Sunday 21 October 2018

'I paid a deposit before I heard bad company reviews. Can I cancel the contact and get my money back?'

Contract (Stock)
Contract (Stock)

Aine Carroll

Your consumer questions answered

Question

A sales agent rang to say his company was in my area doing house calls to upgrade the heating system in local houses.

I made an appointment for them to come and agreed to sign up to have the work done. Since then, a neighbour told me some negative things about the company based on things he has heard in our neighbourhood and I don't want to go ahead. I have paid a €1,000 deposit. Where do I stand?

Emma, Crumlin, Dublin 12

Answer

It is a good idea to look for reviews or references about a company you are not familiar with, particularly if spending a large sum of money with them. Always do your homework before committing to anything on the spot.

When you sign up to a contract for a service in your home, you have the same consumer rights as when you buy in a shop. But you also have some additional rights. If a salesperson representing a business calls to your home, and if the goods you buy cost €50 or more, then you must be given a written cancellation form. In most cases, you have the right to cancel the contract within 14 days - a time frame known as the 'cooling-off' period. If you want to cancel but you are outside your 14-day statutory cooling-off period, you will be subject to any cancellation policy of the company. Contact the company as soon as possible and check its policy.

In your case, you should have received the cancellation form when you signed the contract. It should be clear and easy to read - and not hidden away in small print. It should include the name of the business and give the name and address of a person that the cancellation form should be sent to, and the date that the notice was given to you. Once you are within 14 days of the date you signed up to the service, you can complete the cancellation form and return it to the company stating your intention to cancel and requesting a refund of the €1,000 deposit you paid.

If you cancel within the cooling-off period and run into difficulties getting a refund of your deposit, another option is the Small Claims procedure. This is a relatively cheap, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve some types of disputes, generally without having to use a solicitor, if the claim is for €2,000 or less.

Aine O'Carroll is director of communications and market insights with the CCPC (ccpc.ie)

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