Christmas Day is meant to be a heart-warming event which sees the reuniting of and the sharing of gifts between family members and loved ones. It is the fact that we are all increasingly surrounded with media images of perfect festive spreads, roaring open fires and happy, blissful family interaction as the December 25th gets closer which means that people will readily make claims for monetary compensation should something go awry and spoil the big day.
Here are some typical reasons a person might seek remuneration during Advent…
Problems with Christmas Decorations
Christmas decorations might be pretty but they can cause all sorts of problems during the closing month of each year. People might sustain simple injuries involving the pine needles of a tree or something more severe (for example, broken bones and/or a spinal injury) after falling from stepladders during their application – in December 2008 more than 5,000 people were admitted to UK hospitals for this reason! There have also been a number of instances where people have claimed for compensation after wrongly eating tree ornaments which they assumed were made of chocolate!
Tree lights may however, be the most dangerous decoration of all. These light-strings are capable of causing electrical shocks, burns and can even cause household fires. One example of this appeared in the Dorset Echo this weekend. The story detailed how Christmas tree lights imported from Hong Kong (and purchased via online auction website eBay) set a Weymouth couple’s tree – and then living room – ablaze.
Some employees may even attempt to make a work accident claim should they injure themselves (for reasons they deem to be the fault of the employer) whilst putting up Christmas decorations in the office.
Christmas Hamper Firm Collapse
Some people decide to enter a savings scheme in order to accumulate credit for festive food and gifts over the course of 12 months so that the overall cost is less of a sting. Farepak was one such Christmas hamper firm but the company collapsed back in the year of 2006, causing more than ?42 million pounds to be lost by customers, ruining the costly event for more than 123,000 families in the United Kingdom. A lack of turkey, crackers, presents and/or a buffet on the big day is enough to put a frown on anyone’s face, particularly when these items have actually been paid for!
A significant number of customers had up to ?2,000 of credit with (not) Farepak, intended to be exchanged for vouchers that could be spent in UK high street stores such as Argos and Woolworths.
The Farepak story recently re-hit the headlines as it has since been revealed that the affected customers are expected to share just ?5.5 million between them, meaning that many will only receive miniscule, partial refunds for their losses and resulting bland ’06 Christmas celebrations. The case is to be discussed further in the House of Commons this Wednesday (14th December).
Not receiving an item you have ordered is inconvenient all year round but more so when said item is an Xmas gift for a family member or loved one – no one wants to see the disappointment on little Johnny’s face when Aunty Marie tells him that Santa didn’t deliver his toy fire engine on time! Equally, those who receive items in an unfit, damaged state are also likely to seek compensation.
It is worth noting that in the majority of instances, customers will only be compensated for the cost of the lost/unfit item itself (and occasionally; the cost of postage and packaging also) and not the great inconvenience caused.
In January this year, the Paisley Daily Express revealed that the Royal Mail were forced to compensate residents of the Scottish town a total more than ?48, 529 for items that were undelivered or damaged during Christmas 2010 after 4,500 complaints were made. The harsh, icy weather conditions of last Christmas no doubt interfered with the smooth delivery of goods.
It is a sad fact that people can be made redundant when a company needs to reduce their workforce in the wake of the number of openings – or a particular role – disappearing. For many companies, Christmas coincides with the end of the financial year and this means that some will be made redundant during this time and told that their services will no longer be needed after the festive break.
Employers have a legal obligation to pay a minimal compensation payment to those which they make redundant. Since money is held in such importance in the weeks leading up the Christmas period, people are often extra vigilant when it comes to working out these entitlements and are likely to seek further compensation if they feel they have been underpaid for the service they have provided. Many others may try to claim for unfair dismissal (though are likely be unsuccessful should all of the protocol for redundancy outlined by the government be adhered to).
A Christmas redundancy story that hit the news earlier this month in the Metro newspaper detailed how three full-time Christmas elves at an amusement park in Finland were made redundant and subsequently replaced by temporary Christmas staff. Owners of the financially struggling park – which claims to be home to the world’s only “official” Santa Claus – were ordered to give each of the ex-employees ?4,024 (€5,600) in damages as the court deemed that there was no grounds for these lay-offs.
The author of this guest post – Stephanie Showell – is a lawyer who regularly uses a compensation calculator to estimate how much each of her claimants could receive.