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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.
Question: Our daughter recently passed her driving test and is looking at buying a decent second-hand car. We've been hearing a lot about the savings to be made by buying from a UK car dealership and importing it into Ireland, which is certainly appealing, as she has a limited budget. Given that the UK is no longer part of the EU, do you have any advice on where to start and the best way to approach this to ensure we are protected should something go wrong? Tom, Co Meath
Answer: Buying a car, even a second-hand one, can be a big expense. The most important thing to be aware of when buying a car, is the difference in rights and protections you have when buying from a dealership versus a private seller. You have rights under consumer law if you buy a used car from a dealer. The car should be fit for purpose, roadworthy and of reasonable, acceptable quality (relative to the age, cost and history of the car). It should also match the description of the car given verbally, in an advert or on a website.
However, if you buy a car from a private seller, there are no consumer rights or protections available to you because the person selling the car is not a registered trader - that is, you are buying from another consumer. Therefore, you should always get the car independently checked by a mechanic if buying from a private seller - as you will have very limited options if something goes wrong later on.
The UK is no longer part of the EU - and so EU consumer protection law will no longer automatically apply to goods bought from UK-based businesses. This is especially important to bear in mind when making an important and expensive purchase such as a car - when you want to feel confident that you can follow up easily in case of any after-sales issues. Without access to EU consumer rights supports, you may find it more difficult to get issues resolved with the car in the future.
It's also important to be aware of additional taxes and charges that may apply when buying a vehicle from a UK-based business. Irish VAT charges apply to many purchases from the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) but you should not have to pay UK VAT.
You also need to check if customs charges will apply to your purchase. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the Brexit Trade Deal) means that customs charges generally do not apply to goods that are made in the UK - however if the car that you are buying was manufactured outside of the UK, you may be liable for customs duty.
Revenue recently confirmed that in accordance with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, vehicles of EU origin being imported from Great Britain are subject to customs duty. As the importer of the car, you must be able to prove the vehicle's origin in order to avail of any customs charge exemption. For full details, visit revenue.ie for the Revenue Commissioner's updated guidance on the implications of importing cars from both the UK and Northern Ireland from January 1, 2021.
There are a number of important steps to take if you decide to proceed and buy a car from the UK.
First, do a complete history check online - this will show if there is outstanding finance on the car. It will also indicate if it has ever been involved in an accident, was an insurance write off, if it has had one or more change of plates, and the mileage of the car. You can check the car's MOT history through the UK's Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency's website (gov.uk/check-mot-history) using the registration number. (The MOT is the UK's equivalent of the NCT). For complete peace of mind, get the vehicle independently checked by a mechanic.
Second, check the cancellation and returns policy. When buying goods online from a business based outside the EU, (which now includes the UK), it's particularly important to read the terms and conditions on its website and to check its cancellation and returns policy, so that you are aware of what you are entitled to if something should go wrong in the future.
Third, check for additional taxes or charges - such as import taxes, VAT or customs charges upon delivery. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on the business's website before you buy because unless stated otherwise, you will need to factor in these additional charges into the overall cost of buying the car. You can find out more details about these charges from revenue.ie and gov.ie. It's important to be aware that you may also be liable for Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) when the car is first registered - which must be done within the first 30 days of the car arriving in Ireland. The amount of VRT will depend on the type of vehicle that is registered and is made up of the price of the vehicle as well as all relevant taxes and duties. Be sure to check out revenue.ie for a complete guide to VRT. Regardless of who or where you buy a car from, CCPC's car buyer's checklist (available on ccpc.ie) has a list of important questions to ask the seller.
Question: We ordered a dishwasher in-store for delivery and the delivery charge was €25. Shortly after the dishwasher was delivered and installed, one of the dish racks came loose. We contacted the retailer that we bought the dishwasher from to complain and ask for a replacement. It suggested we contact the manufacturer directly and said that if we want a replacement, we will need to pay an additional fee to take away the faulty dishwasher and deliver a new one. Are we not entitled to a replacement by the retailer? Can we refuse to pay the additional removal and delivery charge? Derek, Co Louth
Answer: When you buy goods, your contract is with the retailer or business that sold you the item - so if there is a fault, it is up to it to fix it and not the manufacturer. In all cases, you should act quickly.
You can ask for a refund, repair, replacement or reduction in price as a solution. However, the law doesn't set out exactly what you are entitled to when you return a faulty item - so it is up to you to negotiate with the business and agree the best option for you. However, if the fault is a major fault (that is, one where the item does not work as it is supposed to) and occurs within the first six months, it is assumed that the fault was there at the time of sale and so you have the option to reject the goods and end the contract.
When goods develop a fault which is not down to wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage, a consumer should not have to pay for the cost of its repairs, replacement or for returning the product.
If you can't resolve the issue with the business, you have the option of making a claim against the business through the Small Claims procedure. The application fee is €25 and you can use it for claims worth up to €2,000.
Another option is to try and have your bank reverse the transaction - if you paid by debit or credit card. This is called a chargeback. You will need to show evidence that you tried to resolve the issue directly with the business first.
Sunday Indo Business