12 August 2020

Refund chasing and switching deals were most time-consuming "money admin" chores in lockdown

4 min read

Royal London logo
Becky O'Connor

Personal Finance Specialist


As millions suffered lower incomes and job losses, a quarter of Brits (26%) spent more time on money admin during lockdown than usual, with refund-chasing (15%) and research for better deals (15%) topping the list 0f tasks, according to research by Opinium on behalf of Royal London, the mutual insurer.

Some had to devote more time to sorting their personal finances than others: the proportion of people doing more money admin than normal rose to 41% among self-employed people and 43% of those who had been made redundant due to COVID-19.

Contacting an airline or travel company was the most time-consuming money admin chore, with the average time taken to reach a resolution at 66 minutes, followed by researching a better rate or deal, which took an average 51 minutes. 16 per cent of people said that contacting an airline or travel company had taken them more than three hours.

For the self-employed, for whom “time is money”, there is an opportunity cost to spending hours on the phone instead of working: the average cost in lost earnings dealing with an airline is £17.90 per hour on the phone*.

Becky O’Connor, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: “The pandemic has brought all sorts of disruption to people’s daily lives, but one annoying and time-consuming side effect is hours spent wrangling over refunds and trawling for cheaper deals.

“With incomes squeezed or lost, taking care of money admin is an important part of staying afloat. Although it takes time, which for some can mean lost earnings, it’s time well spent if what you are chasing is going to generate an even bigger cost saving or refund.”


Money admin task Average time (mins)
Contacted an airline/travel company to get a refund for a holiday 65.8
Researched a financial product which would allow me to get a better rate/deal 51.1
Contacted a financial provider regarding a scam 48.6
Switched a utility provider to get a better rate 42.8
Contacted HMRC with a tax enquiry 41.3
Contacted a financial provider to arrange a payment/premium break 40.4
Contacted a retailer to get a refund for a product which you wanted returned/was faulty 39.7
Contacted a Financial provider to query a transaction 38
Contacted a financial provider to make a general enquiry regarding your policy/account


Contacted a financial provider to reinstate a product you already owned


Contacted a financial provider to open a new account


About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £139 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and 4,348 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2020.

For further information please contact:

Lucy Field, Press Officer

Notes to Editors

•       Questions were placed onto the Opinium consumer omnibus. 

•       2,000 responses were received.

•       Fieldwork ran from 30th June to 3rd July 2020.

•       *average hourly rate for self-employed survey participants

•       ABC1 spend more time on admin than c2DE (57min v 49 mins)

•       Of those who personal or work situation has been affected by COVID-19, those who are working at home full time/ more frequently spend the most time reviewing their finances (60.9 mins), whereas those who have been made redundant spend the least time (39.7 mins)