Monday 22 January 2018

Know your rights: Dermott Jewell, consumer expert

'Supermarket is rounding up price at the till but leaving my loyalty card points short-changed'

Shops in Ireland and rounding up and down bills to the nearest five cents
Shops in Ireland and rounding up and down bills to the nearest five cents

Q: Dear Dermott. I have an issue regarding the rounding process that has been adopted by retailers and hope you can advise. I have a loyalty club card with a well-known supermarket chain. I receive a point for every euro I spend. Last week I purchased an item for €14.99 cash. The price was rounded at the till, I was charged €15.00, but I received only 14 points. I queried this officially and was advised in writing that "this is a part of the Central Banking guidelines" and not that of the supermarket. I find this extraordinary and would appreciate your input. Shane.

A: Extraordinary is being overly generous. This is a prime example of the truly appalling level of customer service that exists behind what is laughingly referred to, by too many retailer outlets, as "rewarding loyalty".

My own organisation has received ­numerous complaints of similar ­practices matched with unbelievably ­incorrect and ­misleading statements in the same terms to the one you were spun. We are highlighting these shortly but, in the ­interim, I suggest you (and readers of this ­column with related ­issues) contact the Central Bank unit by email to - and attach that ridiculous supermarket response.

The Central Bank advises that "for ­rounding to happen, both the retailer and the customer must accept it; both will have the right to use exact change".

Put plainly, ­rounding remains at the ­complete discretion and choice of the paying consumer and no one else.

Regarding the loyalty point - I hope that I have made mine!

Q: My daughter received a brand-name bluetooth keyboard from a relative as a Christmas present. The charger connection is broken and so it will neither charge nor work. We do not have a receipt. I understand the laws regarding receipts, but as this is a brand specific to this particular retailer, I am surprised they will not do anything for me. Can you help please? Laura.

A: Just to clarify, Laura, there are other ways of proving that the item was bought in the store and a bank or credit card statement will serve as proof of purchase also.

However, many of us use cash and this presents problems. This is why there is also the provision that an own-brand product serves, in itself, as proof of purchase, perhaps not from the branch, but certainly from the chain.

Difficulties arise where, as in this case, the chain attempt not to recognise this provision.

I suggest you therefore contact the head office of the organisation and advise how you have been refused your entitlement and how, before referring the issue to the Small Claims Court, you would like them to assist you.

One thing though, Laura, they will likely accept the item back, at least for inspection, so it would be no harm to check online for similar stories of failure with these keyboards to help support your demand for a refund rather than a replacement of what is a potentially inferior product.

Q: I purchased a new tablet by a very well known brand, costing over €200 from a store in the Black Monday sale in November. We only use the device one or two hours max in the evenings and have found it powers itself off (and may or may not reboot itself) a few times per hour, even when fully charged. I have already brought it back to the store twice and have been told there is nothing wrong. However, when we bring it home, it powers off again. Furthermore, the store has told me that if I was to get them to send it off to the manufacturer, it would cost me "about €90" to get tested/fixed. I have the receipt. Any suggestions? Many thanks, Paul.

AI find it really interesting that the same store that tells you there is nothing wrong with the tablet also advises you it will take "about €90" to fix it! It is perfectly clear there is a problem with the tablet - what does appear to be the issue is that it will not, unfortunately, power off while you are in the shop.

I suggest you use it for the next day or so and take note of the time lapses between it powering down, rebooting and so on.

This will give you a firm basis to return the tablet to the store, provide a copy of the detail and request your right to have the item repaired under warranty and at no charge.

If they persist in demanding a fee, then you should advise them you will be making an official complaint to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) regarding their abuse of your basic consumer rights,

Oh, and by the way, your rights and entitlements are the same in a sale as they are with a 'full price' purchase.

Irish Independent

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