ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES.doc

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ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES.doc

  1. 1. ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Environmental Operations - Trading Standards Service- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Question: "I paid a £50 deposit on furniture, but changed my mind later. The shop won't give me my money back. Can they do this?" Response: When you place an order and pay a deposit, you enter into a contract. The shop takes a deposit as security and proof of your good intentions. If you break the deal, then you will probably lose the deposit as a penalty. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I bought a computer yesterday and I think it is faulty. I have stopped the cheque but the shop manager is now threatening to take me to court. What are my rights?" Response: Generally, it is very risky to stop a cheque. This is because a cheque is legally an agreement to pay, and by breaking that agreement, the shop may have a valid legal claim against you, even though you might have been supplied faulty goods. It is better to complain to the shop promptly, and they might agree to cancel the cheque for you, or give you a refund or replacement. Remember, paying by credit card for goods over £100 gives you additional rights if things go wrong. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I was in a rush the other day and signed an agreement for a mobile phone. However, I have now looked at the terms and they seem rather restrictive, not even allowing me to complain if the phone is faulty. Am I bound by this deal?" Response: The general rule of thumb is that you are bound by a contract if you put your signature to it, so NEVER sign one without reading it first, however tedious that might seem. There are some legal protections against unfair or restrictive contract terms that you can fall back on, though. Firstly, no contract can take away your automatic statutory rights, that is for example your right to compensation for faulty goods under the Sale of Goods Act, and it is illegal for the supplier to restrict liability in the event of death or personal injury. Also, other terms must be fair and reasonable, unambiguously worded, clear and easy for the average person to read. If in doubt about a contract, don't sign it, take a copy away, and get some advice. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 1
  2. 2. Question: "I ordered furniture and was told that delivery would be within 6-8 weeks - that was 9 weeks ago. Can I now cancel the order and have my money back?" Response: Generally, there is no legal requirement that goods are delivered within a particular time. All that the law says is that goods should be delivered within a 'reasonable time' which is a matter of debate. If necessary, you should consider setting a firm date for delivery, and incorporate this into the contract. Ideally, you should make sure that a specific delivery date is written down on the order form. This is called 'making time of the essence in the contract'. Although you probably cannot cancel at the moment, you can impose a reasonable time limit now, by writing to the shop and setting a final date for delivery. If the furniture still doesn't come, you could cancel it and have a refund. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I was given a sweater at Christmas that is faulty. Can I take it back to the shop for a refund?" Response: Usually, if you haven't bought the goods yourself, then you don't have a contract with the shop, and therefore, no rights. However, the law has recently changed to allow so-called third parties to have rights if things go wrong. The buyer of the goods needs to have identified you as being the recipient at the time they were bought, so you should check with them, or look to see if they have written your name on any accompanying receipts, invoices or guarantee cards. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I have been sent books in the post that I haven't ordered, and the company is demanding payment. Do I have to pay?" Response: No. The Distance Selling Regulations 2000 says that if you are sent unsolicited goods (in other words, goods that you didn't order, or ask for) they become your property and you can treat them as a gift. You can keep them, give them away, or sell them, whatever you prefer. If the company presses for payment then report them to your local Trading Standards Department. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 2
  3. 3. Question: "I have just purchased a product that is faulty. Is it the manufacturers responsibility to rectify any faults?" Response: No! The manufacturer does not have any liability to the consumer. The seller of the product always has liability for the goods they sell. However, the manufacturer may be willing to carry out repairs which are covered by their guarantee. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I have just purchased some goods which are defective. The trader will only offer me a credit note, or an exchange. Is he right?" Response: No! If the goods are defective, The Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended by The Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 entitles you to expect "reasonable" financial compensation. If you have just purchased the goods, you may be entitled to "reject" them and have your money back. If you purchased the goods some time ago, a repair or replacement may be reasonable. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I have just purchased something that I do not want anymore. Does the shop have to give me a refund?" Response: No! You are only entitled to a refund if the goods don’t comply with the law, for example if they are defective. However, the trader may be willing to give you a credit note. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I have accepted a credit note from a trader, but they do not have anything that I like. Can I now demand that the trader gives me the cash?" Response: No! You are not entitled to a refund once you have accepted a credit note. Also, beware that if you do not use the credit note before its time limit expires , it will become worthless. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 3
  4. 4. Question: "I took some faulty goods back to the shop, but the trader pointed to a notice which stated " No Refunds". Is this correct?" Response: No! Traders cannot restrict their liability for faulty goods. In fact these notices are illegal. Report it to your local Trading Standards Service. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I purchased goods over a year ago and the guarantee has now expired. The trader has advised me that he does not have any responsibility for the goods. Is he right?" Response: No! Guarantees are extra to your legal rights. If the goods are faulty due to an inherent fault, it is the trader’s responsibility to rectify the situation. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I went to a "sale" and purchased some goods that are now faulty. The trader will not accept any liability as they were sale items. Is he right?" Response: No! You have the same rights when buying "sale" goods as when you buy a brand new item. However, if the price has been reduced because the item was damaged, you cannot complain about the damage. Even though you also have the same rights when buying second hand goods, you will have to accept that the item may not be as reliable as a new model. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I have purchased some faulty goods, but unfortunately I have lost the receipt. The trader says that because I do not have a receipt, I do not have any rights. Is he right?" Response: No! Strictly speaking, you do not have to produce a receipt in order to pursue a claim for faulty goods. However, under the law, you are required to produce proof of the purchase. Therefore, if you paid by cash, a receipt may be the only proof that you have. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 4
  5. 5. Question: "I purchased some clothes which I have now found do not fit me. The trader will not take them back and give me a refund. Is he correct?" Response: Yes! You only have a claim against the seller if the goods are faulty or misdescribed. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I have purchased a camera that is faulty. The trader is unable to find out what the fault is and wants to send the camera back to the manufacturer. Can he do this?" Response: Yes! Although the trader is liable under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act, if the trader is unable to ascertain the cause of the defect, it would be reasonable to seek a second opinion from the manufacturer. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I purchased an ex display washing machine which had a damaged casing. The trader will not take the machine back. Is he right?" Response: Yes! You cannot complain about faults that you knew about before you purchased the goods. However, apart from the known faults, the machine is still required to be of a "satisfactory" quality and work properly. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I want to purchase a three piece suite that is on display in a shop. The shop refused to sell it to me. Does a shop have the right to refuse to sell goods?" Response: Yes! Goods on display in a shop are there for you to make an offer to buy, the shop is not obliged to accept your offer. The same applies where goods have been labelled with the wrong price, the shop does not have to sell at that price. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 5
  6. 6. Question: "I was given a present which has developed a fault. The trader will not accept liability even though the goods were purchased from him. Can he refuse to deal with me?" Response: Yes! Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act, only the person who purchased the goods has a right to seek redress for faulty goods. However, a lot of companies will be willing to try and resolve complaints. Recent legislation gives you rights if the goods were specifically bought for you and the seller knew they were for you. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I ordered goods for delivery by a specific date. The goods have not yet been delivered but the trader will not accept cancellation of the order. Am I right in thinking that I am entitled to cancel?" Response: Yes! But only if it you specifically made it a condition of the contract that the goods must be delivered by that date. If you did, and the date has passed, you are entitled to cancel without any financial penalty. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: "I allowed a salesperson into my home and subsequently signed a contract. Can I cancel the contract?" Response: Yes! If the contract was signed as the result of an 'unsolicited' visit and is over £35, you have a seven day period during which you can cancel without any financial penalty. You have to be given a cancellation notice and the trader can be prosecuted by Trading Standards if the salesperson fails to provide the notice. You also have cancellation rights if you sign a credit agreement in your home where the salesperson introduced you to a finance company. The law allows you a cancellation period of five days which begins on the receipt of a signed copy from the finance company. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 6
  7. 7. Question: Can I always insist on a refund? Response: No. You cannot insist on a refund or replacement if: The retailer tells you about a fault or if a defect is obvious when you buy. You have made a mistake about a purchase or simply changed your mind. If you have had a reasonable opportunity to check the goods and used them you may not be entitled to a refund, but you may still ask for a repair if the goods are faulty. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: Do I need proof of purchase to complain about goods? Response: Yes. Some proof of purchase is essential. This does not have to be a receipt. A cheque stub, credit card slip or bank statement may be enough. However, it is always worth keeping your receipt during the lifetime of the goods in case problems occur. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: How are my rights different if I buy on credit rather than paying cash? Response: When you buy on credit you can ask the credit company for help when there is a problem providing the goods cost more than £100 and you used a credit card or the retailer arranged credit for you. The law makes the credit company jointly liable for faulty goods. That means if the retailer or service provider is unhelpful you may be able to ask the credit company for assistance. Contact Name: Contact Ext No: Question: I am paying for goods by instalments. Can I stop paying my direct debit until my problem is resolved? Response: You may cause yourself more problems if you stop paying. This could be seen as default and ultimately affect your credit rating. Ask the credit company to suspend your payments. Remember you can ask them to help you to resolve your complaint because they are jointly liable. Contact Name: Contact Ext No: /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 7
  8. 8. Question: I am paying for goods by instalments. Can I stop paying my direct debit until my problem is resolved? Response: You may cause yourself more problems if you stop paying. This could be seen as default and ultimately affect your credit rating. Ask the credit company to suspend your payments. Remember you can ask them to help you to resolve your complaint because they are jointly liable. Contact Name: Contact Ext No: Question: I purchased goods through a private individual. Is the law the same? Response: No. The law is not the same when you buy from a private individual and you may have fewer rights. In private sales, it is only the description of the goods that counts or what the seller tells you about the goods. Remember - buyer beware. Contact Name: Contact Ext No: Question: What if the goods are second-hand? Response: The Sale of Goods Act covers both new and second-hand goods. They must still be of a satisfactory quality, fit for their purpose and as described. However, the older the goods are, the more wear and tear you must expect. They may not be perfect but they should still work. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177: Question: What if I bought the goods in a sale? Response: The Sale of Goods Act covers sale goods. Your rights are exactly the same unless the fault is brought to your attention at the time of purchase. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 8
  9. 9. Question: I purchased goods from a mail order company. Is the law the same? Response: Yes. Your legal contract is with the mail order company as the retailer and any claim should be directed to them. You also have added protection under the Distance Selling Regulations. The company must provide their name, address and all details of the product, they must make your right to cancel quite clear and confirm your order in writing. You have seven days to withdraw. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: What if goods don't arrive? Response: The Advertising Standards Authority (020 7580 5555) may be able to help with delays. The Mail Order Traders Association (01704 563787) may be able to help with catalogue companies If the goods have been ordered from an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine write to the manager of the publication. If you paid in advance and the supplier has ceased trading you may be protected if the company belongs to the Mail Order Protection Scheme (MOPS) for newspapers or the Periodicals Publishers Association (PPA) for magazines. You need to contact them quickly as time limits can apply. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: The retailer wants to return the goods to the manufacturer for inspection. Can they do this? Response: Yes. If you cannot prove what the fault is this is a reasonable response. The retailer is still responsible if the goods are faulty but they may want to get them checked. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 9
  10. 10. Question: My phone is faulty and the retailer has arranged to repair it but cannot lend me a phone to use in the meantime. I am paying line rental but haven't got a phone to use. Can I claim compensation? Response: Yes. If your phone is defective then you have a claim against the retailer. If you are paying line rental to a separate company for a phone you have no use of you may be able to claim compensation from the retailer. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 : Question: I asked a garage to diagnose a fault in my car, but repairs have been carried out without authorisation! Response: This can be a difficult matter, especially if the contract was only verbal, as it can be very difficult to 'prove' that the garage had carried out the work without your authority. It will generally come down to 'proving' your word against the word of the garage. If the garage has carried out unauthorised work, you could require them to 'undo' the work and put the vehicle back in its original condition, however, this course of action can also create legal problems, especially if it would make the vehicle unroadworthy . The trader may also refuse to undo the work or release the vehicle without payment. If improvements have been made, the garage is entitled to exercise a lien over the car, this is a legal right to hold disputed goods until payment is made. In these circumstances, the only way you can recover possession of the car is to 'pay under protest' and to then pursue your claim for reimbursement against the garage through arbitration (trade association) or the courts. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: The garage doesn't accept liability! Response: Put your complaint in writing, giving the garage a specific date to rectify the fault. [See leaflet 'Writing a letter of complaint'] You may need to obtain a written report, from an independent engineer, [ e.g. AA or RAC ] to provide technical evidence to back your claim. If the trader does not respond to your letter, you may now have to have any defects rectified by another garage. [ It is only fair to advise the owner of the second garage that the repair is the subject of a dispute.] You will have to pay for the repair and then claim the repair costs back, if necessary, through arbitration (trade association) or the courts. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 10
  11. 11. Question: The cost of repairs is higher than I expected Response: If you are in dispute and refuse to pay the price the garage is charging, the garage is entitled to exercise a lien over the car. That is a legal right to hold the disputed goods until payment is made. In these circumstances, the only way you can recover possession of the car is to 'pay under protest' and to then pursue your claim for reimbursement against the garage through arbitration (trade association) or the courts. You will need to advise the garage in writing that you are not accepting the price and are paying purely to get the car back, and giving them a specified period in which to reimburse the disputed amount. You may ultimately have to pursue your claim through arbitration (trade association) or the courts. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 11
  12. 12. Question: The vehicle was damaged at the garage while it was in for repair. Response: The garage has a general duty of care to look after your vehicle while it is in their possession, therefore if the vehicle is damaged at the garage, the cost of any repairs will be the garage's liability. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: 'I've signed a credit agreement and I’ve been given a copy of the fully completed form. Can I cancel or withdraw?' Response: Legally, once the agreement document has been completed, you are not entitled to withdraw or cancel. If you want to end the agreement, contact the creditor and ask about the procedures for ending the agreement. You may have to pay cancellation charges or other administrative costs as well as the full loan back to the creditor. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: 'I've got a loan, but now I’ve come into some money. Can I pay the loan off early?' Response: Yes, the law calls this 'early settlement'. By paying off the loan early you will be entitled to a rebate of some of the outstanding interest. See our leaflet 'Early Settlement Explained' for more details. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: 'I've got cancellation rights on my agreement but the company is refusing to let me cancel - what can I do?' Response: If you are having difficulty cancelling a credit agreement or are unsure as to your rights, contact your local Trading Standards Department or Citizens Advice Bureaux for advice as soon as possible. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 12
  13. 13. Question: I have seen a CD player on sale in a shop that I want to buy. However, when I tried to buy it the manager told me it was the wrong price. Can I make the shop sell it to me at the displayed price? Response: No. You cannot make a trader sell anything to you if they don’t want to. In civil law, when goods are displayed in a shop, a catalogue or an advertisement, this is called an ‘invitation to treat’. This means that it is an invitation for the consumer to make an offer to the shop to buy the goods, and it is up to the shop whether or not they want to accept that offer. However, subject to certain defences, the shop might have committed a criminal offence. This is because the Consumer Protection Act 1987 says that traders must not display misleading prices. You should report this to us at Trading Standards so that we can consider investigating the matter. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I ordered a PC by phone recently, and paid for it in full by credit card. However, I have just heard that the company has gone bust, so I have lost nearly £1,000 and I haven’t got any goods. Can I do anything? Response: Firstly, you should try to find out whether any receivers or administrators have been appointed so that you can register as a ‘creditor’ of the company. You can often find this information out by contacting the official receiver (listed in the phone directory). An important protection is also available because you have used your credit card. When you buy goods which are individually worth £100 or more, and pay by credit card (NOT a debit or charge card) the law says that the credit card company becomes ‘equally liable’ with the retailer for breaches of contract. This right is given to you under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. So, as non-delivery of goods is a fundamental breach of contract, you should be able to get your money back from the credit card company. You should put your complaint in writing to them, giving them as much information about the order as you can, and asking them to refund your money in full. They may need a bit of time to investigate the matter, and to check on what has happened to the retailer, but in time, you should get all of your money back. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 13
  14. 14. Question: I bought a jacket for my daughter the other day, but when she tried it on she didn’t like it. I thought I was entitled to have my money back, but the shop has said no, and will only exchange it or give me a credit note. Are they allowed to do this? Response: Yes. The law only requires a shop to take goods back and refund if they are in breach of contract, in other words if the goods are faulty or incorrectly described. If you have made the wrong choice, then they don’t have to do anything, not even offer a credit note or exchange, so what they have offered is more than they have to. Of course, many shops have very generous policies and allow you to bring back unwanted goods, but crucially, they don’t have to. If in doubt, check with the company before you buy, and if necessary get them to write on your receipt if they agree to offer a refund. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I bought a pram last week, and the chassis has become bent and twisted in use. I have taken it back to the shop and would rather have my money back, but they have refused to do this, saying that I have to let them repair it. Is this true? Response: No! The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says that you are entitled to expect the pram to be of a ‘satisfactory quality’ - in other words, it should not be faulty, it should be fit for its normal purpose, durable, and safe, amongst other things. If this is not the case, then, providing you act quickly, you should be able to reject the pram and have your money back. You are not obliged to let the retailer carry out a repair, particularly so soon after purchase. Incidentally, Trading Standards enforces various pieces of law concerning the general safety of goods. If you feel there is a safety issue with this pram (or any other goods you have bought) you should report the matter for us to consider investigating. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 14
  15. 15. Question: The manufacturer’s guarantee has just expired on my dishwasher, and it has gone wrong. Does this mean that I don’t have any rights? Response: No! When you buy goods, you enter into a contract with the shop or retailer, and your legal rights for contractual problems are with them, not the manufacturer. Most manufacturers offer a guarantee, usually for 12 months, but this is in addition to your legal rights against the seller. Your rights lie against the seller under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) and entitle you to complain if goods are faulty or misdescribed. The seller can potentially be held liable for up to 6 years, so if there is a problem with the goods you should always go back to the shop you bought it from. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: Eighteen months ago, I bought an expensive carpet for the living room, but already it is wearing very badly. The shop has refused to do anything, arguing that it is normal wear, and that the 12 months guarantee has expired. What can I do? Response: When you buy goods from a shop, you enter into a contract with them which is regulated by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended). This Act gives you rights against the trader for up to 6 years, so the fact that the manufacturer’s guarantee has expired is irrelevant. Your basic rights under the Act are that you should be able to expect the carpet to be of a ‘satisfactory quality’. This means it should be fit for its normal purpose, of a satisfactory appearance and finish, and durable, amongst other things. It is up to you to prove your case, so if the shop is arguing that this is normal wear, you might need to seek a second opinion to prove them wrong. You could ask another carpet supplier for an informal opinion, or alternatively, you could appoint an independent expert. If this proves your case, and the shop still won’t accept liability, you might have to sue them for compensation in the courts. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 15
  16. 16. Question: I bought a computer as a gift for my nephew a few weeks ago, and it has now developed a fault. My nephew took it back to his local branch of the shop, but they say they don’t have to do anything because he didn’t buy the computer, and they don’t have a contract with him. When I bought the computer, I told the shop assistant that this was going to be a gift, and the assistant personally filled my nephew’s name in on the guarantee card. What are our rights? Response: Traditionally, because of a legal principle known as ‘privity of contract’ only the buyer and seller of the goods were considered to be in contract with each other. However, a recent change in the law has said that third parties, where clearly identified at the time of the sale, will now have rights under the contract too. The fact that you told the shop at the time of the sale that this was a gift, and even identified him in writing by name as the recipient of the goods, means that your nephew should be able to make a claim against the shop as a third party to the contract. If you are buying goods as a gift, then you should always let the shop know at the time of the purchase, and make sure if possible that it is put in writing ideally, get the assistant to endorse the receipt, so that you can hand this to the recipient of the gift too. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I bought a DVD player last week. It worked for a few days but has now completely failed. I have taken it back to the shop but they say that as it was working when they sold it to me, they no longer have to do anything at all. They also implied that I must have damaged it myself. What can I do? Response: The shop is wrong when they say that, because it was working when it was sold to you, they are no longer liable. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says that the shop should sell goods that are of a ‘satisfactory quality’, i.e. they should be free from fault, fit for their purpose and correctly described, as well as being durable. You are allowed a ‘reasonable’ period after purchase to check them out and see if they are OK, and if you only bought the player last week, you are well within this ‘reasonable’ time. If you can prove that the goods are faulty, you should be able to reject the DVD player and have your money back. Unfortunately, some shops try to avoid their liability by saying that the goods aren’t faulty, but have been damaged by the consumer. The law says that it is up to you to prove you have a case, so you should tell the shop that if they don’t accept responsibility, you will take the player to another shop for a second opinion in order to prove it is faulty. If you have to pay for this opinion, you could claim this back from the shop as well as a refund for being sold defective goods. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 16
  17. 17. Question: I bought a washing machine 10 months ago, and it has now gone wrong. The shop has refused to do anything other than repair it. Am I entitled to a refund or an exchange? Response: No. The law that covers this area, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended), says that you can usually only reject goods and have a refund in the very early stages of the deal, i.e. within the first few weeks after purchase. Also, there is nothing in law that requires a trader to provide replacement goods, although some shops have individual policies allowing for this check with the company’s head office if in doubt. After this length of time, the Sale of Goods Act says that you are allowed to claim ‘reasonable compensation’, usually, a repair or the cost of repair, so the shop has probably acted reasonably in offering this to you. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I ordered a dining table and chairs from a shop at the weekend, and paid a deposit of £250. Now, two days later, I’ve changed my mind. The shop has agreed to cancel the sale, but won’t give me back my deposit. Are they allowed to keep it? Would it have been any different if I had signed a credit deal at the time? Response: When you agreed to buy the furniture, and paid the deposit, you entered into a legally binding contract with the shop. For a cash sale such as this, you have no right to cancel the agreement, and if you do so, it is likely that you will lose the deposit. If you had signed a regulated credit agreement in the shop, then you still would not have had any general right of cancellation. However, you have a right to withdraw from the agreement if has not yet been ‘executed’, i.e. if the credit company have not yet signed it. (Often, a credit company might not sign the agreement for several days after you have, because they need time to check on your credit status). It is always worth checking with the credit company as soon as possible. If they do allow you to withdraw from the deal, then the entire contract would collapse, and you would then also be entitled to have your full deposit back. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 17
  18. 18. Question: I am thinking about buying a car direct from Europe, using a car importer. Do you have any tips? Response: This is becoming an increasingly popular way of buying new cars, often at prices much lower than in the UK. However, it can have its pitfalls, and it is essential to take precautions. Remember that you might have to wait several months for the car to be delivered; you might not get the same guarantees or warranties that you would get from a UK dealer. If there is a fault with the car, it might be difficult to take action against a dealer in another country - check whether the importer will take legal responsibility; check whether there are any risks of surcharges for differences in exchange rates; take steps to protect any advance payments, using a credit card if possible. Finally, shop around, and make sure you get EVERYTHING in writing. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I have just been to collect my car that was being repaired by a local garage, and the bill is a lot more than I expected. The garage won’t dive me the car back unless I pay. What can I do? Response: The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 says that, if no price is agreed beforehand, you are only obliged to pay a ‘reasonable’ sum for the work. To gauge what would constitute a reasonable amount, get 3 estimates from other similar sized garages in the same area. If they charge substantially less, tell the garage that this is all you are prepared to pay. There is a problem, though, in that the garage may exercise their right of 'lien' over the car. This effectively allows them to keep hold of the car until the money they are asking for is paid. You may then have no choice but to pay. However, you should make sure that this is payment ‘under protest’, and that you will immediately issue a summons in the sheriff court for the difference. It is important that you tell the garage your intentions in writing. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 18
  19. 19. Question: I have had the engine reconditioned on my car, and it is running as badly as it did before. The garage is not prepared to help. Response: Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, you are entitled to expect that the garage carried out the work with reasonable care and skill. Tell the garage why you are dissatisfied, and if they won’t accept liability, get the car looked at by another garage, preferably an authorised dealer for your make of car. If all else fails, you may need to get a problem rectified elsewhere - make sure you get a full written report, and keep any parts that are removed or replaced. You might then have to sue the garage in the Sheriff Court. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 19
  20. 20. Question: I am about to sell my car privately through the small ads, what steps should I take to protect myself? Response: Have the car MOT’d and check that it is roadworthy. It can be a criminal offence to sell an unroadworthy car. Describe the model, year, and mileage as long as you know it is "genuine". Do not make statements such as "excellent condition"; "genuine mileage"; "A good little runner". Any description you apply could make you liable if it turns out to be untrue. Always ask for cash before you release the car, or cash the cheque first. Building Society cheques or Bankers Drafts give a little more protection than an ordinary bank cheque. Never release the car until you have received full payment. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I have bought a car privately, through the small ads of my local paper. It was only £800, but I now find the engine is totally worn out, and it is using oil excessively. What can I do? Response: When you buy privately, the law says that you have fewer rights than when buying from a trader. The principle of 'caveat emptor' or ‘buyer beware’ operates. You have no legal right to expect the goods to be of a satisfactory quality (although cars should be roadworthy, whether bought privately or not). You are entitled, however, to expect the car to be correctly described. So, if the seller had claimed that it was in ‘excellent condition’ for example, then you might have been able to argue misrepresentation. It is always a good idea to take a knowledgeable friend or mechanic with you when you buy a car privately and you must accept that although you might get a good price buying privately, there are attendant risks, also. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 : Question: I have signed a credit agreement arranged by a local garage to buy a second hand car. It is a hire purchase agreement. I have since discovered that the salesman falsely described the age of the car and told me that it was "genuine" mileage, when it wasn’t. Response: Act quickly. Write a letter to the finance company telling them that the seller has falsely described the car. Make it clear that you want to cancel the deal, in view of the false descriptions. Press for your money back, plus the part exchange car (or the value of it). Inform your local Trading Standards Service, as there may be criminal offences that they can investigate under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I signed a credit agreement at a local garage this weekend to buy a new car. The salesman was extremely pushy, and now I have got home, I realise that I cannot afford it. /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 20
  21. 21. Response: You need to act quickly, get in touch with the finance company and tell them you wish to "withdraw" from the agreement. Explain that you can’t afford to go ahead. Fax them a letter stating the same details as you have discussed over the telephone. The contract becomes binding once the finance company has signed the agreement. If you manage to "withdraw" before it is signed by the finance company, the deal is then effectively cancelled. If a deposit has been paid you should claim that back in full from the car supplier. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I bought a brand new car for cash 3 weeks ago. I want the garage to take it back because I have discovered numerous faults. The engine does not run smoothly and the bodywork is damaged. Response: If you act quickly and seek to reject the car quickly, you should be in a position to claim your money back, plus the part-exchange car or the value of it. The law says you must be given a reasonable time to examine the car to ensure that it is satisfactory in practice, this may only be a few weeks. You must therefore act very quickly. The law that protects you is the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) by the Sale & Supply of Goods Act 1994). Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I bought a brand new car at the weekend, and signed a Hire Purchase agreement. I took delivery today and am really disappointed. I have found chips on the paintwork, a crease in the roof, and the car intermittently judders at 60 mph? Response: When you purchase a brand new car which is subject to Hire Purchase Agreement or a Conditional Sale Agreement you are protected by the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973. The vehicle should be of satisfactory quality, which covers appearance and finish, freedom from minor defects, safety and durability. As you bought on HP, your contract is with the HP company, so you should approach them in writing and cancel the contract. Explain exactly what the faults are and enclose copies of any proof you have of the faults. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 21
  22. 22. Question: I paid a deposit on a brand new motorbike last week. The dealer and I agreed a price of £6,500 and I have an order form with this price clearly shown. The dealer now says that he has made a mistake with the price and he wants a further £750. Do I have to pay this? Response: No! You have entered into a legally binding contract with the dealer at an agreed price. By charging you more money after the deal is struck, the dealer is in breach of contract. If the dealer refuses to supply the motorbike at the agreed price, then you would be entitled to cancel the contract and have your deposit refunded. If you are then forced to buy the bike elsewhere for a higher price, you could claim the difference from the dealer. You should write to the company, pointing out that they are in breach of the contract, and giving them notice of your intentions if they do not supply the bike at the agreed price within, say, 7 days. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: No! You have entered into a legally binding contract with the dealer at an agreed price. By charging you more money after the deal is struck, the dealer is in breach of contract. If the dealer refuses to supply the motorbike at the agreed price, then you would be entitled to cancel the contract and have your deposit refunded. If you are then forced to buy the bike elsewhere for a higher price, you could claim the difference from the dealer. You should write to the company, pointing out that they are in breach of the contract, and giving them notice of your intentions if they do not supply the bike at the agreed price within, say, 7 days. Response: The Hire Purchase Act (now incorporated into the Consumer Credit Act) states that the fist ‘innocent purchaser’ of the vehicle gets ‘good title' or ownership. By innocent purchaser, the law means someone who did not know, and who could not reasonably have been expected to know, about the outstanding HP agreement. The HP company would not be able to repossess the car from you, therefore, and should pursue your friend for breach of the Hire Purchase agreement. This applies even if you had bought the car from a trader, as you would still have been an ‘innocent purchaser’. Of course, it follows that if you had known about the HP agreement, or if you had suspicions and didn’t ask any questions, you would not be considered to be an innocent purchaser - ownership would not pass to you and the car could then be repossessed. You should always consider carrying out checks before you buy a car. There are agencies, such as HPI, who will search their databases and let you know whether the car has an HP agreement registered against it, or whether it has been declared an insurance write-off, and also whether it has been reported stolen. Incidentally, stolen cars (in common with other stolen goods) will always remain the property of the person from whom they were stolen. If you are unfortunate enough to buy a stolen car, then the original owner will be entitled to have it back. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 22
  23. 23. Question: Last night, I lost my wallet that contained all my credit cards. I am worried that somebody may find it and start using my cards - to what extent am I liable? Response: The first thing to do is to notify the credit card companies immediately, by telephone, advise them of the loss or theft and request them to cancel your cards. It is essential that you do this as quickly as possible before the thief has time to use the card - if you do this, you will not be liable for any bills which the thief may incur. Then, write to them within the next seven days to confirm your telephone conversation. Under the Consumer Credit Act, your maximum liability will be £50 even if you fail to notify the credit card company. However, if you have been careless, such as writing your confidential PIN number on the back of the card or if the PIN number is easily identifiable on a piece of paper near the cards (say), then you may lose this protection and you may be liable to pay any bills incurred. If someone uses your payment card fraudulently to shop from home without your permission, you can cancel the payment and your card company must arrange for your account to be re- credited in full. If you discover that someone has used your card dishonestly, tell the card issuer as soon as possible. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I wanted to buy a three piece suite from my local furniture store and take out their ‘Buy now, Pay later’ finance scheme but after I filled in all the forms the store told me that they had carried out some checks and they refused me credit - can they do this and what are my rights? Response: It is probable that the furniture store or their credit company contacted a ‘credit reference agency’ to get some basic details about you and your credit record. If they did, you have a legal right to know their name and address. When you receive this - you can then write to them and ask for a copy of your file. You must also supply your full name and address, any other addresses you may have lived at in the last six years together with a small £2 fee. They must reply to you within seven working days of receiving your letter. If your file contains incorrect information, you can ask for it to be amended. A leaflet has been published by the Data Protection Commissioner called ‘NO CREDIT’. It explains in full what you can do to challenge incorrect information, along with sample letters. Ask for it at your local Trading Standards Dept, CAB or library. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 23
  24. 24. Question: I recently went in to my local electrical superstore and purchased two items using my credit card - one was a toaster costing £35 and the other was tumble dryer, which cost £250. The toaster caught fire the following day and the tumble dryer doesn’t ‘tumble’ - in other words, both items developed faults shortly after I purchased them. What are my rights against the superstore and against the credit card company? Response: When you purchase goods, you are entitled to expect them to be of 'satisfactory quality', ‘as described’ and ‘fit for the purpose’ under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended). In law, these are called 'implied terms' and cannot, legally, be taken away from you. If the supplier, in this case the electrical superstore, breaks any of these terms, he is deemed to be a 'breach of contract' and you are entitled to a full refund of any monies paid. If they don’t give you a refund then you are entitled to seek recovery through the 'small claims procedure' of your local county court. Don’t be deterred by their attempts to refer you to the manufacturer. In addition, the credit card company is also ‘jointly liable’ under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for a breach of contract by the superstore so, you can either sue the superstore or the credit card company or both. However, this ‘joint liability’ provision only applies to single items with a cash price over £100 - therefore, you could only take action against the superstore in respect of the toaster but against either or both the superstore and the credit card company in respect of the tumble dryer. This ‘joint liability’ provision can be especially useful if the supplier goes out of business e.g. if a tour operator ‘crashes’ after you have paid for your holiday by credit card. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I don’t have a very good credit record and I found it difficult to get a £2,000 loan. I asked a credit broker to find one for me, which he did, but I didn’t take it up and now he’s charging me £250 for his services - do I have to pay? Response: The broker is entitled to charge you a reasonable fee but, if you didn’t enter into the loan within the six months of being introduced to a possible lender, the broker is only entitled to keep £5 of a fee or commission. If you’ve paid more than £5, you can ask him to refund the difference to you. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 24
  25. 25. Question: Last week we received a visit at our home from a company selling conservatories - we agreed to buy one for £6,000 and we signed a credit agreement. We’ve now decided that we can’t afford it and want to pull out of the deal. The company has told us that we can’t and that there is no 'cooling off' period - are they right? Response: No. The agreement is cancelable if oral representations were made in your presence (as opposed to a telephone call) and the agreement was signed ‘off trade premises’ i.e. in your private home. In this case, a copy of the agreement and a notice of your cancellation rights should have been given to you when you signed. In addition, a second copy, again including a notice of your cancellation rights, must also be sent to you, by post, within 7 days of the making of the agreement. The ‘cooling off’ period, during which time you may cancel the agreement, runs from the time you sign the agreement until the end of the 5th day following the day when you received your second copy through the post. To cancel the agreement, you must give written notice at any time during the ‘cooling off’ period to the creditor or their agent. In this instance, any payments made must be returned to you. A cancellation notice sent by post is deemed to have been ‘served’ at the time of posting as opposed to the time of receipt - so, provided you have posted it within the ‘cooling off’ period, the agreement is effectively cancelled. If you’ve not been given ‘copies’ or a notice of your cancellation rights, the agreement is totally unenforceable. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I bought my car on hire purchase about eighteen months ago and the agreement has about 6 months to run - I’ve missed about 3 or 4 payments - the finance company want to repossess it but I’ve heard something about the car being ‘protected goods’ - what does this mean? Response: If you’ve missed any payments, then you’re in breach of the agreement, but, if you’ve paid one third or more of the ‘total price’ of the goods, then they are ‘protected goods’. This means that the creditor (finance company) can only repossess the car with a court order. If they repossess the car without the court order, then three ‘events’ take place. Firstly, the agreement is terminated. Secondly, you (the debtor) are freed from all liability under the agreement - past, present and future. Thirdly, you are entitled to recover all the money you’ve paid under the agreement. Thus, there are serious consequences for the creditor if he fails to obtain the ‘court order’. Furthermore, if the car is in your garage or on your drive, then the creditor must obtain a second court order to enter your premises - if he doesn’t, you will be able to make a claim for /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 25
  26. 26. damages. And, before any of these actions can take place, the creditor must first serve you with a 'default notice' which will set out what action you should take. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: What should I do if I’m unable to make my repayments under a credit agreement? Response: There are many reasons why people can fall behind on payments of their credit agreements - loss of employment, relationship breakdowns, unexpected major financial commitments elsewhere, long term sickness. People are often very distressed and embarrassed about admitting they are in debt, and often ignore the problem. It will not go away, and will only get worse. You should always notify the credit company at the earliest opportunity if you are experiencing difficulty. Most companies will have come across this situation many times before, and will have specially trained staff to help you, without being critical and judgmental. In the vast majority of cases, they will work out alternative methods of paying, called ‘rescheduling’ the agreement. Many will agree to suspend interest payments until you get back on your feet again. If you find that your credit company is being unhelpful or if you’d rather talk to someone independently, seek advice from your local CAB. Many have debt counselors who can negotiate with a credit company on your behalf. You should also check to see whether you have any insurance cover with the credit agreement, which might cover the payments in certain situations, e.g. redundancy or illness. Whatever you do, be wary of companies offering you yet more loans to get you out of an existing debt. These loans are often at cripplingly high rates of interest, and many are secured against your house. REMEMBER, SEEK ADVICE QUICKLY AND DON’T IGNORE THE PROBLEM YOU WILL OFTEN FIND THAT PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES ARE FAR MORE SYMPATHETIC AND HELPFUL THAN YOU’D THINK! Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: Are ‘credit sale’, ‘conditional sale' and 'hire purchase' the same thing? Response: These are all forms of credit offered by finance houses and retailers, but there are certain important distinctions. A credit sale is one where the purchase of goods is financed by a loan, which is repayable over a fixed period of time. Often, domestic household goods are sold this way, such as washing machines, TVs, etc. The retailer arranges the finance for you with a finance company, and the goods become your property immediately. The goods cannot be repossessed if you fall behind with your payments (what is called falling into arrears). Hire purchase is most often used for very expensive items, such as cars. What happens here is that the finance company buys the goods from the seller, and then hires them to you for a fixed period? At the end of the agreement, once the final payment is made, you can exercise the option to have ownership, or ‘title’ to the goods, and they will become your property. Until then, though, 'title' or ownership, stays with the finance company, and you cannot sell the goods or get rid of them without the company’s permission. The finance company is obliged to make sure that the goods are of a satisfactory quality. If you have paid more than a third of the agreed price, and you fall into arrears, the goods cannot be repossessed without a court order. You can hand the goods back at any stage of an HP agreement, although the company /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 26
  27. 27. is entitled to claim up to 50% of the agreement price. Conditional sale agreements are very similar to HP deals, except that you are normally committed to taking title or ownership of the goods at the end of the agreement. There are many other types of credit agreements available, such as store cards, rolling account credit, buy-now-pay-later schemes, interest free schemes, and lease-hire agreements. In most cases, the Consumer Credit Act 1974 lays down strict guidelines as to how these agreements should be drawn up and worded, and provide rights for early settlement, and the correct procedures that finance companies should follow in the event of there being arrears or other breaches of the agreement. ALWAYS read a finance agreement before you sign it, and if in doubt, seek advice on your rights from Trading Standards and CAB. REMEMBER - CREDIT AGREEMENTS CAN BE EASY TO GET INTO BUT MAY NOT BE SO EASY TO GET OUT OF! Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: What’s the difference between a ‘credit card’ and a ‘charge card’ and how do they operate? Response: Credit cards are issued by banks, financial institutions and retailers. Each customer has a credit limit and may purchase goods/services (and, in some cases, draw cash) up to that credit limit at retailers which accept the credit card concerned - the retailer is reimbursed by the credit card company (less a small amount called the 'merchant charge') - the credit card company presents a monthly account to the customer. The customer then has the option of: - (a) paying cash, in full, to settle the account, (b) taking credit - if credit is taken, the customer must periodically make payments not less than 5% of the outstanding balance (say), and interest accrues on the outstanding balance. Examples of credit cards are Barclaycard, Visa, Access, and Mastercard Charge cards are similar to credit cards but with one important distinction - a charge card holder is not given the option of paying cash or taking credit - he must settle the account, in full, usually every month. Examples of charge cards are American Express and Diners Club. The advantages of credit cards are that they are easy to use, they give you instant credit at your fingertips, and you can defer your decision as to how to repay. The major advantage, though, is that you are given protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means that the credit card company has to accept liability for breaches of contract on transactions over £100 and up to £25,000. So if you are supplied with faulty goods or a trader goes bust, then you can get compensation through the card company. Note that this DOES NOT apply to charge cards. However, some charge cards also offer protection over and above that provided by the legislation, through voluntary insurance schemes for example. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I am intending to have a new garage built on to my house and am concerned about safeguarding any money paid to a builder if he goes out of business or his work is unsatisfactory. /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 27
  28. 28. Response: There is always a risk of losing money paid in advance but there are a number of ways to protect it: •Some builders require money up front for materials but don't pay more than, say, 10%. You should agree to pay stated amounts at set stages with a job of this size. •Many builders offer insurance backed guarantees either because of membership of a trade association or through an independent third party organisation. These schemes vary enormously in the amount of cover and may require the payment of a small insurance premium so be sure to check the complete documentation before you sign. •If possible pay any money using your credit card or by a loan arranged through the builder. In both cases the credit card company or finance company are jointly liable with the builder under Consumer Credit law to cover any loss arising from unsatisfactory work or the builder going bust. This law applies to jobs with a cash value up to £30,000 where any loan is for less than £25,000. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I am in the process of buying a house and the present owners have said they have guarantees for timber treatment and damp proofing carried out on the property. Will I be able to rely on these guarantees if necessary? Response: Legally, guarantees are part of a contract between the company providing the service and the householder at the time. Many of them are for long periods of time and often the company is no longer in existence when it becomes necessary to use the guarantee. However, new owners of property can take over guarantees but you will need to check the wording of the guarantee documents or ask the person carrying out the conveyancing to see if it is possible. In particular, •no guarantee is of any use if the company is no longer in existence unless it was also backed by financial protection insurance. •if the company still exists it may be a requirement, on payment of a registration fee, to notify them that you now own the house. •transfer of a guarantee to you might require your conveyancer to arrange a legally binding 'assignment' to you at the time you buy the property. Many specialist treatment companies are members of trade associations operating schemes to protect customers, so it will be worth checking to see if your company belongs to one. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: A painter and decorator agreed to paint the outside of my house but I forgot to agree a start date with him. The autumn is approaching, but he always says he is busy elsewhere. When can I give up on him and go to an alternative tradesman? Response: Although no start date was agreed the law requires that the job should be done /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 28
  29. 29. within a ‘reasonable time’. Even though it is not easy to decide on what is reasonable for a particular situation, the trader cannot justify delay on the grounds of being busy. In the circumstances you would expect the work to have started within a few weeks and it is now necessary to introduce a time into the contract. You will need to write to the trader indicating that you intend to cancel the agreement if the work is not started within, say, a month. If the work is not started by then you will be free to find an alternative trader and have the right to claim from the original contractor any financial loss you have incurred by making the alternative arrangements. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 29
  30. 30. Question: I have been advised that I should have a written contract to cover work carried out on my house. What should this include? Response: It is possible to draw up your own written contract, but many building trades associations will supply you with a simple standard form of contract. You should be careful of traders who offer a contract containing their own terms and conditions. Read any small print and insist on any changes with the trader if you are not happy. You should be wary about proceeding with a contract containing many exclusion clauses which the trader refuses to amend. You might want to consider paying for a JCT contract. This is a standard contract for the building industry, currently costing about £10, which has been drawn up by the Joint Contract Tribunal. You can email them for more information on lewisk@construct-confed.co.uk Your contract should include the following: •yours, and the contractor's name and address •the standard of workmanship to be carried out in a 'good and workmanlike manner', description of materials to be used and compliance with any plans and specifications, including reference to any relevant British Standards or Codes of Practice. •start and completion dates with details of compensation for late completion arising from delays except those beyond the control of the contractor. •clarification of who is responsible for obtaining planning permission or applying for Building Regulations. •requirement that the contractor leave the site in a tidy state and be aware of environmental and wildlife considerations during the course of the work. •requirement for the contractor to be adequately insured and agreement that any changes to the contract must be agreed in writing. •provision for ending the contract by either party, the total cost of the work, how it will be paid and details of any stage payments. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I am about to have some major renovations done to my home and want to avoid as far as possible any problems with contractors. What can I do to avoid disputes? Response: Choice of a reliable trader is important in ensuring a good job, carried out to an acceptable standard, on time and at a reasonable price. Recommendations of a neighbour or relative use of an established local trader with a reputation to protect or membership of a trade association are all factors which should influence your choice. Increasingly local councils are offering lists of traders who are committed to fair trading schemes. It is important to be clear about what you require and particularly what work a trader says is necessary to remedy a specific problem. Insist on a written firm quotation and not an estimate. Get quotations from three different traders. Particularly for large-scale jobs you should have a written contract and only pay when you are satisfied that any work has been completed to your satisfaction. You should only make payments in advance for materials, and for long-term jobs the contract should specify the stages at which any instalments are to be paid. You will then be able to withhold payment of /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 30
  31. 31. any instalment until work has been completed satisfactorily. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: The wooden doors of a conservatory I have had built at the rear of my house do not fit or lock properly. The builder used subcontractors to do different parts of the job and is saying the carpenter is responsible for the doors and not him. Is this right? Response: Your agreement was with the builder and he is responsible for any work carried out by subcontractors used by him. The builder is therefore responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the job were carried out on time, in accordance with any technical specifications and descriptions agreed and that all work was carried out with 'reasonable skill and care'. You have these rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. If the builder has not complied with any of these obligations he is liable to put the defects right. After giving him the opportunity, he is unwilling or unable to do so, you are entitled to get the work remedied by another builder and deduct the cost from the original builder’s invoice. Many builders belong to trade associations which offer complaints handling services, conciliation and arbitration schemes to resolve disputes with their members and increasingly offer financial protection schemes to protect customers should firms go out of business. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I recently had the flat roof of a garage refelted and on completion of the job I signed a note that I was satisfied with the work. I wasn’t able to check the work at the time but now the roof is leaking. What rights do I have to claim from the roofer? Response: In signing the note you probably agreed that you had inspected the work and found no problems. If you have to sign a satisfaction note in future without being able to check the work, do so, but write on it ‘work not inspected’. However, the work should still be satisfactory under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. You should persist with a complaint because the fault was probably not obvious even if you had been able to inspect the work. If the firm claimed in its advertisement or paperwork to be a member of a trade association you might find that it would offer assistance to resolve your problem. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I have decided to have a new central heating system installed in my house and I have noticed many companies display a logo of a trade association in their advertisement. Are there any advantages in choosing a firm which is a member of a trade association? Response: There is no guarantee that a company which is a member of a trade association will do a better job than a non member. However, membership may mean that a company /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 31
  32. 32. must comply with the association’s Code of Practice covering standards of work and, should things go wrong, provide access to a complaints handling service and inexpensive arbitration scheme if you do have problems. However you will not be able to take the firm to court simply for failing to comply with the Code of Practice. Many trade associations are including financial protection for money paid by customers to member firms, so it will be worth checking this with any association of which a firm claims to be a member. Remember any installer of gas central heating must by law be registered with CORGI (Council for Registered Gas Installers) which ensures standards of safety. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 32
  33. 33. Question: I went to a local pub with a reputation for being children friendly and was pleased to see advertised ‘Buy two adult meals get one children’s meal free’ My older son and I ordered two adult meals and a children’s burger and chips for my younger son. We enjoyed the meal but I was not very happy when I received the bill as I had been charged for the children’s meal. When I queried this I was told that this offer only applied to adult meals ordered before 1 p.m. and we had ordered at 1.20pm. There was no indication of this on the blackboard outside. Is this right? Response: I went to a local pub with a reputation for being children friendly and was pleased to see advertised ‘Buy two adult meals get one children’s meal free’ My older son and I ordered two adult meals and a children’s burger and chips for my younger son. We enjoyed the meal but I was not very happy when I received the bill as I had been charged for the children’s meal. When I queried this I was told that this offer only applied to adult meals ordered before 1 p.m. and we had ordered at 1.20pm. There was no indication of this on the blackboard outside. Is this right? Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I went out to lunch and ordered a meal which included some potato salad. I was very unhappy to discover a rubber band amongst the potatoes. When I complained the lady in charge said that she was very sorry but it was not her fault she had only just opened the container and showed me the box with one portion missing. She said as it was not her fault (I feel that this was true) she could not do anything about it. Is this right? Response: No. As the seller of the meal she is responsible for the products she sells and she should make an offer of compensation to you. You should report the matter to the local Environmental Health Department, as selling food with a ‘foreign body’ in it can be an offence under the Food Safety Act. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 33
  34. 34. Question: I went to my local take away just 5 minutes walk from my home. When I got the food home I found that the meal was cold and what had been described as King Prawns were, in fact, tiny shrimps. I took it back but they refused to replace it or give me a refund. What are my rights? Response: You are entitled to expect the food to be of a satisfactory quality, so it should have been hot. The take-away should have refunded your money. You may want to report them to your local Environmental Health Department, as improperly cooked food, or food served at the incorrect temperature, may pose a health risk. Further, you should notify your local Trading Standards Department. This is because the food appears to have been misdescribed, and they might want to investigate it under the Trade Descriptions Act. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I recently went to a restaurant which had been recommended to me. When I sat down, I was horrified to realise that the prices were very expensive. I had not seen any prices as I went in, shouldn’t they be clearly displayed? Response: Yes. A pub should display a menu at the bar or on the table depending on where you order the food. A restaurant must display prices on a menu at or near the entrance in so that you can see them before you sit down. All the prices must include VAT and must also show any compulsory service /cover/minimum charges. If the information is not clearly displayed report the premises to the local Trading Standards Service. If you had booked a table, without knowing the prices, and decide to leave as it was too expensive, even if you had not ordered, you could find that the restaurant might sue you for loss of profit. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: My brother and I went for a meal in a smart restaurant in town. We were extremely unhappy with the service we received. It took the waiter over 20 minutes to provide us with a menu, another half an hour to take out order and an eternity to serve the meal. We complained to the waiter at the end of the meal but he was not interested and we felt pressured to pay the bill. Can we still get our money back? Response: You may not be able to get your money back, although it is still worth writing to ask. It is sensible to complain to the Manager at the time of the problem and if you fail to reach an agreement deduct an appropriate amount from the bill. To decide what is appropriate look at the way the bill is made up, if there is a compulsory service charge detailed separately, deduct either all or part of this figure. If the service charge /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 34
  35. 35. is included in the price of the food deduct a reasonable sum from the total, perhaps 10-15% if the service element is not up to scratch. If the service charge is optional, you would not have to pay any charge but it would be difficult to justify deducting any extra from the bill as service is not included in it. Leave a name and address with the restaurant if you do not pay in full. It will be up to them to claim against you if it does not agree. If you pay in full and the bill includes a service charge then you should pay ‘under protest’ and write to the restaurant as soon as possible afterwards. You may be able to claim through the courts later on if the matter remains unresolved. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: My friend and I went out for the day to the countryside and stopped at a little cottage café advertising "Home-made pies and cakes just like your Mother used to make". We decided to order a chicken and mushroom pie and baked potatoes. We were very unhappy when the pie came as it clearly was not home-made and the chicken was that chopped and shaped processed meat. Can cafes describe their food as homemade when it clearly is not. Response: No. The food should be as described and there could be both an offence under criminal law which your local Trading Standards Service may be able to take up and also a breach of contract. This would mean you could possibly reduce the amount you pay to reflect the difference in value between a factory made and home made pie or pay ‘under protest’ and make a claim for damages for this amount. Additionally, there is no problem using chopped and shaped chicken rather than chicken pieces cut from the carcass as long as it was clear on the menu or before ordering. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 35
  36. 36. Question: I booked a table at a popular restaurant, for a Christmas meal for my colleagues from the office. Unfortunately, the weather was very poor and several colleagues, who had to travel a long distance were not able to make it there, as it was not sensible for them to travel. At the end of the meal the staff who had managed to attend were presented with a bill for the number booked originally. They protested but the restaurant insisted that the full bill be paid. Did they have to pay as the restaurant could have used the food the following night and it was not our fault we could not get there? Response: Yes you would have to pay the restaurant. When you make a booking for a certain number of people a contract is being made. Failure to turn up is viewed as a breach of that contract whether it is beyond your control or not you could find that the restaurant might sue you for loss of profit. The food in this instance was for a Christmas Party Night, and would have been prepared for that night. They would argue to keep it for the following night would be a food hygiene risk to customers. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: Last night I went into a pub for a quick drink and a packet of crisps. I opened the crisps and ate one and discovered it was soft. I looked at the best before date on the packet and realised that it had expired over two months earlier. When I complained, the lady behind the bar just laughed and replaced them with a different flavour. Is it illegal to sell food after the best before date has expired? Response: There are two types of date marking used on food. The ‘Best Before’ date is used on food with a long shelf life, such as crisps. In itself, it is not an offence to sell food beyond this date unless it is unfit for human consumption, but you are entitled to expect the food to be of a ‘satisfactory quality’. Therefore, if the crisps were stale, you would be entitled to a refund. The other date is the ‘Use By’ date. This is used in highly perishable food, such as fresh meat, dairy products etc, which has the potential to deteriorate quickly. It is an offence to sell food beyond the use by date at any time, and if you discover this, or if you suspect dates have been changed, notify Environmental Health as soon as possible. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 36
  37. 37. Question: Having been out to the local pub for a meal, just a few hours later I was very ill for over two weeks. The Doctor suspected food poisoning. I think it was the prawns I ate at the pub. Is there anything I can do? Response: Yes report your suspicions to the Doctor. He will decide whether the Environmental Health Authority should be informed. It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of food poisoning as often the symptoms can take up to three days to appear. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: Last week we went to a restaurant for a Birthday meal and my sister ordered a vegetarian cauliflower and broccoli quiche. To her horror, when she cut into it, she discovered that there was bacon in it . She complained and did not eat it and insisted on a different vegetarian meal. However, when the bill came we saw that we had been charged for both vegetarian meals. We refused to pay for the quiche and the manager threatened to call the police so we paid. Did I have to pay? Response: No, you were entitled in these circumstances to complain and refuse to pay for the dish. If you felt that you had no alternative but to pay for the quiche then you should pay ‘under protest’ and then you can make a claim later on. As long as you paid for the food and drink you did eat, the police would have no basis to get involved. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I recently took an evening dress to the dry cleaners, and I pointed out a stain. When I collected it, the stain was still there and the fabric had faded. I complained but the dry cleaner pointed to a notice stating ‘we cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage howsoever caused’. What are my rights? Response: The Unfair Contract Terms Act and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations prevent traders from limiting their liability in this way. Any contract term must satisfy the test of ‘reasonableness’ and no contract term can seek to restrict your statutory rights. For example, the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended) entitles you to have garments cleaned with reasonable skill and care. Therefore, the dry cleaner cannot avoid legal liability if they were negligent. You should complain in writing, and threaten to sue if they do not compensate you for the loss. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 37
  38. 38. Question: I went to a new hairdresser for a perm. Within a few days I had an inflamed patch of skin on the top of my head. The stylist blamed the batch of solution. Can I claim any compensation? Response: The hairdresser was providing a service and should have exercised reasonable skill and care whilst doing so, as required by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. When using chemicals an experienced stylist should have carried out a patch test first to check for any adverse reaction. If the hairdresser fails to do this and you suffer an injury you will have a claim for compensation. You should complain to the owner of the salon in writing. You should also visit your GP and get medical evidence. If the hairdresser is a member of the Hairdressing Council you may be able to use that organisation’s conciliation service. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I made an appointment at a beautician’s salon, but didn’t go as something turned up. The salon has now written to me, asking for payment. They say they could have taken other clients if I had notified them that I wasn’t turning up. Can they do this? Response: Yes. When you make an appointment, you create a contract with the company, and if you fail to keep the appointment, you will be in breach of contract. The trader could be entitled to claim compensation for the loss of business, especially if he had turned other customers away, but it would be reasonable for you to expect evidence of this Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 38
  39. 39. Question: I employed a removals company when I moved house recently. Several items were delivered broken and some were lost. What rights do I have? Response: You are entitled to expect the removals firm to have carried out their service using ‘reasonable skill and care’ under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended). They should have taken care of your property whilst it was in their possession, and if they caused loss or damage because of their negligence, you could claim compensation for breach of contract. Check what insurance cover the company has, and also look to see whether they are members of a trade association, such as the British Association of Removers, who have a code of practice and may be willing to arbitrate. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: In a cafe recently, I was served a burger that was not cooked properly, and was virtually raw in the middle. Did I have to pay for it? Response: You are entitled to expect a caterer or restaurant to have prepared food correctly and safely, under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended) and the Food Safety Act 1990. If they didn’t provide a satisfactory replacement, you could deduct the value of the burger from the final bill. You would, however, be expected to pay for elements of the meal that were OK. You should also report the cafe to the local Environmental Health Department, as the food may not have been safe to eat. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I had new tyres fitted to my car, but when I drove away home the wheels locked. I called the RAC who said the tyres were over-inflated and the wheels had not been fitted correctly. What are my rights? Response: The garage should have exercised reasonable skill and care when carrying out this work, as required by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. You are entitled to expect them to put the matter right, or refund your money plus any additional out of pocket expenses you may have incurred. Ask the RAC to confirm in writing what their patrolman found, and present a copy to the garage. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: My daughter is getting married, and we took 8 metres of pure silk to a dressmaker who measured her and made a dress. However the dressmaker has made a dreadful job of it /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 39
  40. 40. - the dress doesn’t fit properly, the pattern on the fabric has not been matched. I don’t think that it can be put right and the wedding is only 6 weeks off. What can we do? Response: The dressmaker failed to make the dress using reasonable skill and care, as required by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. You should consult another dressmaker to see if the dress can be salvaged. If not, then you are entitled to be fully compensated for the loss of the material and the cost of making up the dress. Also, if you have to pay more to get a suitable dress elsewhere, you could be entitled to claim the difference from the dressmaker. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I paid £25 for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to my friend’s house on her birthday from a local florist. When I went to see her the next day, I was disappointed in them - it was a very poor selection and half of them were wilting already. What are my rights? Response: You were entitled to expect the florist to make up a bouquet that was of a satisfactory quality. The flowers should also have been fresh and should last a reasonable time. If not, the florist has failed in their obligations under the Supply of Goods and Services Act. You should complain to the florist, and perhaps seek the advice of another florist as to how long the bouquet should have lasted. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I ordered a new bathroom from a local company, and they finished installing it yesterday. However, the quality of workmanship is very shoddy. Some tiles are chipped and coming off the wall, the bath panel has been dented, and the shower leaks. I haven’t paid yet. What are my rights? Response: Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended) you are entitled to expect the work to be carried out using reasonable skill and care, i.e. a good professional level of workmanship. You are entitled to expect the company to fix any outstanding problems, and replace any items that are damaged. If they won’t do this, you can withhold some of the money, to reflect the cost of employing another company to put the matter right. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 40
  41. 41. Question: I booked an early morning taxi to take me to the airport, and gave the company full details of my flight and check-in times. The taxi was an hour late, and as a consequence, I missed my flight. I was able to travel 5 hours later, but had to pay the airline a supplement. Can I claim compensation from the taxi company? Response: The taxi firm had a duty to carry out their service to you using reasonable skill and care, as required by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended). As they knew your travel details, they would be aware of the consequences of their being late, and therefore you could hold them liable for the extra costs that you incurred, i.e. the flight supplement, essential phone calls, refreshments etc. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 Question: I booked flights to Lanzarote from a local travel agent, by phone, using my credit card. When I went to collect the tickets, they were to Faro in Portugal. The agent said I had asked for Faro! What are my rights? Response: You should argue that the agent is in breach of contract because the wrong tickets were supplied, and should demand a refund or that they book flights to the correct destination. As you paid by credit card, and if the tickets cost more than £100 each, you should claim against the credit card company under the principle of Equal Liability (provided by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974). If you have to pay more money to get an alternative flight, then you could hold the agent/credit card company liable for the difference in price also. Be aware, though, that if the agent continues to deny that you asked for Lanzarote, then it may be difficult to prove what happened, and the dispute may come down to your word against theirs. Ultimately, only a court can decide on what happened, based on the ‘balance of probabilities’. Contact Name: Environmental Operations Admin Contact Ext No: 2252/2177 /home/pptfactory/temp/20100504130736/environmental-servicesdoc123.doc 41

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