Business Choice

Saturday 10 December 2016

Know your rights: Dermott Jewell, consumer expert

An expensive 'change of booking', a split toecap and a lost gift voucher. What are your rights? Our expert has the answers...

Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30

Know your rights
Know your rights

Q: MY WIFE and I were set to travel for a week's break to Portugal. An issue came up making it impossible to travel on the dates set and so I went online to reschedule the flights we had booked for new dates three days later. I used the 'change of booking' facility. What absolutely astounded me was that the cost - just to change - was €246! This is absolutely ridiculous and I am sure there had to be a better way to have cut back on these charges. I would appreciate your advice on this - is there anything I can do?

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A: I AM sorry that this worked out to be so seriously expensive for you and your wife. I have taken a look at the costs you sent me. I can see how they add up very quickly but, as you will see, they are systematic and therefore difficult, to the point of being impossible, to avoid.

Using the 'change of booking' facility automatically sets up a charge per person, per flight of €40. That is €160 for a start. There was then, in your case, a difference in the fare you originally paid for the new outward flight of €19 per passenger and €24 each for the return flight making for an additional €86 to make up the total 'change' cost of €246.

What you could do if this ever occurs again would be to consider and compare the cost of cancelling the original flights and just rebooking.

That way, by cancelling, you could at least claim back the airport taxes on the original flights and try to save some money. That said, there is an 'administration fee' for making that refund which, let's be honest, is both frustrating and over the top!

Q: I paid €190 last October for a pair of walking shoes. In September, after only 11 months of use, a split developed in the toecap of one of the shoes so I returned it to the shop. They explained and I agreed that the shoes should go to the manufacturer for examination. I now have a letter from the company stating that there is not a fault in the materials or the manufacture of the shoe but that the damage is due to the cumulative effects of wear and tear as well as perspiration. Am I entitled to some form of compensation?

A: There is always a difficulty with footwear as there is no guarantee of how long a pair of shoes should last. In addition to that the interpretations of what is considered fair wear and tear vary widely. To be honest, now that there is a report, it is going to be difficult for you to get a refund or replacement, especially as the report finds no fault through manufacture.

However, they were sold as a quality walking shoe and that brings realistic expectations as to lifespan. What I suggest you do is write back to the manufacturer, tell them you are not at all happy with their response and request a copy of the report on your shoes.

You could indicate that you will be questioning why only one shoe has failed and how, under the provisions of the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980, you are advised to question the quality of material used in manufacture rather than the process.

Depending upon the reply - and the possibility of a goodwill gesture - you can still consider taking the issue through the Small Claims Court but do note that the report will be produced and may have an impact on the outcome.

Q: I WAS given a gift voucher but lost it recently when my handbag was stolen. Before I contact the store can you please tell me my rights? Must they replace it for me? I have little detail about it except for when I received it and from whom.

A: As THIS is a gift voucher as opposed to a gift card then these, generally, would be non-specific. This means that the retailer has no way of knowing whether the person who presents the voucher is the rightful owner or not.

Having said that, you should immediately contact the generous person who gave you the voucher and see if it was bought in your name or if there was any form of unique identifier, code or number mentioned or logged at the time it was sold. I do think that a personal visit to the shop is urgently required as they may be able to help you with that detail. It will also help to let them know that it was stolen as they may be able to cancel the original and issue a replacement.

Bottom line though, under the circumstances, if it is non-specific, then there is no entitlement and small chance for compensation of any kind beyond a goodwill gesture.

Irish Independent

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