Tuesday 20 August 2019

Do I have to pay the full funeral bill - even though it is €2,000 more than original quote?

Fergal O'Leary

My father passed away recently and it has been a very difficult time. A funeral director took care of all of the arrangements - and I have just received a final bill which is €2,000 more than the quote given to me.

My father had not made any arrangements to pay for his funeral so I will be paying the bill in full.

Do I have any rights to query it at this stage, even though the service has been provided?

Joan, Tallaght, Dublin 24

It can be very stressful coping with the loss of a loved one as well as organising a funeral. You don't mention if the quote you received was written or verbal. If it was a written quote, this puts you in a stronger position. A written quote is binding once you did not make any additions or changes.

You should request an itemised bill and compare it against the quote to make sure nothing extra was provided. Then write a letter to the funeral director explaining why you are disputing the bill and include the original quote.

If you find something extra was included that you did not ask for, query this with them. You can find sample complaint letters on the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission's consumer website (www.consumerhelp.ie) which may help.

Check too if the funeral director is a member of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) as it has a customer service charter that includes a complaints procedure. This procedure involves investigating complaints, trying to find a resolution and providing a full response in writing within 30 days.

I returned from two weeks' holiday earlier this month. Unfortunately, I had no baggage with me when on holidays, because my airline mislaid it after I checked it in at Dublin Airport - and so it never turned up in the airport which we flew out to.

It was only after I flew home from Ireland that the airline returned my baggage to me. I had to buy new clothes, medicines, cosmetics and sun cream while abroad as a result.

Am I entitled to any compensation for my delayed baggage and if so, how would I go about claiming it?

Karen, Santry, Dublin 9

In the case of luggage delay, the airline is liable, unless it took all reasonable measures to avoid the delay - or it was impossible to take such measures. If it does offer compensation for a delay, some airlines pay a set amount per day, and some may refund any essential expenditure you incurred, as long as you provide receipts.

Generally, if your luggage does not turn up at the airport when you land, it is important that you report this at the airport baggage hall immediately. Keep your boarding card and baggage reference number and complete a Property Irregularity Report before leaving the baggage hall. Filling it out proves you notified the airline of the problem at the time of discovery.

Make sure to get a copy of the form. You then need to make a separate written claim to the airline. You can seek compensation for delay, damage or loss but you must do so within 21 days of getting your luggage back, if you do get it back.

Another avenue open to you is to make a claim under your travel insurance policy, if you have one. The terms and conditions of travel insurance can differ greatly across providers, so check your policy to see what your entitlements are.

I bought a second-hand car from a garage six months ago. The engine overheated recently and now it keeps cutting out.

The dealer says that because the car is out of warranty, I will have to pay to get it repaired. Is there anything I can do?

Michael, Newbridge, Co Kildare

As you bought your second-hand car from a dealer, you have rights under consumer law. This means that the car should be of merchantable quality - that is, it should be of reasonable, acceptable quality given the age and history of the car; and it should be fit for the purpose intended, and roadworthy. It should also match the description of the car given verbally or in the advertisement.

As you have already complained to the dealer, I would recommend that you follow-up by writing a letter or email outlining your issue and asking what they intend to do about it, so you will have a record of your communication with the dealer.

You may want to get an independent mechanic to check the car out on your behalf and write a report on the fault that has occurred. If the report states that the fault should not be occurring in a car of its age and condition, you may be able to use this report when dealing with the garage - or if you take further action. If you get no satisfaction from the garage, check to see if the dealer is a member of the Society of Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) as it handles complaints arising from the purchase of vehicles from SIMI members.

Alternatively, if your claim does not exceed €2,000, you have the option of making a claim against the seller through the small claims process. If your claim exceeds €2,000, you could consider taking legal advice.

Finally, it is an offence under road traffic legislation for a dealer to provide misleading information about the car, including its history, specification and any repair work needed - or to withhold information. It is also an offence for a dealer to sell a car that is not roadworthy.

This means that it must be safe for you and for other road users. You should contact the gardaí if you suspect a car is not roadworthy.

I am currently looking to switch mortgage providers. I have been looking into the costs involved and was quite surprised by the amount my solicitor had quoted for legal fees. He has said that it will amount to €1,400 and this includes a discount.

I feel that this is a lot to charge for what would appear to me as a straightforward process. Is this what people normally pay?

Mark, Clontarf, Dublin 3

It is always a good idea to know in advance what costs are involved when you require the services of a solicitor. For services relating to mortgages, whether you are moving house or just switching your provider, there is no standard rate charged by solicitors.

Solicitors may charge a percentage of the total mortgage or a fixed fee and the cost can vary greatly - so get a number of quotes.

In your case, when you are comparing lenders, check to see if they offer to meet the cost - or pay a contribution toward legal fees.

Also, just so you are aware, some lenders will look to recover any money they pay towards legal fees if you switch mortgage provider again within a set time. You should check this in the terms and conditions of the new mortgage contract.

Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.

While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

Director of communications and consumer help at the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Sunday Indo Business

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