David versus Goliath

Post Office Scandal has a Vital Lesson for Your Business

In the UK no one can have failed to be moved by the recent TV programme Mr Bates vs The Post Office.  It’s easy to forget that there was a time before social media when if you were told you were ‘the only one’ it was impossible to know if you were.


Small businesses often operate alone, without the benefit of a business community or expert support. This leaves them vulnerable to unscrupulous business practices, just like the post masters were.


We all live in a community and benefit from the support that it provides. There is no reason why our businesses should be treated any differently. For businesses like hotels and B&Bs etc. there are national associations like “The Bed & Breakfast Association” or other regional associations.  It is worth being part of these!


There are now also less formal online communities, and it’s worth being part of these too.  This was no more clearly demonstrated than during the beginning of the COVID pandemic when insurance companies in the UK started to refuse legitimate claims from small hotels and bed & breakfasts for interruption to business. Whilst each individual business was struggling to do battle with their own insurance company and trying to navigate the baffling Terms & Conditions of their policies…a small facebook group run by freetobook was starting to fight back.


The freetobook Facebook group started many years previously and sought to help accommodation businesses using the booking system share their experiences and industry knowledge, but by Spring 2020 there was only one subject being discussed; “how can I fight my insurance company’s refusal to pay out on my insurance policy?”.


Not being an insurance company, freetobook was unable to help but an amazing thing started to happen:  hotel and B&B owners started to share their experiences with their own insurance providers, the reasons for refusal, the evidence they were having to supply and the inconsistency of approach around the UK.  Despite the insurers attempts to gaslight acommodation owners, it was clear that many were being misled.  Business owners with previous experience of the industry waded in with their inside knowledge and before you knew it the hotels and B&Bs had the tools and the knowledge to fight back.  Refusals were reversed, payouts were made and it is no exaggeration to say, some businesses were saved. That’s the positive power of community.


Hotels, B&Bs and rentals from around the world can meet in this “digital village hall” that freetobook created and support each other, not just in navigating the minefield of insurance policies, but also the changing rules and regulations.  Imagine if ‘Alan Bates and Others’ had access to such a group back in the 90’s.  Good communities support each other and they’re worth investing in.


The freetobook Facebook group is open to all freetobook users and carries on to this day, helping business owners like you to connect, share your issues and offer assistance to others.