Sunday 18 February 2018

How can I sort out my faulty fridge when the shop refuses to help?

Fergal O'leary
Fergal O'leary

Fergal O'Leary

I bought a fridge recently and it's no longer working - there is an issue with the thermostat and the fridge is only lukewarm when I open it. It came with a one-year guarantee. I contacted the shop where I bought the fridge and they sent a repairman who said it seems to be fine but, because we insisted it's not working correctly, he said he would order a part. Since then, he hasn't come back or been in touch. When we contacted the shop again to find out what was happening, it said it wasn't its problem and it was up to the repair man to fix it. I am now left with a faulty fridge - who do I turn to next for help?

Eithne, Naas, Co Kildare

When you buy a good or a service, your contract is with the seller of the goods - in this case, the shop who sold you the fridge. If there is a problem with the product, it is up to the seller to put things right.

If your fridge is not working properly, then it is considered a "major fault". You are entitled to a repair, replacement, or refund. If you are unhappy with the response the retailer has offered you, you should make a formal complaint to it in writing. Further details on how to complain to a retailer are available on the website of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (

After this, if you still cannot get a satisfactory response from the retailer, you can consider using the small claims process. Or you could use your guarantee - considering you need a working fridge in the short term. A guarantee is a commitment from the manufacturer confirming that it will repair or replace an item if something goes wrong within a certain amount of time after you buy it.

However, remember that a guarantee does not replace your consumer rights and you should inform the retailer of that fact.

I was recently contacted on Facebook to say I have won the Spanish lottery. The person who contacted me told me that I have won a load of money but in order to get it, I would need to send him €2,000 by money transfer.

I am pretty sure this is a scam - except I was on holiday in Spain recently and I did buy a lottery ticket when I was there.

Could I be a winner?

Eddie, Gorey, Co Wexford

Many lotteries are genuine, and are run by reputable organisations. But some are scams designed to rip off consumers. When you bought your lottery ticket in Spain, did you give the vendor your contact details? If not, how did the person know to contact you on Facebook?

My guess is that it is just a coincidence that you were in Spain and bought a ticket and have now been contacted about winning the Spanish lottery.

While we would all love to win big, there are some tell-tale signs that you are being targeted by a scammer. He may say, as in your case, you have already scooped the first prize worth millions of euro. Always be wary if you are contacted about being a winner in this type of way. Despite "already being a winner", you are asked to make a payment or purchase or phone call to claim your prize - in your case, by money transfer.

Once the money is transferred, you have little or no chance of getting any money back as it cannot be traced.

Other signs of a scam include the company only giving a PO box number and no geographical address - making it very hard for you to contact it. Also, when it contacts you, it may say that it has been trying to get in touch with you for a long time and that this is a final notice of an "urgent prize payment". The oldest, simplest advice is still the best way of protecting yourself against scammers - if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

I received a gift voucher for Christmas which I was planning on using to get myself ready for my summer holidays. The voucher was for a treatment in a beauty salon. I recently moved house and lost my voucher during the move. Can I insist on the salon honouring my voucher?

Karen, Tallaght, Dublin 24

When a gift voucher is lost or stolen, the shop is under no legal obligation to replace it. It's just like losing cash. However, it is worth contacting the salon to see what its policy is.

If the voucher was made out specifically to you and was not transferable to another person, the salon may have a record of your name and the amount, and so it may issue you with a new one and cancel the original voucher.

This option is more common in the case of gift cards, where there is an electronic record of the card which may come with a security code. It may be possible to have these cancelled, with a new card being issued, although there can be a fee for doing this.

You would also need a receipt or proof of purchase to be able to do this. Considering you received the voucher as a gift, you would have to contact the person who gave it to you and ask for proof of purchase - if he or she has it.

Whether you have proof of purchase or not, you are still depending on the goodwill of the salon when it decides to honour the missing voucher - or not.

Fergal O'Leary is director of communications and consumer help at the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Email your questions to 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.

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