Tuesday 27 September 2016

Can I get my money back for the poor hair cut I got on my latest trip to hairdresser?

Fergal O'Leary

Published 13/03/2016 | 02:30

Under the Sale of Goods and Services legislation, when you pay for a service, you can expect the service is carried out with proper care and attention
Under the Sale of Goods and Services legislation, when you pay for a service, you can expect the service is carried out with proper care and attention

I recently spent a lot of money on getting my hair cut. I was very unhappy with the result and felt the hairdresser was not suitably qualified. I have not yet approached the hairdressers as I want to know what my rights are first? Linda, Tallaght, Dublin 24

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Under the Sale of Goods and Services legislation, when you pay for a service, you can expect the service is carried out with proper care and attention, the business providing it has the appropriate skills to do the job, any materials they use in the work are sound and fit for their purpose, and also any goods they supply to you as part of the service should be of acceptable quality.

If this is not the case whatever the service you purchased, you are entitled to ask the business to either correct the problem, if they can, or provide a full or partial refund of the amount paid. At this point, we would suggest you contact the hairdresser outlining the above and request a resolution.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the hairdresser, send a formal complaint to it in writing, again outlining the above and how you would like to see the matter resolved. Further details on how to make an effective complaint, including template letters and information on the Small Claims Process can be found on consumerhelp.ie

I am coming to the end of a fixed-rate term on my mortgage. I have noticed a lot of advertising from lenders about switching.

However, there is so much to think about I am not sure where to start. I would like to make savings on my mortgage but would also like some certainty about how much I will be paying every month. Is this possible?

Aishling, Drumcondra, Dublin 3

Switching your mortgage to a lower rate can potentially save you thousands. However, there are a few things to think about before you switch - including if you are eligible to switch.

The lender will look at your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio - which is how much you owe on your mortgage in relation to how much your house is worth, the outstanding balance on your mortgage, and whether or not you meet certain criteria such as the bank's income requirements.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has a mortgage switching tool on its consumer website consumerhelp.ie that allows you to compare mortgage rates from different providers in one place. The mortgage comparison tool is impartial so you can look at rates from all of the different providers to see which one offers you the best deal and how much you could potentially save. If you do find a better deal with another provider, contact your lender to see what it can offer first before you consider switching.

Don't be solely enticed by lenders offering you 'freebies' like legal fees or discounted insurance - without looking at the total cost of the mortgage as a whole. Introductory packages can save you money in the short term but remember to consider the long-term costs you will pay when the offer runs out. If you can switch your mortgage, there will be some costs involved including legal fees.

You can generally choose between a fixed- or a variable rate mortgage. With a fixed rate mortgage, your interest rate and monthly repayments are fixed for a set time. Fixed rates are commonly available over one, two or three years, although longer periods may be available. Although a fixed rate means repayments cannot increase for a set period of time, your repayments will not decrease during the fixed rate period. As a result, you could miss out on lower interest rates and lower repayments. Fixed rates may cost more over the long run, but they offer peace of mind as you know your repayments will not rise. You will also face penalties if you break the terms during the fixed rate period.

Variable rates offer most flexibility. They allow you to pay extra off your mortgage, extend your mortgage term or top up your mortgage - and usually without having to pay any penalties.

Whichever mortgage type or institution you choose, make sure you fully understand all of the key terms and conditions before you sign.

I will be having my first baby in May and am trying to get the essentials bought on a limited budget. Friends recommended I save money by buying items second-hand. So I used a well-known auction site to buy a few items. Unfortunately the items never arrived and I cannot get in touch with the seller. What options do I have?

Edel, Crumlin, Dublin 12

Having a baby is a very exciting time but it also brings new pressures on your money. It is a good idea to try and make savings where you can. However, if you bought something from an individual through a website, consumer rights legislation does not apply because only business to consumer purchases are covered under law. As a result you can't avail of the right to cancel.

Auction sites usually take no responsibility for the quality of the items for sale - or the accuracy of the listings. The goods listed usually just have to be owned by the seller and fit their description, so it is very much a case of 'buyer beware'. If the seller was a business in the EU, then normal rights under the Consumer Rights Directive apply - including the right to a refund if your goods were not delivered.

If you paid for your item using a secure method of payment, such as Paypal, they have their own redress system for buyers. So if an eligible item that you've bought online doesn't arrive, or doesn't match the seller's description, they may reimburse you for the full amount of the item plus postage. However, there are conditions attached to the scheme. If you paid using your credit or debit card then you may have the option of doing a charge back, so contact your bank about this as soon as possible.

When buying from an auction website, always check the terms and conditions before making a bid. Many sites are self-regulated and use a star system to rate users so check the comments on a user's profile before to help you decide if you want to buy from them.

My car insurance renewal came recently and to my horror my insurance has increased in cost by 40pc. I have had no claims in the last five years, no penalty points and I get the car serviced regularly.

My insurance company says the cost is due to the increased number of claims that they are paying out. But that is their problem surely?

Mark, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Insurance companies can decide to increase your premium even if you have had no claims. This is a business decision. But, you are not obliged to accept the quote from your existing insurance company.

You say in your e-mail you have a clean driving history with no claims in the last five years and no penalty points. Therefore you are in a good position to contact a number of different insurance companies and ask them for a quote. There are lots of ways you can do this. You can go online, phone insurance companies directly, or use a broker. It's well worth spending some time doing this as you could save yourself a lot of money.

When you are comparing insurance policies from different companies, it is important not just to focus on price. Make sure that the policy provides you with the cover you need and also check how much of an excess, (the first part of a claim that you will have to pay yourself), applies. It pays to do your homework with insurance so you know exactly what you are covered for, should you need to claim in the future.

Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.

While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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