Saturday 18 November 2017

Your Questions Answered

Do I need insurance to cover rescue dog?

Stock image
Stock image

Aine Carroll, Director of Communications with the CCPC (ccpc.ie)

Q: We have just adopted a rescue dog who has a few minor health problems. When I brought her for her first check-up to the vet, he asked me if I was planning on taking out pet insurance. He showed me a list of some of the fees I would have to pay if the dog needed an operation in the future. We would not be in a position to afford them. Given that the dog already has a few health issues, should I take out pet insurance? Laura, Shillelagh, Co Wicklow

Pet insurance can help cover the cost of your pet's medical treatment if she is sick or seriously injured. It can help to pay for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses - but not more routine treatment. However, having pet insurance can mean you won't have to make a difficult decision if you can't afford your dog's medical treatment.

Before you decide to take out a policy, it is important to get the right cover for your pet. Most policies cover vet fees for illness or injury, care for your pet if you are in hospital, and rewards for lost or stolen pets. Insurers won't cover any pre-existing conditions your pet may have. On most policies, routine treatments such as vaccinations and neutering won't be covered. Flea and worm control and anything related to pregnancy or birth are also excluded. Also, watch out for things like after-hours emergency care which can be very expensive and may not be included in a standard policy.

Another thing to think about is how much pet insurance cover you should get. For instance, you may be unsure whether to get "accident only" cover, which covers accidental injuries such as your pet getting hit by a car, or "lifetime cover", which covers your pet for an illness and/or injury which requires treatment for several years over your pet's lifetime.

Make sure you get the best deal on your pet insurance by getting quotes from a number of insurers online or over the phone. Write down all the details as you go along, so that you can clearly compare what's on offer. Also be aware that you may pay a little extra if you choose to pay monthly by direct debit - instead of paying the yearly fee, as with other types of insurance.

Must I pay builder for error?

Q: I am coming to the end of a very stressful extension project with my builder. There is one outstanding issue I need to get resolved. The builder ordered and installed the wrong patio doors. He is now refusing to correct his mistake unless I pay for the right set of doors and his time to install them. I have paid him in full so I am not sure where to go next. What would you advise? Margaret, Templeogue, Dublin 6W

You have rights when you buy or use a service, but every case is different and the solution to a problem will depend on the specific circumstances. In general, you have the right to expect that the service is provided with proper care and attention; the business providing it has the appropriate skills to do the job; any materials used in the work are sound and fit for their purpose; and any goods which are supplied as part of the service should be of acceptable quality.

If you are unhappy with the work or believe that the builder didn't complete the job as agreed, he is required to fix the problem or give you a full or partial refund of the money paid for the work. In this case, you should make a formal complaint in writing to the builder explaining the issues you are having with the patio doors he installed and what you want him to do to resolve the problem. Further details on how to complain are available on www.ccpc.ie.

It is always best to try to agree a resolution with the builder before taking further steps. If you can't agree a solution, you could consider taking legal action. If the cost of the work was less than €2,000, the Small Claims procedure may be an option for you. 

For larger jobs in particular, it is very important to research any contractor you hire in advance and also to have a clear agreement in writing, including details of their insurance and registration number before they start work. The agreement should describe what they will be supplying and the payment schedule.

Online and in-store price gap

Q: I am looking for a new sofa. I researched my options online and found one I really liked from a well-known retailer. I then went into one of their branches to see the sofa and to my dismay it was €500 more expensive in the shop than if I were to buy it online. Are retailers allowed to charge different prices for the same item in this way? Helen, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Yes - the retailer can charge a difference price online and in-store. There are no price controls for retailers selling products so they can set their own prices for products sold in-store and online. It is also a business decision if a retailer wishes to vary their price online versus in-store as these are considered separate ways of doing business with consumers. So, once the correct price is displayed online (with regard to online sales) and in-store (for in-store sales), the retailer is complying with pricing legislation.

In your case, you will probably make significant savings by buying the sofa online, even if you have to pay a delivery charge. You also have added protections if you buy online. This includes the right to return something within 14 days from when you receive it if you change your mind - as long as what you are buying is not customised or personalised in any way. When you buy online, you can cancel an order for any reason within this time period, even if you just change your mind or don't like the sofa when it arrives.

Student banking options

Q: My son has just started college. He needs to open a bank account and I want him to get into the habit of comparing all his options rather than just choosing the bank that's on his campus. Have you any tips I can pass on to him? Tom, Sligo town

It makes sense for your son to compare all his options before he opens an account. While it can be tempting to go with the bank on-campus, or the one offering the best freebies, the reality is that your son will do most of his banking online. So he should find out how good each bank's online and mobile banking platforms are. Also it might be worth knowing the opening hours of the nearest branch in case he does need to use this service at some stage.

Most banks offer fee-free banking to students, but this doesn't cover overdraft or late payment fees, which can be expensive. If you son will use any of these, he should choose the account with the lowest fees. He can compare student current accounts, credit cards and loans using the student financial product comparisons on the CCPC's website www.ccpc.ie

Once he has chosen an account, he will have to fill out an application form. Under anti-money laundering law, he will need documents to prove his identity (a passport or a National Age Card) and address (his CAO or university letter will suffice if he doesn't have bills in his name). He cannot use the same document to prove both his identity and address.

Opening a student account can also help your son keep track of his spending and budget for any planned or unforeseen costs. This will be important if he is going to be living away from home and is getting an allowance from you - or money from a grant - to pay for his rent and other outgoings.

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