Website of the Year

refund.me

Founder and CEO, Eve Buchner tells us how refund.me turns flight delays into cash worldwide.

refund.me turns flight delays into cash worldwide. The company provides a user-friendly online tool, along with an app for iOS and Android, for consumers to input flight data relating to a delayed or cancelled flight they have suffered. Their technology provides a real-time analysis of whether they are eligible to claim compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004. With just a few clicks they can initiate their claim and leave it to refund.me to process it on their behalf. Founder and CEO, Eve Buchner tells us more.

What was the inspiration for the site? Flight delays and cancellations can cause a lot of misery – whether for business, leisure travellers or families embarking on their much wanted, and needed, holidays. While EU legislation to protect and reimburse consumers has been in place since 2004, to date only ten percent of consumers are even aware that they are entitled by law to receive compensation for the travel disruptions they endure all too often. And for consumers who are aware of their rights, only an estimated two percent attempt to claim as they are intimidated by the perceived hurdles, bureaucracy and time required to lodge and pursue a claim.

We set out to provide an open resource for consumers to learn about their rights and assist them with claiming compensation in an open and transparent manner. We wanted to solve the flight delay problem worldwide in accordance with EU, US and other regulatory body legislation.

When did you launch the site? We launched July 2012.

What are your greatest challenges? We believe that change is long overdue in terms of how consumers are treated during and after frustrating flight delay experiences. Although governed by legislation, many airlines do not honour their responsibilities and continue to treat passengers poorly. You might only be offered a 4.50 euro voucher to buy a drink while stuck at the airport for 4 hours… And even if you are eligible for flight compensation all too often you are required to wait an inordinate period of time to receive your 250 - 600 euros of rightful, and legislated, compensation. Only a handful airlines, such as Lufthansa, Austrian or BA, consistently treat passengers well in the event of flight delays or cancellations. We support passengers in exercising their rights, by providing information, technology and legal expertise to combat the barriers to compensation erected by certain airlines.

What's your background? I studied economics and business. Following my career as a TV host and anchor for a number of business, world news and lifestyle television programmes in Germany, I set up a venture capital firm to provide seed investments and support to start-ups in the fields of e-commerce, e-strategy, software development and IPR in the form of patents. Then I founded refund.me and several other companies.

Who do you admire in business? Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. I admire her entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and active advocacy of gender equality.

Please recommend a really useful website that helps you promote or run your business. Facebook and Google. We are fortunate to have a very active and engaged online community.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given? Trial and Error! It turned into my advice which is: Adapt and love the emotion your vision is providing to you.

What is your motto? You must be willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

Where do you see the business going from here? The sky is the limit. Our technology and international legal team currently represents and supports customers from 145 countries with their claims against more than 350 airlines worldwide. And we intend to continue championing consumer rights and using this channel along with the service we provide to travel agents. Our Sabre app, available to over 280,000 Sabre travel agents worldwide monitors delayed flights and automatically advises the agent if one of their customers is affected.

We now have ambitious plans to expand into FinTech, bringing our technology and service offerings to financial institutions so they can better serve their customers.

Have you entered an award before? While the rapid pace of our growth since launch means we have not focussed on entering awards, we have received certain tech sector accolades for our apps. We are particularly proud to have been commended as a Legal Industry Pioneer in the 2014 Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Report. This is the first time we’ve entered the Good Web Guide Awards and we are hopeful that our customers will vote for us!

Where did you hear about the GWG Awards? Our team is well acquainted with the Good Web Guide and refer to it on an ongoing basis.

November 2015