Wednesday 28 September 2016

Dermott Jewell: Know your rights

Published 28/08/2015 | 02:30

Know your rights with David Jewell
Know your rights with David Jewell

Make-up without markups; goods not up to standard; and evening class refunds. What are your rights? Our expert has the answer...

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Q: Not for the first time I have  found make-up, and some other products, in my local shopping centre that have no price listed. I have to ask how much they are and I found it frustrating and embarrassing as my refusal to  buy can appear as if I cannot afford it. Is this allowed?

A: Not only is it not allowed but there are penalties that can be applied for the failure to clearly display the price of a product or service. The European Communities regulations require that all products and services sold in Ireland have to be clearly and legibly priced. They go further because the price you see must be the final price inclusive of VAT and any other taxes and charges and it must be for the single item or pack of the product.

This is why products sold by weight or measure - as well as the unit price - show the cost 'per kg' or 'per litre'. It's the only way you can compare prices and is acknowledged to be your right and entitlement to allow you to make an informed choice to suit both your preference and your budget.

With specific regard to a product, the placing of the price must be on the product, near it, on the label or on the shelf with the simple requirement being for you to immediately know the price of any item without confusion - and without having to ask!

This is not acceptable and I suggest you mention the need for change to a manager. However, if this continues, I would suggest you take a note of the date, place and product and notify the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) which is responsible for regulating this whole area.

Q: Dermott, I bought a new pair of curtains recently but when I got them home and opened the package I found that the fabric was much thinner than the sample set on display in the shop. Of course, I brought them back but the manager refused to give me a refund. I need your urgent help on this please.

A: Readers of this column will be hearing a lot from me on the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act, 1980, because it is the primary current legal Act that provides for our rights when buying and contracting for goods and services from retailers and service providers.

The Act is great here and will allow you to immediately resolve the issue because it clearly specifies that any item you buy on the basis of a sample must correspond to that sample.

This means that when you go back, again, to the shop to return your curtains you can explain to the manager (or show them this advice) how you have a clear legal right and entitlement to an immediate and full refund or, if you wish, a replacement that matches the quality of the sample on display. I recommend seeking only the refund and taking your business where it is appreciated.

Q: I paid a deposit on a course of evening class commencing in September. To be honest I have seen a course that suits me better on time and content and so want to cancel. Can I get a refund?

A: Your only real hope here is if the other course is available through the same college or venue and they would agree to allow you to transfer across. If a different provider then, as you paid the deposit to reserve a place and the college fulfilled its part of what is a binding contract, there may be difficulties.

You are seeking to break the contract, which means you are not entitled to an automatic refund. With this in mind I suggest you get in touch immediately and outline the facts. With enough advance notice they may be able to fill your place and, as a goodwill gesture, refund all, or most, of your deposit.

Quick Q: Can I get motor insurance cover for a car for the weekend?

Quick A: You can transfer existing insurance to another car or the owner of the car could add you as a named driver to their existing policy. Beyond that there is no short period motor insurance cover available as standard in Ireland.

Q: I paid a deposit on a course of evening classes commencing in September. To be honest I have seen a course that suits me better on time and content and so want to cancel. Can I get a refund?

A: Your only real hope here is if the other course is available through the same college or venue and they would agree to allow you to transfer across. If it's a different provider then, as you paid the deposit to reserve a place and the college fulfilled its part of what is a binding contract, there may be difficulties.

You are seeking to break the contract, which means you are not entitled to an automatic refund. With this in mind I suggest you get in touch immediately and outline the facts. With enough advance notice they may be able to fill your place and, as a goodwill gesture, refund all, or most, of your deposit.

Quick Q: Can I get motor insurance cover for a car for the weekend?

Quick A:  You can transfer existing insurance to another car or the owner of the car could add you as a named driver to their existing policy. Beyond that there is no short period motor insurance cover available as standard in Ireland.

Dermott Jewell is a consumer rights expert and the Policy and Council Adviser at the Consumers' Association of Ireland. If you have a consumer-related query you'd like Dermott to help you with, get in touch at djewell@independent.ie

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