Wednesday 21 February 2018

Your Questions: Could I lose the car I paid full price for, since the previous owner still owes money on it?

If the previous owner failed to make all repayments, he was not entitled to sell on the car. So legally, the car belongs to the financial institution which arranged the car finance and it is within its rights to look for the outstanding repayments (Stock picture)
If the previous owner failed to make all repayments, he was not entitled to sell on the car. So legally, the car belongs to the financial institution which arranged the car finance and it is within its rights to look for the outstanding repayments (Stock picture)

Fergal O'Leary

Last year, I bought a nearly-new car from my local garage. But last week I received a letter from a financial institution claiming that it is the legal owner of the car.

It is threatening to seize the car due to me not continuing with the outstanding monthly repayments that are owed on it.

I paid the garage in full for the car - so how can the financial institution claim to be the legal owner?

If I don't pay the outstanding finance, will I lose the car?

Claire, Glasnevin, Dublin 9

It appears that you have bought a car which has outstanding finance owed on it. This could have happened if the previous owner bought the car using a hire-purchase agreement or a personal contract plan - and then didn't make all the repayments due on it.

The big difference between these type of agreements and, for example, a personal loan, is that the previous owner wouldn't have owned the car until he made the final repayment. Only at that time would the ownership of the car have passed to him.

If the previous owner failed to make all repayments, he was not entitled to sell on the car. So legally, the car belongs to the financial institution which arranged the car finance and it is within its rights to look for the outstanding repayments that are due on the car and to take possession of the car if it is not paid.

At this stage, you should contact the garage that sold you the car. Show the salesperson the contact you have received from the financial institution.

Ask what checks they did to see if there was any outstanding finance on the car before the garage bought it.

There are organisations which keep records to show if a car is under an existing finance agreement. You should also notify the financial institution who contacted you and tell it that you bought the car from a garage and paid for it in full.

Finally if the garage is unwilling to resolve the issue, you may need to seek legal advice on your options.

My father has recently suffered a stroke. As a result, we are now having to look at getting him a place in a nursing home.

There is so much to think about that I am concerned I am going to overlook something important. What things should I prioritise?

Gemma, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow

All nursing homes in Ireland - whether public, voluntary or private - are registered and inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority - better known as HIQA.

HIQA has a very useful checklist on its website - - for choosing a nursing home. It has also has a tool to help you locate a nursing home in your area. As well as using the checklist, it is worth visiting each nursing home you are considering. This will enable you to get a feel for the place and meet the people who may be caring for your father.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (also known as Fair Deal) provides financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care.

Under Fair Deal, the elderly resident makes a contribution towards the cost of their care and the State pays the balance. The scheme covers approved private nursing homes, voluntary nursing homes and public nursing homes.

Before your father goes into a nursing home, a contract of care will be agreed between him - or a family member acting on his behalf - and the nursing home. This sets out the terms and conditions of his care and must include details of the services to be provided and the fees to be paid.

This is an important document and all aspects of it should be carefully considered before it is signed.

You should also discuss with your father how best to manage his finances. Will he need another person to be able to access his accounts, if he is unable to do so?

If so, it's important that this person is trustworthy. As an added precaution, your father could consider putting limits in place in terms of when, how and how much that person can withdraw from his account.

I recently spent a few hundred euro buying tickets for a concert that was sold out. When I went to use the tickets, I found out they were counterfeit.

When I approached the auction site where I had bought the tickets, it said it was a case of "buyer beware" and it was my responsibility to ensure the tickets were real. Have I any chance of getting my money back?

Joe, Newbridge, Co Kildare

If you are buying tickets from a private individual through an online auction site, you don't have consumer rights because you are not buying from a business. The auction sites usually say that they take no responsibility for the quality of the items for sale - or the accuracy of the listings.

You are more vulnerable to scams such as counterfeit tickets when you buy tickets in this way. Another issue is that some private-seller websites will take your money - and then try to source the ticket. So before handing over any money, it is always worth asking the seller to prove to you that he has a ticket to sell.

Your next step should be to contact the seller directly, explain what has happened, and check if he is willing to offer you a refund.

If he cannot provide an explanation or refund, there is little else you can do in terms of getting your money back, but you should post a review of your experience with him on the auction site as a warning to other consumers.

My daughter will be having her debs next month and I had ordered a beautiful dress for her from a Chinese website.

I placed the order over a month ago but it has still not arrived. I have tried cancelling the order and contacting the company but I have not been able to get in touch. What can I do?

Kay, Inchicore, Dublin 8

Since June 2014, when the EU Consumer Rights Directive came into effect in Ireland, consumers have stronger rights when shopping online. However, these rights only apply if you buy from a website that is based in the EU.

In your case, you bought from a website based in China, so you need to check the terms and conditions (if there are any) on the website you bought from.

If you paid for the dress using a secure method of payment, such as a credit card, you may be able to request a chargeback. The rules for this vary, depending on your card provider, but can include getting your money back if the goods are not delivered or are faulty and you are unable to get your money back from the trader. Before you request a chargeback, you should contact the trader and ask for a refund.

Remember that if you are buying from outside the EU, you will have to pay customs charges and VAT - on top of the advertised price.

When shopping online, try to buy from reputable websites or ones with positive user feedback. Check if any of your friends have used the site and check discussion forums. And always make sure to read the terms and conditions before you buy.

Email your questions to or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.

While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

Director of Communications and Market Insight, Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Sunday Indo Business

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