Saturday 10 December 2016

Your rights... Dermott Jewell, consumer expert

Published 09/10/2015 | 02:30

Dermott Jewell of the Consumers' Association
Dermott Jewell of the Consumers' Association

An incorrect price given the day before purchase and a change of mind on clothing. What are your rights? Our expert has the answers.

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Question: Just last week I looked at a necklace as a special birthday gift for my mother. I was advised that it was €850. I specifically asked this at the time so that I could enquire regarding insurance. It was agreed that it would be held aside for me. The next day I called in to pay. A different assistant was on duty, he advised me that the necklace was €925 and when I questioned this he advised that his colleague must have made a mistake on the previous day.

Dermott replies:  manager was called but I found him to be unbelievably rude and not prepared to discuss the matter. Is there anything I can do?

A I think the manager's customer relation skills require some urgent attention! But he was entitled to look for the price of €925 for that necklace. It's the consumer who offers to buy any item at the price advised. In legal terms this is known as 'an invitation to treat'. However, the retailer does not have to accept that price if they become aware that a mistake has been made.

In this case you were quoted a price and, if you had acted immediately, then it would have been sold at that price and the shop would have been at the loss of €75. The same would have applied if you had placed a deposit on it. The €850 price would have held firm as it would have given you a binding contract - offer, acceptance and payment. That would have made it impossible for the retailer to change the price.

But the time delay acted against you and the correct price was fairly quoted.

The best you can do here is to write to the owners outlining the circumstances and the poor treatment you believe you received under those circumstances. Legally, however, you have no case as we all have to make allowances for occasional human error.

Question: In March I bought clothes from a store in town. When I got them home I realised that there were two items that I just did not like.

They cost a total of €42 which, while not a lot of money, as they were unworn and with all labels still attached, I brought back for a refund. I was quite unhappy to be told that there was a no refund policy and that a credit note would be the best that they would consider.

On Tuesday I went back to the store. However, the credit note, which was just a till receipt, had disintegrated in my purse and was illegible. They refused to accept it - or my word - that they had issued it in the first place. I am so annoyed. Help! Georgina.

Dermott replies: I'm afraid that I don't have great news for you Georgina. There is little or no comeback on this one without assistance from the store. In the first instance, because there was nothing wrong with the two items, you were never legally entitled to return them. Having said that, you did and they issued a credit note as a gesture of goodwill.

The problem now is how it was your responsibility to look after that credit note and keep it safe. Your inability now to prove that any of this took place puts you in the same position as if you had €42 in cash and lost it.

In the same breath I must say that I would have considered it a simple enough exercise to check the records for what would be a limited number of credit receipts and on a particular date in March!

Irish Independent

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