Tuesday 24 October 2017

Know your rights: Dermott Jewell, consumer expert

Know your rights
Know your rights

A premium for my husband's penalty points, a TV that blew up, and a crazy tartan carpet. What are your rights? Our expert advises

Q: Both my wife and I have been driving on full licences and without any claim or conviction for over 25 years. In July my wife renewed her car insurance with our son and myself as named drivers. The cost was €1,400. Soon after she realised that I had 5 penalty points rather than the 2 advised. A call to the company added €580 to the premium. So, she advised the company to remove me from the policy. They did but the €580 charge remained and they are refusing to make any refund. So, to get to the main issue Dermott, can she cancel the policy, demand a refund for the remaining 10 months and go elsewhere - for a much lower premium too?

A: The company is not properly explaining the price-remains-the-same issue on this one and I would suggest your wife demand specifics. For example, the policy is now changed to an 'Insured Only' rating that often carries a loading. However, to get to your queries.

Yes, the policy can be cancelled. This can be done with a phone call but must be followed by a return of the original insurance certificate and disc and a letter confirming the cancellation and, key here, that there are no potential claim issues unreported or pending. I recommend you hand deliver or send these by registered post. When agreed, if applicable, cancel any direct debit payment arrangements immediately.

Insurance policies have a 14-day cooling-off period within which there is no cancellation fee. After that, many companies introduce both an administration charge for cancellation and a sliding scale of deduction based on the months the policy was in force e.g. two months 30pc, 3 months 40pc and so on - the terms will be on the website of your wife's insurance company. She needs to move quickly on this if she is to save any real money by switching now.

Finally, haggle on the deductions and, to go elsewhere, make sure to get a new copy of the No Claims Discount certificate. If there is a breakdown in communication I suggest you contact Insurance Ireland at iis@insuranceireland.eu or call (01) 676 1914.

Q: A rarely used TV at our holiday home that came with a two-year warranty in September 2013, blew up last April. The retailer took it in and repaired it but it broke down again in July. I took it back looking for a replacement/refund and was told that they had the opportunity to repair it three times before considering even a replacement. There was no store policy showing or stating this. They have offered an additional one-year guarantee. However, I am afraid for my safety and would appreciate your advice.

A: The Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act, 1980 makes no mention of a three-time repair option. What it does do however is provide that any item sold and any repair carried out to that item, must restore it to its proper working state. The overarching provision is that the item is safe and poses no risk or threat to life or property.

While the additional guarantee is a reasonable offer it is a fact that the first repair was ineffective placing you in the not unreasonable position where you have entirely lost faith in the product and its safety. I suggest you tell them this and how, under the circumstances and before you refer the issue to the Small Claims Court for consideration, you think they should replace the TV.

Q: A friend bought a checked tartan type patterned stair carpet from a reputable carpet shop. When fitted, he discovered that it won't match and there is an uneven pattern running up the stairs. The shop have stated that, if he wanted to have an even pattern running up the stairs then there would have been a lot more wastage and, obviously, carpet required which would have been more expensive. None of this was mentioned when he chose the carpet. Has he any comeback?

A: Your friend approached the experts in carpet supply and advised what he needed. When it comes in a pattern of any kind, then a basic 'given' expectation would be that, when laid, it would match in pattern. We don't buy insufficient rolls of wallpaper because the seller advises how much we need for it to match. If there were any special or problematic issues relating to the layout then the reliance upon the experts would come to the fore.

In this case that would be something like: "These are the measurements - how much do I need?" You shouldn't have to say "Oh, and by the way, I would like the pattern to match" when you are dealing with experts! I recommend this be pointed out to the company. They got it wrong on this occasion and they need to arrange for immediate replacement of the carpet with payment due - only - (although goodwill for time wasting comes to mind) for the additional meters required. If there was a cost for laying then that too will require to be paid by the shop.

Irish Independent

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