cent of parents in Wales naming it as a reason their child doesn’t walk.

With over 460,000 pupils in Wales, it would mean tens of thousands of them are being denied the physical and social health benefits of being more active.

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Schools being too far away from home (18%) and cars parked on pavements (17%) were also barriers for Welsh parents.

The latest data suggests just 50 per cent of primary school aged children in Wales walk to school.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.

“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.

“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”

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Living Streets works with schools, local authorities and parent groups to help improve the walk to school.

Stephen Edwards continues: “We want to enable as well as encourage more families to walk to school. We’re here to help parents who are worried about safety around their child’s school. Car-free zones, 20mph limits and better crossings can all help make the walk to school safer and we’re here to help people campaign for them in their area.”

For more information on Living Streets’ walk to school campaign, visit livingstreets.org.uk/WalkToSchool

(Lead image: Shutterstock)

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Food & Drink

Chicken products recalled at a dozen national retailers due to salmonella fears

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The Food Safety Authority (FSA) has issued a recall notice for cooked chicken sandwiches, wraps and other products sold at TWELVE major retailers due to salmonella fears.

The products were supplied by food producer Cranswick Country Foods who manufacture own-brand products for a number of supermarkets and food outlets.

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In a statement the FSA said: “Cranswick Country Foods are recalling several products containing chicken because salmonella has been found in some of the chicken used to manufacture these products.

“As a precaution additional products are also being recalled whilst investigations continue.”

Products sold by Aldi, Waitrose, Amazon, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Costa, Cafe Nero, M&S, Starbucks, Shell, One Stop and Tesco are all affected by the warning.

Aldi Chicken & Stuffing Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Aldi Chicken & Sweetcorn Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Aldi Chicken and Bacon Caesar Wraps Mixed
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Waitrose Chicken & Bacon Caesar Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Deep Filled Roast Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Deep Filled Roast Chicken & Stuffing Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Entertaining Meat Roulade Wrap Selection
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Essential Chicken Mayo Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Roast Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Roast Chicken & Stuffing Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Roast Chicken & Sweetcorn Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Waitrose Roast Chicken Salad with Salad Cream Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Aldi Chicken and Bacon Caesar Wrap Triple Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Use by
Amazon Arabiatta Chicken Pasta Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon BBQ Chicken Hot wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Chicken and Bacon Caesar Baguette
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Chicken and Spinach Protein Pot
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Chicken Caesar Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Chicken Tikka Bites
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Chicken Triple Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Harissa Chicken and Grain Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Aldi Chicken Fajita Triple Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Amazon Katsu Chicken and Coconut Slaw
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Lemongrass Chicken Grain Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Mexican Chicken Mini Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Sweet Chilli Chicken Noodle Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Thai Chicken Hot Box
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
Amazon Tikka Chicken & Masala Potato
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Sage & Onion Chicken Breast Slice 180g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Café Chicken & Bacon Topped Toastie
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Cajun Chicken Grills 180g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chargrilled Chicken Slices 160g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
Aldi Chicken Beechwood Smoked Bacon and Stuffing Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chargrilled Chicken Slices 300g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chargrilled Salt & Chilli Thigh Fillets 150g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken & Sweetcorn Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken and Bacon Sub Roll
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken Fajita Triple Wrap
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken Salad Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken Triple Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken with Pork, Sage & Onion Stuffing Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Chicken, Bacon & Caesar Wrap
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Classic Sandwich Platter
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 12 May 2022
Aldi Eat & Go Chicken and Bacon Club with Mayo
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Classic Triple Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Coronation Chicken Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Firecracker Chicken Slices 160g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Flamegrilled Chicken Grills 180g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Flamegrilled Chicken Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Garlic & Herb Chicken Breast Slices 180g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Gluten Free Chicken Caesar Wrap
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Gluten Free Sandwich Platter
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 12 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thigh Fillets 150g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Jerk Chicken Wrap
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
Aldi Eat & Go Classic Selection Chicken Salad, Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Prawn Mayonnaise Sandwiches
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Kansas City BBQ Wings 486g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Meat Sandwich Platter
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 12 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Mexican Chicken Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Piri Piri Chicken Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 20 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Spring on the Lemon Chicken Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Thai Red Chicken Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s Wrap Platter
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 12 May 2022
By Sainsburys Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
By Sainsbury’s TTD Greek Chicken & Tzatziki Premium Wrap
Use byAll use by dates from 3 May up to and including 14 May 2022
Caffé Nero Chargrilled Chicken Salad Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
Aldi Flavoured Mini Chicken Fillets; Mango Curry & Shwarma
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Co-op Chicken & Bacon Caesar Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Co-op Chicken & Sweetcorn Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Co-op Chicken and Stuffing Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Co-op Chicken Mayo Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Co-op Coronation Chicken Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 14 May 2022
Co-op Oriental Chicken Curry with Egg Fried Rice 400g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 20 May 2022
Co-op Oriental Chow Mein 375g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 20 May 2022
Co-op Oriental Sweet and Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice 400g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 20 May 2022
Costa British Chicken Fajita Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Costa British Roast Chicken & Bacon Classic Toastie
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Aldi Roast Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Costa Chicken & Chorizo Stonebaked Panini
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
‘Jamie Oliver deli by Shell’ Spicy Chipotle BBQ Chicken Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
M&S 14 Piece Classic Sandwich Platter
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
M&S Chicken & Bacon Caesar Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
M&S Classic Mini Roll Selection
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 12 May 2022
M&S Deli Filler Coronation Chicken
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 17 May 2022
M&S Made Without Wheat Gluten Free Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
M&S Roast Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
M&S Roast Chicken & Salad Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
M&S The Café Classic Selection
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
Aldi Roast Chicken Salad Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
M&S The Café Gluten Free Chicken Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
M&S Honey and Mustard Chicken Pasta Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
M&S Chicken and Bacon Layered Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
M&S Chicken Caesar Salad
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
One Stop BBQ Chicken Chunks 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
One Stop Sliced Roast Chicken Breast 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Starbucks Coronation Chicken Sandwich
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 13 May 2022
Tesco BBQ Chicken Breast Pieces 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Tesco Chicken Breast Slices 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 20 May 2022
Tesco Chicken Breast Slices 180g (Express)
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Aldi Sweet Chilli Chicken Triple Wrap
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 15 May 2022
Tesco Chicken Breast Slices 360g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 20 May 2022
Tesco Coronation Chicken Pieces 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 18 May 2022
Tesco Fajita Chicken Breast Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 18 May 2022
Tesco Flame Grilled Chicken Breast Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 20 May 2022
Tesco Flame Grilled Chicken Thins 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 18 May 2022
Tesco Garlic & Herb Chicken Breast Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Tesco Piri Piri Chicken Breast Mini Fillets 170g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 18 May 2022
Tesco Piri Piri Chicken Breast Pieces 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Tesco Sliced Chicken Breast with Sage & Onion 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022
Tesco Tandoori Chicken Pieces 180g
Use byAll use by dates up to and including 19 May 2022

A full list of products affected is available on the FSA website.

The FSA added: “Our advice to consumers If you have bought the above products, do not eat them. Instead, return them to the store from where they were bought for a full refund.”

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(Lead image: Lara604 / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Food & Drink

Supermarket Aldi to stock Ukrainian beer with profits going to humanitarian relief

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Supermarket Aldi has announced it will sell Chernigivske, Ukraine’s most popular beer brand, in stores nationwide.

Priced at £9.99 for a pack of ten 440ml cans, all profits from sales will go towards humanitarian relief in Ukraine.

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Brand-owner AB InBev is guaranteeing at least $5m from the initiative, with funds distributed across designated NGOs.

Chernigivske, also known locally as “Che”, is considered a national treasure in Ukraine.

Originally brewed as a gift to celebrate the 1,300-year anniversary of the city from which it got its name, Chernigiv, it remains the number one beer brand in Ukraine.

Like many Ukrainian businesses, the Chernigiv brewery closed its doors at the end of February. However, the brand has since started producing its lager in three breweries across Europe, with plans to open additional locations across the globe. Aldi proudly stands in partnership with Chernigivske, stocking the beer across stores nationwide, making every can count.

“Che” is a crisp and refreshing lager, originally brewed with character that perfectly balances strength and spirit; fruity aromas highlighted with light hoppy notes. It is a traditional Ukrainian lager loved and shared by generations of Ukrainians.

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Chernigivske lager is available in Aldi stores from 1st May, £9.99 for 10 x440ml and available as a pack of 4 from mid-May, while stocks last.

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