Can I get deposit back after wedding dress delivery delay?
Your questions answered
Q. I put down a sizeable deposit on my wedding dress in a bridal shop about six months ago. At the time, we agreed a date for delivery of my dress - but the shop has now told me it won't arrive until a date that is very close to my wedding day.
I want my deposit back so I can try and get another dress in time for my wedding. Do I have any options?
Mary, Co Kilkenny
When you paid the deposit, you and the business entered into a contract. This should have set out the amount you paid, the balance - and when it is due to be paid, and the delivery date. If the business tells you that your delivery will be delayed, you should first try to negotiate a new, reasonable date for delivery. If you cannot agree a new date, then you should ask for your deposit back as the contract you entered into with the shop has not been honoured.
If the business refuses to return your deposit, you may have to take legal action to try to get your deposit back. Put your complaint and request in writing to the business. Keep all records of any communication with the trader, or records of any attempts to communicate with the trader as this evidence may be required for legal action.
If your claim is less than €2,000, you can use the small claims procedure to resolve the issue. It costs €25, which is non-refundable, to lodge an application with the Small Claims Registrar and the procedure is a relatively cheap and easy way for consumers to resolve some types of disputes, generally without having to use a solicitor. You can lodge your claim online at courts.ie, or download the Small Claim application form from the site.
Communion cash lesson
Q. My son has just had his Communion and he's eager to start spending the money he got from family and friends. How can I use this opportunity to teach him about the importance of saving?
Joanna, Co Kildare
Learning about money is a vital life skill. Like most things, children learn their money habits from their parents - from watching and listening to them in day-to-day situations. So it's never too early to start helping children learn about money. Teaching a child about managing money at an early age will give them the skills to manage their own money responsibly when they are older and should make future conversations about money easier.
Your son's Communion money provides a great opportunity to have discussions about what he plans to do with his money. This will help him learn what money can buy him and teach him that he has to make choices. Obviously, you don't want him to spend the whole lot and it is a good idea to encourage children to save from an early age. One of the best ways to help children learn about money management is to encourage them to open a savings account. Banks, credit unions and the Post Office offer children's savings accounts. If the account has online access or a savings book, you can show your son at any time how their savings are growing.
You may find your child losing interest in saving their money or becoming frustrated when they want to buy something straight away without having enough saved. A way to encourage them to continue saving could be to match the amount they contribute each time to their savings. Doing this will also help them reach their goal.
The key to continuing the savings habit long-term is to keep it fun and keep them involved. Many financial institutions offer novel and entertaining characters to help kids learn about money. They may also offer useful online resources which can help to make savings fun and interesting for the kids.
Encourage your son to develop good financial habits. Once he opens a savings account encourage him to save more regularly, such as putting away some of his pocket money or gifts from relatives. This will help form the habit of saving from an early age.
A great way to help your child get started and learn how to budget and save is to have three jars - one of which is for spending, the other for saving (for a specific goal) and the last one for the future (money that is put away and can't be touched until an agreed time in the future). Teaching your child the importance of putting a little away for a special event or a rainy day is a good way for them to be prepared for what might happen in the future.
For more tips on how to get children saving, visit ccpc.ie.
Starting a pension
Q. I am in my early 30s and have recently started a new job. My employer does not have a pension scheme and I am wondering if it is legally required to provide one? What do I need to think about in setting up my own pension?
John, Co Sligo
Considering your options for retirement as early as possible is important and the choices you make now in terms of your pension will have an impact on your income and the lifestyle you can afford when you do retire.
Planning your pension might seem like a complicated task, but it will be worth it as the earlier you start, the more time you have to build up your contributions. In terms of what you need to know, there are three main types of pension plans eligible to most people: an employer pension scheme, a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) and a Personal Pension Plan (PPP).
While your employer is not legally obliged to provide a pension scheme for you, it must provide you with access to at least one standard PRSA. A PRSA is a type of personal pension policy that is open to anyone - the employed, the self-employed or those currently not working. They are more flexible than traditional personal pension plans and your regular contributions to a PRSA are also tax-deductible within certain limits.
Another alternative is to consider a PPP. This is a private pension managed for you by a life assurance company or investment firm. Anyone who is self-employed can start a PPP, as can someone who has a source of relevant earnings and is not in an occupational pension scheme. PPPs are not as flexible as PRSAs, therefore you should research whether or not this type of plan would be suitable for you.
Pensions are complex products and can be difficult to understand. They are long-term investments, so it is essential that you understand the types of fund you're investing in and that you are comfortable with the level of risk. You should therefore strongly consider getting financial advice. The website ccpc.ie provides information about how to choose a financial adviser. A good source of information about pensions is pensionsauthority.ie.
Once you have set up your pension, it is important to regularly review your plan to see how it is performing, especially to make sure you are contributing enough to give you the income you need at retirement.
Email your questions to email@example.com or write to 'Your Questions, Sunday Independent Business, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.
While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert for your query, this column is not intended to replace professional advice.
Aine Carroll is director of communications and policy with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ccpc.ie)
Sunday Indo Business