The Smell of Bullshit, part 28: Lush and the 10% off vouchers again

As you can see from this post, a little while ago Lush announced that they will no longer accept their 10% off vouchers after the end of October this year, even though the vouchers do not have an expiry date on them. Numerous customers have complained about this on the Lush forum, pointing out that the vouchers were offered as an inducement to buy Lush gift boxes and, as already stated, the vouchers don’t have expiry dates on them. Some of the customers have taken advice from CAB who have confirmed that as the vouchers have no expiry date and no conditions printed on them (other than that they are not accepted during December), it would be unlawful for Lush to refuse to accept them.

Let’s have a look at what The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1992 says (and thanks to selfheal on the Lush forum for doing the work on finding this!) In the indicative and non-exhaustive list of terms which may be regarded as unfair, Schedule 2 says

(g)enabling the seller or supplier to terminate a contract of indeterminate duration without reasonable notice except where there are serious grounds for doing so;

Paragraph (g) is without hindrance to terms by which a supplier of financial services reserves the right to terminate unilaterally a contract of indeterminate duration without notice where there is a valid reason, provided that the supplier is required to inform the other contracting party or parties thereof immediately.

(j)enabling the seller or supplier to alter the terms of the contract unilaterally without a valid reason which is specified in the contract;

(k)enabling the seller or supplier to alter unilaterally without a valid reason any characteristics of the product or service to be provided;

 

and this is what applies in these circumstances. Lush made no statement reserving their rights to change the terms and conditions relating to the vouchers, either in the shops, on the website, in the Lush Times or on the vouchers themselves. And even if they had made such a statement, they do not have reasonable grounds to stop accepting the vouchers – “we don’t want to accept them any more” isn’t reasonable grounds, and they haven’t given reasonable notice.

Unlike many companies, Lush charge more for a gift box of products than it would cost to buy the products separately and they excused this by saying “yes, but you get a 10% voucher in every gift box.” They tried to say that this made the gift boxes worth buying because the money customers save when they redeem the vouchers more than makes up for the cost of the gift box. If the price of the gift box is more than the cost of the individual products, then customers are paying for the packaging and the voucher, and the voucher becomes part of the contract of the sale.

Lush are unlawfully unilaterally changing the terms of the contract (and the new terms are unlawful and unfair), and Lush have not notiified – would not be able to notify – every customer with whom they have such a contract.

Lush are refusing to accept this. Their latest statement appeared on the forum today, from dplusw, and it is

Hi folks,
We’ve been discussing this matter internally at length and we’re really keen to clarify the situation. We do not believe that we are above the law – we need to be legally compliant at all times and we have made a just commercial decision to revoke the 10% discount vouchers as of 1st Nov 2013. If there are any issues after that date, please give us a call directly to discuss further, as we’re here to help. 01202 641006

Nowhere in that statement does it say “we have taken legal advice.” The statement says “we talked about it ourselves.” (I would remind you hear that Mark Constantine has said openly on the forum several times that he doesn’t see why Lush should have to abide by employment law – perhaps he feels the same about consumer law). The statement says it’s a commercial decision – it doesn’t say it’s a lawful decision. Lush have ignored tweets about it and they have ignored the posts from people who have taken legal advice about it.

I don’t have any vouchers because I stopped buying Lush gift vouchers years ago because the quality was at best inconsistent and more often than not appalling. But if you do, and you want to use them after 31/10, do not be put off by what Lush are telling you. Get advice from CAB and/or Trading Standards and if Lush refuse to accept the voucher, consider a small claims court action for the cost of the gift you purchased, the 10% discount you are owed, and your court costs. If every single person around the country with a voucher did a small claims court action, Lush would have to respond to every one, would lose every one, and would have to stop behaving unlawfully with regards to the vouchers. Plus, they’d have to respond to each and every court where an action was lodged – whether that was in Truro or Carlisle or Orkney. Small claims court actions are relatively easy to start – I’ve done one myself in the past – and I think you can do most of the paperwork online now. Think about it. Lush are happy to rip their customers off by unlawfully refusing to accept the vouchers – why should they get away with it? Go to court, stand up for your legal rights.

Rich Hall’s Hoedown

As already stated, I like Rich Hall and I particularly enjoy his musical alter-ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, whose blackly comic songs are blackly hilarious. The Hoedown though, is more about the music – the songs just happen to be comedic. Hall has picked a good band – guitarist Rob Childs, bassist James Morgan and drummer Mark Hewitt are pretty good in their own right and often reduced to giggles by the comedy. A number of the songs had been done at the solo show but the addition of a band rather than just Hall and the keyboard gave them freshness and depth.

Sisters Ellie and Immie Mason appeared as guest act, and they are fab. Like Agnetha and Annifrid, their voices are good on their own, but altogether special in harmony and shown off well in It’s Time to Get a Gun. Going by last night, Ellie looks much more comfortable on stage than Immie, but they both performed very well. Some quick googling says they’re part of a group called threeforagirl  – watch out for them.

The one fly in the otherwise enjoyable ointment was the appearance of Canadian comedian Tony Law, who turned up, attempted to sing The Who’s You Better You Bet although he only knew half of two verses, pretended there were fights breaking out and then disappeared whence he came. It added nothing to the show other than the chance to hear Ellie & Immie’s harmonies again.

If you’ve seen the solo show and you’d like to see more of the music with less of the stand-up, get yourself along to the Hoedown. Just be aware that you’ll have heard a couple of the songs before. But it’s worth it just to hear the Mason sisters sing.

Best bit? The best bit was this.

Rich Hall

I like Rich Hall. He’s an intelligent comedian who uses his anger at the world’s absolute stupidities to make hilarious comedy. And, a friend of mine told me that friends of hers had lent/rented him their flat during the Fringe one year and after he had vacated it and they came back, he had left a massive dildo in the middle of the bed.

Tonight’s venue was the Spiegeltent in George Square. It’s quite a big venue, and we were sitting as far back as it was possible to get. Sightlines were poor and the sound wasn’t fantastic, plus there was a lot of noise from outside. It was probably better for the people nearer the front, so get there early.

As for the show – well, not great. The problem was that Rich Hall wasn’t well. He was full of cold and obviously suffering, and as much as he tried to keep going, it affected his performance. He was losing track of where he was and struggling to stay focused, coughing and spluttering and generally being ill. It’s a real shame because we could see it had the makings of being another excellent show, and the songs in particular were very funny, but he just wasn’t well enough to perform well. Not his fault, and I’d definitely go back to see him again (in fact, we have tickets for his hoedown next week), but tonight just wasn’t what it otherwise would have been. I’m not rating it out of ten because I don’t think I can give a fair rating in the circumstances.

Adam Hills: Happyism

Adam Hills isn’t edgy. You don’t have to worry about sitting in the front row because if he talks to you, he won’t humiliate you. He’s safe, he’s not scary, he’s not controversial. But he is very very funny and when you come out of his show, you’ve had a good laugh and you feel better, and sometimes, that’s all you want.

10/10

 

Mark Thomas: 100 Minor Acts of Dissent

I have a soft spot for Mark Thomas because years ago I was heavily involved in a campaign to stop the then government building a replacement for the hospital I worked in via the PFI route rather than through public funding. Mark Thomas assisted us in that campaign, as did the late and much missed Paul Foot, and Jeremy Hardy. The campaign had no effect and the PFI deal has proved disastrous, but that’s by the by.

Tonight’s show, 100 Minor Acts of Dissent, is about Mark Thomas’s pledge to complete 100 minor acts of dissent between 14/05/13 and 14/05/14. These include such things as photographing police officers, stickering books in large booksellers with stickers that say “also available in charity shops” and taking a ceilidh band into the Apple store to protest the fact Apple don’t pay taxes in the UK, among others. Stickers and badges are available for sale after the shop, so take small change.

I would also like to draw your attention to this site http://www.wewilldrivethemtotheairport.co.uk/ .

If you like intelligent comedy, you like a bit of mischief and you’re not appalled by people not behaving themselves, then you’ll probably really enjoy this show. I would give it 10/10 but there are some parts of the show where Mr Thomas speaks really quietly into the microphone and we couldn’t hear him, so 9/10. Now, I’m off to make use of my bastardtrade stickers..

Zoe Lyons

I hadn’t seen or heard of Zoe Lyons before my friend suggested going to see her. I think she does the panel type shows I don’t watch because they’re too blokey. (Yes, I see the irony there). So I had no idea what to expect..

She’s funny. No hilarious can’t breathe tears running down the face belly-laughs, but consistent laughter all the way through, at her mixture of observation, anecdote and speculation. I enjoyed it, I’d go see her again. Not much more to say. 6.5/10

Eurobeat (Wellington College)

I’ve been lucky enough to see Eurobeat twice before. The first time, a friend of mine was over from Ireland for a few days, and we were sitting drinking in the Pleasance courtyard when we were accosted by a leafleter. Fairly well oiled, and both Eurovision fans, it didn’t take much to persuade us to give this Eurovision spoof a go. And we loved it. I loved it so much I went back to see it again at the Festival theatre, with more or less the same professional cast. Today’s show was an amateur production, and what it lacked in polish it made up for in enthusiasm and effort.

Eurobeat is a spoof/pastiche/parody of Eurovision. I am a devoted Eurovision fan – I love the naffess, the kitsch, the terribly political voting, the whole thing. But my-sun-and-stars  came with me to this today, and he is absolutely not a Eurovision fan, and he really liked it too. The show proceeds as if it was the actual Eurovision song contest, in Sarajevo, hosted by the glamorous Boyka and slightly creepy Sergei. A number of countries take part – Poland, Italy, Germany, Royaume-Uni, Russia, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland, Greece – performing their songs, and then there’s an interval while the audience get to vote by text for their favourite, and the hosts perform the traditional Eurovision voting entertainment (in this case, a song about a turnip). The professional version has Iceland as well, but Fringe shows are limited for time and so Iceland were missing today.

Writers Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson are geniuses. SRSLY. The Eurobeat songs are such brilliant pastiches that they could almost be genuine entries. Russian boyband, Irish crooner singing “lalalalalala,” terrible UK entry, surreal German Kraftwerk-pop, Hungarian folk song about killing a chicken and eating its entrails, Swedish ABBA rip-off with a piano line ripped straight from Waterloo – it’s all perfect.

Eurobeat has quite a small cast, maybe 20 or so, so they take turns being singers and dancers for each of the countries. They have to work hard, learning several songs and interpretive dance routines each. The couple doing the UK song probably have one of the easiest jobs as going slightly off-key is just part of the act. This cast manage the songs well, although the dancing could be better, and the sound mix sometimes drowns the singing out with the music. After the songs comes the voting. Tonight Ireland won, but on both the previous times I saw it, Poland won.

If you love Eurovision for its own sake, or you enjoy laughing at it for its awfulness, then Eurobeat is worth a look. This wasn’t the best production of Eurobeat I’ve ever seen, but it was still utterly enjoyable and a whole lot of fun. 6.5/10

The Smell of Bullshit, part 27: Lush and the 10% off vouchers

Lush used to put 10% off vouchers into the gift boxes. They stopped doing that a while ago, but lots of people still have them because when they bought a gift box, they would save the voucher to use when they were doing a big shop – 10% off a £150 spend is worth more than 10% off a £20 spend, after all. The vouchers have no expiry date on them and the only condition is that Lush won’t accept them in December because they’re too busy (because it takes so long to push the “discount – 10%” button).

There has been some discussion and consternation on the Lush International Forum for a few days because of a rumour that Lush were going to stop accepting the vouchers. Remember there is no expiry date on the vouchers. After a few days, Alecommy who is a Lush employee posted on the forum, saying

Hello, sorry it took a few days to answer the question about the 10% discount voucher.
The information that was reported here came from a pre warning for the shops, which have now been advised on the full policy. We stopped distributing the discount vouchers about 2 years ago, but our customers will be able to use those vouchers in our uk network until the end of October 2013. You have a chance to use it to buy the lovely new Christmas products!  Each other Lush country have different legislations/policies so please refer to the local T&c.

 

So, Lush are saying that the vouchers will not be accepted after the end of October this year. The vouchers have no expiry date on them, but Lush have decided that 3 months from now, they will be invalid.

Now, I don’t know the law relating to vouchers, and I am way too tired to google. Do it yourselves. But, as far as I understand it, the terms and conditions relating to a voucher are those that are written on it (in this case, no expiry date, not accepted in December) and any that are brought to your attention at the time of purchase. I 100% guarantee that nobody was told at the time of purchase that the vouchers would not be valid after 31/10/13. And, I’m pretty sure I remember that when Lush stopped issuing the vouchers, they said that all existing vouchers would be valid until they had all been used.

This Guardian article talks about the law relating to vouchers with expiry dates on them. Having read it, the only logical inference is that vouchers without expiry dates don’t expire and retailers must accept them.

If you have a voucher and Lush say they won’t accept it, don’t accept Lush’s bullshit. Get help from Trading Standards if need be. People bought Lush gifts knowing they’d be getting a 10% off voucher – it’s not acceptable for Lush to say they won’t accept the vouchers any more, and it might just be unlawful.