Business Personal Finance

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Will I get deposit back after kitchen company went bust?

Your questions answered

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Aine Carroll, Director of communications and policy with 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.

Q: I picked out a new kitchen from a company in January and paid a 50pc deposit. I rang the company last week - only to find that it has gone out of business. Do I have any chance of getting my deposit back? Monica, Co Meath

First, you need to find out if the business has closed down completely or if it has gone into liquidation. The Companies Registration Office (cro.ie) may be able to give you information such as the liquidator's details (if the company has gone into liquidation), whether or not the business was a subsidiary of a larger company, and details of any parent company - or a possible substitute company. If a liquidator has been appointed to look after the affairs of the business, you can contact it to find out about lodging a claim.

When a company goes out of business, it can owe individuals and organisations money. There are several ways to try to get your money back. However, there are no guarantees. If the business is in liquidation, you will be treated as an 'unsecured' creditor. However, as an unsecured creditor, you rank behind secured creditors - such as the Revenue Commissioners, employees who are owed wages, and banks that are owed money. This means that others, such as banks, will get paid first - so you might not get anything.

If you paid by credit or debit card, you have the option of a chargeback - which means you can look for your money back from your card provider if the item or service is not delivered. In your case, this is the kitchen you paid the deposit for. Your card provider can explain the process under the terms of the card scheme rules.

Custom-made ring

Q: I got engaged on Valentine's Day and my fiance had a ring custom-made for me. I really don't like it. I haven't said anything to him yet as I want to know what my options are before I tell him I want to change the ring. Do I have any rights to look for a refund or a replacement ring from the jeweller given my fiance spent a good deal of money on it? Joanna, Co Kildare

In your circumstances, as there is no fault with the ring that your fiancé bought, the jeweller is within its rights to treat your request as a change of mind. So, you don't have any rights under consumer law to get an automatic refund or replacement. In this situation, you are very much dependent on the goodwill of the jeweller.

Some jewellers, as part of their store policy, may be happy to exchange or refund items - provided you have proof of purchase and meet the terms and conditions of their returns policy. However, jewellers do not legally have to do this.

Considering the short time that has passed since your fiance bought the ring, it may be worthwhile visiting the jewellers and asking to speak to the manager. Explain your situation and see if it has any solution to offer. It may be willing to offer you a replacement or refund, but this would be very much at its discretion. You could also ask about getting the ring altered.

Hiring financial adviser

Q: My finances are a mess. My girlfriend and I now want to clean up our act and start saving for a deposit for a house. A colleague in work has recommended a visit to a financial adviser to get us started. Is this a good idea? John, Dublin 2

Many of us develop financial habits which we need to change if we want to save more, or in your case, to buy a home. Getting financial advice from a professional can help you to identify the changes you need to make to turn your goal into a reality.

Before choosing an adviser, be clear why you want to get financial advice and the type of advice you want. There are many different terms used to describe the status of financial advisers and the products they offer advice on. Some advisers are 'independent', meaning they offer advice on all financial products across the market, while others offer a 'restricted' service - meaning they only offer advice on financial products from a limited number of financial providers (such as certain banks or insurance companies).

Check if the financial adviser is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland on its Registers website (registers.centralbank.ie). If a financial adviser is not authorised and things go wrong, you won't have access to compensation schemes such as the Deposit Guarantee Scheme and the Investor Compensation Scheme. This means you could potentially lose all of your money. Find out if the financial adviser has a recognised professional qualification to give financial advice. The most widely recognised qualification in Ireland is the Qualified Financial Adviser (QFA). Ask the financial adviser if it has experience advising others in similar situations to yours.

Next, compare fees. Financial advisers generally get paid by commission - where they are paid a fee or a bonus from the financial service provider whose products they sell. Or they may charge a fee for providing their services. Sometimes the adviser gets paid through a combination of commission and client fees. The charges can vary depending on the type of advice you are getting. Your financial adviser should provide you with a document listing all charges in a way that is easy for you to understand.

Faulty lamp

Q: I bought a lamp from an Irish website two months ago. It has since blown three bulbs. I contacted the retailer and it said that too much time had passed and that the lamp could have been damaged since delivery so it is not obliged to fix it nor am I entitled to a refund or replacement. Is this true? Gary, Co Louth

When you buy a product, it should be of an acceptable standard and fit for purpose. If you buy something which doesn't reach these standards, you have a right to a repair, replacement or a refund. The law doesn't specify exactly which solution you are entitled to so it us up to you to come to an agreement with the retailer. The best course of action for you now is to put your complaint in writing. Say that as you have bought something that is faulty, you are entitled to have the issue fixed and set out what your preferred remedy is.

If the retailer offers to fix the lamp or replace it, it should cover the cost of returning the product and any repairs should be free of charge and undertaken efficiently. If the problem occurs again, you are entitled to ask for a refund. Finally, if you are not happy with the solution the shop offers, you may wish to consider the Small Claims procedure.

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

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