Saturday 21 September 2019

Is it a smart move to insure my gadgets?

Your questions answered

Cropped shot of a young man working from home using smart phone and notebook computer, side view of a man's hands using smart phone in interior,man at his coworking place using technology, flare light
Cropped shot of a young man working from home using smart phone and notebook computer, side view of a man's hands using smart phone in interior,man at his coworking place using technology, flare light

Aine Carroll Director of communications and policy with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Query: I am using my Christmas bonus to upgrade my mobile phone. While doing my research and looking at different types of phones, the shops are all trying to sell insurance too. Is gadget insurance a good idea as I am already spending a lot of money on the phone? Tom, Co Westmeath

Answer: If you are paying out a lot of money for a new phone, buying insurance to protect yourself against future problems seems like a smart move. However, it's important to remember that if the phone stops working after you buy it, you have statutory consumer rights - regardless of whether you take out insurance on it. For example, if something you buy turns out to have a fault, you are entitled to a repair, replacement, reduction in the price, or a refund.

Insurance can be quite expensive when compared with the cost of a phone, so there are a few things to think about before you sign up to any policy. If you buy insurance from a shop, the shop assistant may be earning commission from the sale and so it is in their interest to convince you that you need the insurance.

If you are thinking about taking out gadget insurance, either as part of your phone package or a standalone policy, check the excesses and exclusions and weigh up how likely you are to lose or damage the phone and the overall cost of insuring it versus the cost of replacing it.

(Excesses are the first part of a claim you must cover yourself. Exclusions are typically types of damage - or causes of damage - which are not covered by insurance). Shop around and compare quotes.

Most insurance providers have their policy terms and conditions online, or you can call the insurer to get a quote. There are different levels of cover available, but the cost mainly depends on the value of the item you insure.

Before you buy, check whether you have any cover under your home insurance policy, or whether you can buy an add-on to your home insurance - as you might be able to get the phone covered using 'all-risks' cover. This is an optional extra available under most home-insurance policies which protects you against loss of, theft of, or accidental damage to personal belongings both inside and outside of the home.

If considering add-on cover, check with your provider if this policy would cover your phone and ask about any exclusions. Find out if there is an excess to pay on the policy if you make a claim and also, consider the implications on your home insurance premium for next year.

 

No sign of online jacket

Query: I ordered a jacket online for my son but with Christmas only days away, it still hasn't arrived. The company guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas when I bought it. Can I cancel my order even if it hasn't arrived yet and get a full refund? Patsy, Dublin 6

Answer: At this stage, you have probably already contacted the company and found out that the jacket won't be arriving before Christmas. If you bought the jacket from a business based in the EU, you have strong consumer protection rights in these circumstances. In general, if you order from an EU-based business, your order should arrive within 30 days, unless an alternative date was agreed.

In your case, the retailer guaranteed delivery before Christmas and won't meet this obligation - so you have the right to cancel and request a full refund. The retailer should refund you without delay. You will need to fill in a cancellation form which the retailer should send you or have available on its website.

If you bought from a business based outside of the EU, you need to check the website's terms and conditions in relation to cancelling.

If you are having trouble getting a refund, you may be able to request a chargeback from your debit or credit card for non-delivery of goods. Your card provider can explain the process to you, but you can request a chargeback if the goods are not delivered or are faulty and you are unable to get your money back from the business.

Before requesting a chargeback, you should contact the business in writing and ask for a refund as you will need evidence that you tried to get a refund from the business.

 

Black Friday Blues

Query:  I ordered and paid for a TV in the Black Friday sales, but a few days later the company emailed me to say that it had run out of stock of that TV at the sale price. It has refunded my credit card, but won't offer me a similar discount off another TV. Can it do this? Niall, Dublin 8

Answer: The answer to this depends on the retailer's terms and conditions as your legal rights depend on when your contract is formed with the retailer. Usually you have a contract with the retailer either once you've paid for the item, or once the retailer has sent the item to you. So the next step for you is to read the terms and conditions on the retailer's website.

Often the terms and conditions may state that no contract will exist if, for example, the item you ordered is out of stock or if the company identifies a pricing error. The terms and conditions might also say that if you place an order and received an email from the company detailing the order, this is not an order confirmation but simply an acknowledgement of your order. Finally, look for wording which shows when a contract is actually formed. For example, it might say acceptance of your order and completion of the contract between you and the business takes place when your order has been dispatched.

If after you read the terms and conditions, you realise that you don't have a contract in place with the business, the company can cancel your order. There is no harm in sending the business a complaint in writing outlining what happened and asking if it might reconsider and offer you a discount on a future purchase.

 

Exchanging gifts

Query: I am Christmas shopping for my teenage niece and nephew. I want to buy them a present, as I think this is nicer than just giving them cash. If I give my niece and nephew the receipts, will they be able to return their gifts after Christmas if they don't like them? Mary, Sligo

Answer: Buying gifts for teenagers is always a challenge, but don't assume they will be able to return their presents. Under the law, you don't have a legal right to return something just because you don't like it. Shops set their own policies and are not legally required to display their returns policy, even though many will display them in store or on your receipt. However, many established retailers have very customer-friendly policies around returns (especially around Christmas-time) and have extended time frames for returning gifts for an exchange or refund - as long as you have the receipt or a gift receipt.

The most important thing is to ask what the returns policy is before you buy. Also bear in mind that if you buy something before Christmas and it goes on sale later, the retailer might only refund the lower sale purchase price or allow an exchange to the value of the sale price. This isn't prohibited by law so again, ask before you buy.

  • Aine Carroll is director and communications and policy with the CCPC (ccpc.ie)
  • Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to ‘Your Questions, Sunday Independent Business, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1’.

  • While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert for your query, this column is not intended to replace professional advice

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