Know your rights: Dermott Jewell, consumer expert
Can you use the guarantee if you receive something as a gift; the pros and cons of package holidays; and theatre tickets booked for the wrong date. What are your rights? Our expert has the answers
Q: A cousin of mine gave me his laptop last August for my birthday. It's giving me problems and, before I go to try and have it fixed, I wonder if you know could I use the guarantee, even though I didn't buy it?
A: You will be delighted to know that a guarantee on a product gives additional protection and that protection is extended to anyone who has posession of the item during the lifetime of the guarantee. So, you're good on that front.
The contract, on the other hand, is always between the purchaser and the seller of the goods but, in certain circumstances, it may be better to deal directly with the manufacturer through their guarantee system. I recommend you do so on this occasion as I get the impression that this problem is happening a fair while after the original purchase was made by your cousin.
Before making that contact though, I suggest you read over the guarantee because that will give you more information on, for example, the name and address of the person/company to contact who will honour the guarantee; the procedure for making the claim and whether, for example, you must pay any charges to get the laptop repaired - including posting and packaging - which can be expensive depending upon their location.
Lastly, with that done, it would make sense to make a call or two, get a view from a repair outlet as to what might be the problem and the potential cost to repair. Once you have checked these out you can decide for yourself if the costs of using the guarantee outweigh what might be a simple and affordable local repair.
Q: We are planning to go on a package holiday over Easter. It's been years since we have used a travel agent and have usually booked our own flights and accommodation. But, this year we want to just get a break with our connections, meals, day trips and so on included. We are getting mixed views from friends, so we would really appreciate any information on our entitlements and what to look out for.
A: A big selling point for package holidays has always been that, because the travel agent must be bonded in order to be allowed to trade, you have the peace of mind that your money is secure. The next good point is the protection of the Package Holiday and Travel Trade Act that provides how you must be given the full detail of your package, for example, location, price, duration, flight times, transport and accommodation.
Passport and visa requirements, insurance cover and all terms and conditions will be outlined for you. Key to your protection is the brochure which will support those arrangements and conditions and which, under the Act, must be enjoyed by you, exactly as pictured and in the terms described, agreed and paid for as a package.
There can always be problems but there must be a travel company representative at your hotel to assist in resolving any issues.
Q: I bought two very expensive theatre tickets and realised later that I had booked them for the wrong date. I have been on to the agents but they will not refund me. I am really angry because, as I understand it, I am protected by the cooling-off period under EU law. How can I progress this and get my money back please?
A: You are entirely right that for most online purchases the EU Distance Selling Regulations give consumers the right to cancellation and other rights such as a 14-day cooling-off period. Within that time you can freely withdraw from the contract - and without giving a reason.
However, those provisions have a number of exclusions that include airline and concert tickets where the contract is for a defined date. This means that the seller, as in your case here, has no obligation to refund or exchange the tickets.
You could get in touch with the venue ticket office and explain your problem to see if they can help. If there is high demand for tickets and they offer to resell your tickets then you have the consideration of rebooking for the date you need - with fingers crossed that those originals sell!