Q: Dermott, we had some building work carried out recently. The builder was recommended to us through the friend of a friend.
Over the course of two meetings at our home we agreed all of the detail of our requirements, the timeframe for the work and the means of payment including VAT. We each made notes of these terms and conditions and shook hands. The work was completed in December. My problem is that I cannot get any form of an official receipt for any of the work carried out or the payment made.
I need proof for insurance and other purposes. It is now three months later and nothing received. What can I do? Many thanks, George.
A: This is really unusual, George, as, in this case, all of the boxes were ticked except the need for one that stated how an official and detailed invoice would be provided.
You don't mention the format for making contact, the method of making payment or why there was never, ever, any form of headed paper or other documentation between you both. So, I am assuming that cash was a factor.
Let's be kind and consider that it is entirely possible that this builder may have retired or may be ill. Now, coming swiftly back into the real world, I suggest you ask the friend of a friend to see if they are in touch; try to recall the builders providers who delivered to your home and contact them; check with the Construction Industry Federation to see if there are registered details there.
However, I do not think you will be successful and suggest you put this down to experience - although one you can never prove.
Q: Dermott, my daughter placed a deposit of €30 on a watch as a present for her dad. I told her he did not need one and to cancel and get her money back.
She tried but was refused and offered a credit note. I went to the shop and the manager refused to discuss the matter with me without my daughter being present.
What can we do to get her money back please? Helen
A: Hello Helen. The reason why the manager would not speak with you was because it is your daughter that has the consumer contract with the shop. It is her money that is in dispute and consumer law provides that disputes must be between the contracting parties.
With regard to the deposit I have to tell you that, once money is paid, it makes a contract binding. That means that the shop cannot sell the watch and that it must be held until the balance is paid as agreed.
I am afraid that your daughter has unfortunately broken her contract. Now, in general terms that would mean that she either pay the balance or forfeit the deposit. In what is a true example of good customer relations, the shop went beyond that and offered her a credit note to the value of the deposit.
Tell her to look upon it as a saving for Christmas - oh, and act surprised when you get a new watch on December 25.