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Friday 2 December 2016

Your Questions: I can't get a motor insurer to quote me after spending two years abroad - what can I do?

Fergal O'Leary

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

If you are refused cover by three or more insurance companies, you can contact the declined cases committee of Insurance Ireland. It will get an insurance quote for you (usually the first company you approached will be asked to quote) unless there are good public policy reasons why you should not be given motor insurance (Stock picture)
If you are refused cover by three or more insurance companies, you can contact the declined cases committee of Insurance Ireland. It will get an insurance quote for you (usually the first company you approached will be asked to quote) unless there are good public policy reasons why you should not be given motor insurance (Stock picture)

I have been living in Australia for the past two years. I moved back to Ireland last month and have been shopping around for car insurance.

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I have a full driving licence but I have been refused by a number of insurers because I have been living abroad and so I don't have a no-claims bonus. Are insurers allowed to refuse me because of this?

Nick, Ennis, Co Clare

Motor insurance is required by law in Ireland - however, it is a commercial decision for each insurance company whether or not to provide a motor insurance quote.

A range of factors may be taken into consideration by the insurance company when making the decision to provide you with a quote, such as the number of years' driving experience you have and your no-claims bonus discount - as well as other factors such as the age of the car, what the car is used for, previous convictions and so on. If you are refused cover by three or more insurance companies, you can contact the declined cases committee of Insurance Ireland. It will get an insurance quote for you (usually the first company you approached will be asked to quote) unless there are good public policy reasons why you should not be given motor insurance. It is important that you keep note of the order in which you looked for quotes.

I'm starting college this month and have begun the difficult task of finding somewhere to rent. I found a suitable place on a reputable website and the price seemed very reasonable given its location. I emailed the landlord who replied saying he was happy to rent me the property but as he lives abroad, I would need to transfer my first month's rent - plus my deposit - via a money-wiring service. He said that once he received this money, he would arrange to have the keys delivered to me. I'm just wondering does this sound right to you?

Emma, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan

As you probably know, there is a shortage of rented properties in most areas which means that demand is high - particularly at this time of year when students are going back to college. Unfortunately, scammers are aware of this too and they use it as an opportunity to try and scam people.

I would be very cautious about paying out money in this case. As you have not seen the property, you don't know if it actually exists - or if it does, is it actually available for rent?

Scammers often post photos of genuine properties on websites so if you check on online maps, the property does exist and all seems in order. It is very important, however, to carry out a number checks before handing over any money. If at all possible, physically view the property (inside and out) and make sure you are happy with its condition before you agree to anything. Watch out for incorrect contact details and phone numbers - such as an email address which bounces, or the phone ringing out. If the landlord is telling you he lives abroad, ask him to have someone else meet you at the property on his behalf and only pay a deposit face-to-face after viewing the property. However, don't make any payments until you have been given the keys and have signed the rental contract. Paying by cheque or bank draft ensures that your money is traceable. If you pay via a money-wiring service, you have no way of tracing the payment - and you will have no comeback if something goes wrong.

I recently bought a dress in an expensive boutique for the wedding of a friend. To my horror on the day - which was the first time I'd worn it, the dress split up the back and I had to cover it up with my jacket. I returned the dress to the shop and told them that I wasn't happy with a repair in case the same thing happened again - and that I wanted a refund. However, the shop is insisting on a repair instead. Am I entitled to a refund?

Rose, Montenotte, Co Cork

When you buy a dress, or any other item, from a retailer or shop, you are protected by consumer legislation. The item you buy should be of an acceptable standard, fit for the purpose intended, and as described. If you feel that your dress was faulty because of the way it was manufactured, you are entitled to look for a repair, a replacement or a refund.

I note that you complained to the shop about the faulty dress and it offered to repair it for you. If you are unhappy with the offer of a repair, I would suggest you make a formal complaint by putting it in writing to the shop; outlining the problem, telling it that you are not happy with their offer of repair, and saying that you would like a refund. If you need help with this, we have template complaint letters available on our website, consumerhelp.ie. If, following that, you are still unhappy with the shop's response, another option is to use the Small Claims Process. This can be done through your local district court. It accepts cases up to the value of €2,000 and there is a non-refundable fee of €25 to make a claim.

I treated myself to a juicer in the January sales earlier this year. It has been working perfectly up until a few weeks ago and it is now faulty. I took it back to the shop where I bought it and the shop said that as the juicer came with a manufacturer's guarantee, I should contact the manufacturer directly.

However, when I contacted the manufacturer, it said that my guarantee is invalid because I hadn't registered my juicer with it within the first month of purchase. Surely this isn't right - can the manufacturer do this?

Daniel, Rush, Co Dublin

In situations like this, it is important to remember that guarantees offered by manufacturers are in addition to your consumer rights. With some guarantees, there can be certain terms, such as a requirement to register the product with the manufacturer within a certain time in order to activate the guarantee.

If the product was not registered within this time,the guarantee may not be valid. From the information you have provided, it appears this is what has happened in this case. Notwithstanding this, your consumer rights still apply. If you feel that, based on the amount you paid for the juicer and the level of use so far, this fault should not have occurred at this stage of its lifetime, you are entitled to return it to the place you bought it from and seek redress under your statutory rights.

If you are unhappy with the response the store offers you at that point, we would suggest that you send a complaint to the store in writing, outlining the above, and tell them how you would like the issue to be resolved. More information on how to make a complaint can be found on our website - consumerhelp.ie.

Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.

While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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