Can I get redress for delayed baggage?
Q I just got back from a week's holiday abroad, where I was left with no luggage for half the trip, as the airline had mislaid it during a transfer from one flight to another. I had to buy new clothes, cosmetics and medicines while I was away and didn't get my suitcase for four days. Am I entitled to compensation? Aine, Ennis, Co Clare.
The Montreal Convention is an international agreement which gives air passengers rights in the event of baggage delay, damage or loss. Under the convention, each air passenger can seek up to €1,230 for loss, destruction or delay of baggage.
If an airline offers compensation for a delay, it may be for a set amount per day that you were without the bag or it may refund any essential expenditure you incurred - as long as you provide receipts.
Generally, if your luggage does not turn up at the airport when you land, it is important that you report this at the airport baggage reclaim area immediately. Request the contact details of the baggage department and ask if there is an online tracer system available to check the status of your bag. Complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR), keeping a copy for yourself.
This proves you notified the airline of the problem, which can help when making a claim.
You should also ask about the airline's daily allowance policy, which covers a certain amount of the cost of the everyday essentials you may need to buy as a result of your baggage being delayed.
Keep receipts for all necessary expenses resulting from the delay of your bag. Once you get your luggage back, you have 21 days to make a separate written claim for compensation to the airline. Remember to keep a copy of your claim for your records and to enclose copies of the relevant documentation, such as the PIR, booking confirmation and receipts for the clothes, cosmetics and medicines you had to buy while you were without your bag. If you have travel insurance, you may also be able to claim on that too.
Weighing up car finance
Q I saw an ad for finance for a car I want and I can definitely make the monthly repayments. However, I'm generally pretty cautious about taking out loans and I've heard that if for some reason I couldn't make the repayments, I couldn't sell the car to clear the finance. Is this true and should I look at alternatives?
Trim, Co Meath
Generally when car finance is being advertised, it refers to a Personal Contract Plan (PCP). Taking out a PCP or another type of car finance can be convenient as the dealer selling you the car can also arrange your finance. While PCPs usually have low monthly repayments, as with any contract, it is important to read the small print and know what you are signing up to.
A PCP is an agreement between you and the finance company where you will make monthly repayments to the company, typically for three years. A PCP normally involves paying an initial deposit (a minimum of 10pc of the value of the new car) and then relatively small monthly repayments. These monthly repayments can make the loan seem more affordable than other types of finance, such as a personal loan.
However, PCPs usually have a very large final payment called a 'guaranteed minimum future value' (GMFV) or 'balloon payment'. A PCP is also different from a personal loan because you don't own the car until you have made the last repayment. This means you cannot sell the car if you run into difficulty making repayments during the term of the agreement without first agreeing this with the finance company, and even then, you could end up owing money if the car is worth less than the amount of finance outstanding.
When you come to the end of a PCP contract you typically have three options. First, you can pay the final payment - a large once-off payment - and keep the car. This final payment is set at the beginning of the agreement, based on the finance company's estimate of the future value of the car. You could also refinance this amount by taking out a new agreement.
Second, you can hand back the car and make no further payments. You no longer owe anything but you also don't have the use of a car.
Third, you can trade in the car for a new one and enter a new PCP agreement. You may have built up equity from your previous PCP agreement, which you can bring into a new PCP as a deposit but similarly, you may need a new cash deposit, depending on the difference between what you owe on the first car and its value. You should check the contract or ask the dealer for further details on what would happen if you decided to enter into another PCP agreement.
Confusing price tag on dress
Q I recently tried to buy a dress in a well-known chain store. When I got to the till, the shop assistant tried to charge me a higher price than I expected. It turned out the dress had the price displayed in both sterling and euro. I had mistakenly read the sterling price as the actual price. When I tried to argue with the shop assistant about how confusing it was to have both prices displayed, she said there was nothing wrong with doing this. Is she right?
Bayside, Dublin 13
Businesses must display their prices and there are rules on how they must be displayed. You have the right to clear and accurate information on the prices of goods and services so that you can compare prices and make informed choices.
Prices in other currencies can be displayed along with the price in euro. However the non-euro price cannot be in bigger print than the euro price as this could be misleading. There is no obligation on a business to offer items for sale at the same price in different markets.
Switching current accounts
Q From a quick scan of the market, I could save at least €50 a year simply by switching my current account. I have been with the same bank my entire life. Is it easy to switch?
Some banks still offer free banking but this usually comes with conditions, such as having to permanently have a set amount of money in your current account or lodging a certain amount of money into the account each month or quarter. If you no longer qualify for free banking, know what bank charges and fees you are paying by having a look at your bank statements. You should also check the volume of transactions on your account.
If you decide to switch, choose carefully and make your decision based on how you use your account. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has a current account comparison on its website (www.ccpc.ie) where you can compare the fees and features of current accounts.
The Central Bank's code of conduct on switching current accounts is designed to make switching your current account quick and easy. All banks offering current accounts in Ireland must comply with the code. Under this code, your new bank must have your new account up and running within 10 working days of the switching date (the date agreed between you and your new bank or building society for the process to start). You will be given the option to keep your old account, or to close it.
You must let your new bank know before you switch. If you keep your old account open, you may have to pay charges on this account and stamp duty on your cards, even if you no longer use the account or cards.
Sunday Indo Business