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Thursday 28 August 2014

Consumer rights still stand even if the dress is on sale

Fergal O'Leary

Published 25/05/2014 | 02:30

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Consumer rights stand, even if goods are purchased during sales. Photo: Tony Gavin
Consumer rights stand, even if goods are purchased during sales. Photo: Tony Gavin

Q I bought a designer dress, which was on sale, for a wedding this summer. I have never worn it except to try it on in the shop. I tried it on yesterday and found a tear in the lining, along a seam.

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I spent a lot of money on it, even though I didn't pay full price, and want to know what I can do now. Do I have fewer rights as the dress was on sale?

Niamh, Gweedore,

Co Donegal

A Your consumer rights don't change just because you bought the dress in a sale. However, the price of some sale items may be reduced because of slight defects.

The retailer does not have to give you your money back if you are complaining about a fault that was pointed out to you before you bought the item.

Whenever you buy goods from a retailer, your contract is with the retailer and you are protected by consumer legislation.

The goods should be of merchantable quality, fit for the purpose intended, and as described. A retailer is always responsible for putting things right if a fault occurs with something they sold you.

As you say you noticed the fault after you bought the dress, you are entitled to a repair, replacement, reduction in price or a full refund. Generally, the quicker you return to the shop, the easier it will be to get a resolution.

You will need a receipt or credit card statement as proof of purchase when you return the dress.

Q I bought a new car two years ago and I am paying back a car loan of almost €500 a month for it. I recently called into the garage where I bought the car to test drive the latest model.

When I was there, the salesman approached me and asked me what I was currently driving. He claimed that with a hire purchase finance agreement the garage could organise, I could buy the latest model for less than I am paying at the moment. This sounds too good to be true so I want to get more information before I go any further.

Barry, Blackrock, Co Dublin

A With a hire purchase contract, it is important to know that the finance company is the owner of the car, and you are hiring the car from them until you have made all the repayments.

At the end of the contract, you can become the owner of the car by making the final repayment. However, with some hire purchase agreements, the final repayment, also known as the balloon payment, can be much larger than the monthly repayments.

Make sure to check the contract you are being offered to see what the repayment schedule is. If there is a large final payment, think about how you will afford this. It is important to always look at the total cost (deposit to be paid, interest rate and final/balloon payment) of the agreement and understand when and what payments are due.

As some hire purchase agreements have lower monthly repayments and a larger final payment, it can take longer to pay half the hire purchase price. This is important if you ever need to avail of the 'half rule', where you can return the car and only have to pay half the hire purchase price.

You can end a hire purchase agreement at any time under the half rule and return the car even if you have not paid half the hire purchase price. But, you will owe the difference between the payments you have made and half the hire purchase price.

Fergal O'Leary is director of public awareness with the National Consumer Agency

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