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Wednesday 18 September 2019

How can I avoid hitches if I switch my current account?

Your questions answered

Email your questions to or write to 'Your Questions, Sunday Independent Business, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'. Stockphoto
Email your questions to or write to 'Your Questions, Sunday Independent Business, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'. Stockphoto

Áine Carroll

Q I have recently been told that my bank is increasing my transaction fees on my current account. I notice from other bank adverts that there are cheaper accounts out there. I want to switch but am worried about moving all my direct debits, and possible missed payments if it doesn't go to plan. How can I make sure it all runs smoothly? Mary, Co Mayo

If you decide to switch, the Central Bank of Ireland has a switching code, which is designed to make the process as quick and easy as possible.

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Firstly, pick a new provider. Your new bank will supply you with a switching pack in its branch or on its website and this will include its step-by-step switching guide. As you are applying for a new account, you will need ID and proof of address. If you have an existing overdraft facility and want the same facility on your new account, you should discuss this with your new bank, as you will need to make an application.

The next step is to pick a date in the month to switch your accounts. You should pick a date when activity on your account is low - to avoid any missed payments. Once this date is agreed, your new bank will send your completed switching form to your old bank, who will notify any company you have a direct debit with of your new account details, so it can update its records. Your new bank will set up the direct debits to go from your new account.

If you have direct debits outside Ireland, you will have to notify these providers yourself. The same applies if you have any recurring payments on your debit card, such as music streaming or a gym membership. These don't count as direct debits and won't be moved over as part of the switching process.

An important part of the switching process is notifying your employer and anyone else who lodges money into your account, such as the Department of Social Protection, and providing them with your new account details.

Your switching pack will have sample letters you can use. You need to do this yourself, as neither your old or new bank will do this for you.

To complete the switching process, the balance in your old account will be transferred, but you should leave enough money in it to cover any fees or payments that you may owe. Your new account will be fully operational and you will receive a new debit card. Depending on your choice, your old account can either be closed or left open.

Travel cover dilemma

Q: I am travelling to Spain in September and was considering buying travel insurance. However, I have private health insurance which covers a lot. So do I need to bother with travel insurance? John, Co Meath

With your private health insurance, you may already have some level of cover for illness and injury when you are abroad - so check your policy before you buy so that you don't end up paying for insurance you may not need.

Irish citizens can also get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), so you should apply for this before you travel. This card entitles you to free or reduced-cost State-provided healthcare when visiting a European Union country or Switzerland. However, the EHIC does not replace travel insurance. It only covers necessary healthcare and in some European countries, you will have to make some payment toward the cost of the healthcare services you receive.

It is important to be clear about what your private health insurance and the EHIC actually cover. For example, they may cover any urgent medical expenses you have while abroad - but won't cover any of the other mishaps that can happen, such as delayed luggage, cancelled flights, a missed departure, or theft of your passport. So even if you have private health insurance, you may need to consider a travel insurance policy to cover other potential events.

Also, even if you have a high level of medical cover, having an accident or health issue while abroad can incur other costs - such as booking new flights, or extra nights' accommodation - so think about whether you need a travel insurance policy in those circumstances.

If you decide to take out travel insurance, always shop around. Policy terms and conditions differ between providers. Some policies have specific conditions, such as no cover for mobile phones, lost baggage or cancelled flights. So before you buy a policy, you need to be sure that you know what you're covered for, what is excluded, and what excess you may have to pay if you make a claim. (The excess is the first part of a claim you must pay yourself.)

If you are not clear about any terms and conditions, contact your provider before you travel, for your own peace of mind. Also, if you travel more than once a year, consider taking out an annual travel insurance policy. This may work out a lot cheaper.

If you are planning to take part in any adventure activities while you are away, make sure you identify this when choosing your policy. Some policies, for example, will not cover you for medical costs if you have an accident during activities such as skiing or hill walking.

Finally, you should consider taking out a travel insurance policy as soon as you book your trip, as this will cover you if you need to cancel for a reason covered under the policy.

No proof of purchase

Q: I bought a microwave in a big supermarket recently. I want to return it as when I got it home, it would not turn on. The store has said I need to provide proof of purchase. I don't have my receipt. Any advice? Chris, Co Louth

As it seems the fault with the microwave is major and occurred within the first six months of purchase, under consumer legislation, it is assumed that the fault was there at the time of sale - and so you have a right to reject the goods and rescind the contract.

The option to reject and rescind is complex and can depend on a number of factors. For example, the severity of the fault (it must be a major fault), the length of time since you bought the goods, and the inconvenience caused to you as a result of the fault.

The shop is entitled to request proof of purchase, but this doesn't have to be the shop receipt. Proof of purchase could be a credit or debit card statement, or if the product is own-brand and has clearly come from the retailer in question, this may be accepted as proof of purchase. Finally, if you are not happy with the solution the shop offers you, you may wish to consider putting a complaint to it in writing.

Following this, if the issue is still not resolved to your satisfaction, then you could consider making a claim using the Small Claims Procedure.

This is a fast and effective way to resolve a complaint and is designed to deal with consumer claims of up to €2,000. The current non-refundable fee for making a claim is €25.

Áine Carroll is director of communications and policy with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Sunday Indo Business

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