Know your rights: Dermott Jewell, consumer expert
An adaptor plug that never arrived, credit note confusion, and a serious issue with a used car. What are your rights? Our expert has the answers...
Q: Hello Dermott. On January 4, I ordered an adapter plug from a music store and paid €9.95 using my credit card. The item was meant to arrive by post but I never received it. I sent an email and got a reply which said that according to their records it was posted out, that they would check that day and, if necessary, would have another sent out. I still have not received the item and I needed it urgently. I have sent five emails to them asking for the item to be posted out or a refund of my money but nobody will reply and I'm out of pocket. So what do I do? It's a small sum of money but I can hardly just forget about the matter and let them off the hook! Ryan.
A: What annoys me most is how bad this company are in terms of customer service and, more importantly, your rights under EU law! Let me explain. Items bought online must be delivered within 30 days. If they are not received then a new delivery date can be agreed between you both. However, you mention that you needed this urgently. The law specifies that you have the right to cancel after 30 days has expired if delivery was essential within the 30 days. As it was, and as the 30 days have expired, you are entitled to a full refund within 14 days.
I therefore suggest you contact your credit card company and advise them of the detail you and I have provided here.
Advise that, as per this advice, you are putting them on notice and also under Section 14 of the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act, 1980 that you are refuting the charge against your credit card and want it reversed.
Copy the email to the company, tell them you are reporting them for breaching the EU Regulation and it will, I believe, receive some urgent attention. Time to reel them in, Ryan!
Q: My boyfriend bought me a bracelet in a local jewellery shop. It cost €249. I returned this to the shop and received a credit note. At a recent sale I chose a chain and offered the credit note to pay. I was informed that they would not let me have it at the sale price because I was using a credit note so I had to pay the full price. I travelled to their shop in another county and got matching earrings at sale price and used the credit note to pay.
I called back today to the local shop and again inquired about their policy. They firmly again stated that they would not give a sale price when using a credit note to pay. They also told me that the other branch should not have done so. Can you please confirm for me is this wrong or what rights do I have?
A: This boils down to the 'policy' that has been advised to you. If it is an official policy then it must state it on the credit note and there must be a Policy Document available to you to support this Terms and Condition. Otherwise, the impression I get is that they are making this up as they go along - and it is not acceptable.
Without a clear statement on the credit note, you were fully entitled to receive the item at the reduced sale price - as was correctly done in the second branch.
Mistakes can happen but I suggest you send a letter, with this response attached, to the head office of the company and addressed to the CEO. Request a refund of the difference and an explanation for the refusal. An apology would not go amiss either.
Q: I recently bought a used car from a registered dealer in Dublin. Shortly after the sale I noticed that there was black tape covering the engine light on the dashboard making it invisible to me. This light should go out within seconds after starting the car. When I look behind the tape I have noticed that the light is not going out. This indicates a problem with the car and I believe I have been misled. I want to return the car and get a full refund. I am waiting to hear back from the dealer. I would appreciate your advice. Tom.
A: Tom, this must be resolved immediately as this raises the issue of safety. I suggest you put this in writing to the dealer by email advising that you expect a response within 24 hours. Specify that, failing that reply, you will immediately refer the matter to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) as well as your solicitor. Under the provisions of the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act, 1980 you will be claiming that you have been sold a car that has been tampered with, rendering it potentially unsafe, not as described and, as a direct result, of poor quality and unfit for its purpose.
Dermott Jewell is a consumer rights expert and the Policy and Council Adviser at the Consumers' Association of Ireland. If you have a consumer-related query you'd like Dermott to help you with, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org