How do I get money back from website that sent faulty runners?
I ordered a new pair of runners online recently. Unfortunately when the runners arrived, the seams were badly damaged.
I bought them from what I thought was a reputable sporting website in Britain. When I contacted the website about returning the runners, it insisted that they were in perfect condition when it sent them to me and that I must have damaged them by not using them correctly.
However, I have never worn them! What can I do to get my money back?
Fionn, Lifford, Co Donegal
When you buy something online, your consumer rights are the same as if you bought them from a shop. So, the goods should be of merchantable quality, fit for the purpose intended and as described.
If what you buy turns out to be faulty, you are generally entitled to a repair, replacement, reduction in the price, or a full refund.
You should now make a formal complaint to the company, outlining the fault you have identified with the runners and asking it to respond with a resolution for you.
Sometimes it can be more effective to make a complaint in writing or if the company has a Facebook or Twitter presence, you could also contact them there and outline the issue.
Since you bought the runners online from Britain, it would be worthwhile contacting the European Consumer Centre Ireland (see eccireland.ie).
It provides free and confidential information on your consumer rights in the EU, and can help consumers with cross-border disputes such as this.
I have just been promoted and want to try and save the extra money I will be earning to build up a 'rainy day' fund.
However I have been looking at the return on savings accounts and they are quite poor.
I am thinking of dabbling in the stock market but have no experience of investing. Do you have any tips?
Tom, Terenure, Dublin 6
Take time to consider all your options before deciding what to do with your money. You don't say if you have any outstanding debts, such as credit card debt or an overdraft, but if you do, you might consider paying off some or all of your debts first as this will save you money.
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself to help you decide if investing is the best option for you. With a savings product, you don't risk losing your lump sum but they generally offer a lower return than investments. Investments tend to have a higher return but do come with a risk of you losing some or all of your money. You will have to pay Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) on any interest earned on savings and an exit tax on money you make from investing.
You also need to think about when you will need to access your money. With some investment products, such as bonds, you cannot usually withdraw your money until the bond matures. If you try and withdraw your money before then, you will lose money.
It is important to examine the fees and charges on investment products. They can significantly reduce the value of your investment - especially any charges that are ongoing and that are based on a percentage of your investment. Different investments products may have higher charges, but this is no reflection of how well they will perform.
Before taking out an investment, it is crucial that you fully understand any product you are thinking about signing up to. If you are not sure or if you want help, it may be worthwhile getting advice from an independent and authorised financial adviser.
I understand that there are some changes happening which may mean I could end up paying more for private health insurance.
So, I am considering taking out health insurance for the first time and there seems to be some really good offers out there. However, there are a lot of plans and I am not sure which one is the right one for me. I have not had cover before and am 37 years old. How do I work out what plan to go for?
Aisling, Lucan, Dublin 20
The Government is introducing new regulations from May 1 that impact the health insurance market.
From that date, if you are over 34 years old and are buying a private health insurance policy for the first time, you will be charged an extra 2pc on your premium for every year you are aged over 34.
For example, if you take out a private health insurance policy for the first time at the age of 40, you will pay an additional 12pc on your premium every year.
Some allowances are made if you previously had health insurance or if you had to cancel your cover due to unemployment since 2008. If you do decide to take out health insurance before May 1, you won't have to pay the additional charge.
When it comes to choosing a policy, ask yourself what type of cover you are looking for. Are you are looking for basic cover or are you prepared to pay more so you are covered for treatment in a private hospital?
What excess (the first part of a claim you pay for yourself) applies if you have to make a claim? If you plan on having a family, you may be interested in maternity benefits. Check the conditions of your cover and any restrictions that apply before you sign up to a policy. You can use the cost comparison on the Health Insurance Authority's website (hia.ie) to compare the benefits of all private health insurance plans.
Fergal O'Leary is director of communications and consumer help at the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission
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Sunday Indo Business