Tuesday 15 October 2019

What rights will I have after Brexit if I buy from the UK?

Your questions answered

'Before you purchase the laptop from the UK, it is very important to read the terms and conditions on the website'
'Before you purchase the laptop from the UK, it is very important to read the terms and conditions on the website'

Aine Carroll

Q I am considering buying a new laptop and the one I have my eye on is quite expensive. I have seen it available for a lower price on a UK website but I am worried that if I wait to I buy it, and it is faulty, what rights will I have if Brexit happens? Deirdre, Co Westmeath

The outcome of Brexit, and the form it will take, is still unclear but generally you can assume that European consumer protection law will not apply in the UK after Brexit occurs.

This means, for example that if you buy something from a UK-based business and the product develops a fault, or it is not delivered, after Brexit, you may not have access to redress using the European Consumer Centre or the European Small Claims Procedure. So, if you purchase the laptop and it is not delivered or it develops a fault, your only redress would be to make a complaint to the UK-based business and pursue legal actions through the courts.

Either way, before you purchase the laptop from the UK, it is very important to read the terms and conditions on the website, and ask the following questions. First, can you change your mind about an order if you want to return it? Second, can you cancel an order before it is dispatched? Third, do you have the right to return the item and if you can return an item, who pays for the cost of returning it - you or the business?

While buying the laptop may be cheaper from a UK trader, don't forget that after Brexit, a non-EU Vat rate of €22 or more (plus shipping) could be added to your overall cost. As the laptop is likely to cost more than €150, import charges such as customs or excise duties may also apply, so you could end up paying more overall than you expect.

Car import checks

Q We have decided to buy a new car and have seen a great deal on a car that was imported by an Irish garage. We don't want to waste time and risk losing out, how can we quickly check that the car is as good as it seems?
Joe, Co Meath

A car is a big purchase - not only financially but also from a safety perspective and therefore it isn't something that should be rushed into just to get a good deal. Don't forget that there are other factors to consider such as the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and a potential increase in Vat post-Brexit. You will also have to inform your insurer that the car has been imported.

If you still want to proceed, there are a number of checks you should do and questions that you should ask before you buy. The garage selling you the car is legally obliged to give you all relevant information about the car and it must be accurate. However, you still should independently check the car's history to verify the mileage, find out if it has been crashed, and check the service history.

The first information you should ask for is the vehicle's UK registration number. You can then check the MOT history of the car through the UK's Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency's site. It is also worth asking for the V5C, as this document will contain all the essential information about the car, such as the date it was first registered, its manufacturer, and the colour and engine size. It also shows who the vehicle's registered keeper is. This document also has the chassis number. Take it down and match it to the chassis number on the car.

If you are satisfied with the history of the car, then be sure to question the seller at the garage. Consider asking questions such as: is the mileage accurate, has the car been clocked, is there any outstanding finance on the car and so on. As the car has been imported, you need to ask for a copy of the Vehicle Registration Certificate.

Then do a physical check on the condition of the car and for complete peace of mind you should get the car independently checked by a mechanic.

Mobile phone contract

Q I recently signed up to a new mobile phone provider online but when I got the contract in the post, there were a lot of restrictions on data usage that I wasn't expecting. Can I cancel my contract?
Sean, Co Galway

If you sign up for a mobile phone provider online or over the phone, there are additional consumer protections in place as you are entering into a distance contract (where you and the trader were not physically in each other's company at the time the contract was agreed).

One of these extra protections is 14 days to change your mind. In the case of a contract for a service, the cooling-off period ends 14 days after the contract starts. Before the end of the 14 days, you can cancel the order and request a refund without giving any reason. If you received a handset from the mobile phone provider, you must return it to them. Be aware that you will have to pay for any delivery costs.

Your next step should be to write to the mobile phone provider stating you want to cancel your contract. There is a template cancellation letter available on our website, ccpc.ie. Keep all records and when you send your letter, retain a certificate of postage. You can cancel by email and if you do so, retain a copy for your record as if an issue arises, the onus is on you to prove that you contacted the company to cancel your contract within the 14 day cooling-off period.

In addition, you should have been provided with access to information on any usage allowance or restrictions before signing the contract. Information on usage policies is usually made available on the terms and conditions section of the provider's website.

If you are outside the 14-day cooling off period and you believe the mobile phone provider did not provide you with access to this information, or the trader has breached their contract, you may be in a position to renegotiate your contract terms or exit the contract.

Baby finances

Q I am expecting a baby and am worried about the ever growing costs I am facing. How can I get everything I need without overspending?
Emma, Dublin City

The best place to start is with a money makeover to help you get ready for your baby's arrival. Reviewing your finances will give you a clear picture of your financial situation. You should include all your income and outgoings no matter how big or small to get a realistic idea of your financial situation. This will help you work out how much money you can afford to spend before your baby arrives.

If you feel that your budget is tight, think about making changes to your spending. Saving might not be as easy once your baby arrives, so try and save as much as you can afford to beforehand to pay for these items. You should also consider trying to pay off as much debt as you can, such as overdrafts and credit cards, so that you are in a better position for the arrival of your baby.

Finally, it's a good idea to build up an emergency fund to cope with unexpected expenses such as GP bills.

 

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

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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