Your Questions Answered

May 27, 2020

Every month we receive thousands of questions from consumers about their rights when things go wrong. Here are some of the most common queries we received during the last month.

Q: I ordered a toy for my daughter’s birthday from an online business shortly after the World Health Organisation declared the Coronavirus situation a pandemic. I paid for express delivery, but it still hasn’t arrived. Her birthday is tomorrow, so I have had to buy her something else. As the toy didn’t arrive on time from the online business, can I send it back and ask for a refund?

A: Because of the COVID-19 situation, businesses such as online retailers may be continuing to have difficulties meeting agreed delivery times. However, irrespective of the situation consumer law still applies, and if you bought the toy from a website within the EU you have strong rights. Because you paid for express delivery and your order hasn’t arrived when they said it would, you now have two options:

  • you can contact the business to agree a different date that suits you, or
  • you can cancel the order and get a refund

If you choose a refund, you can either cancel your order before the toy arrives, or you have up to 14 days after the toy arrives to let the retailer know you would like a refund. After this, you have another 14 days to return it to them. When you are returning something, the business can hold on to your refund until they have proof that you have sent the goods back to them.

Also, if you choose to return the toy, you may not be refunded for the express delivery charge, but it’s important to know that you are entitled to claim back the cost of standard delivery – so make sure you check the refunded amount.

If you bought the present from a website based outside the EU, you do not have the same level of protection, so you will need to check the terms and conditions on the business website to see if you can cancel your order and get a full refund.

If the goods aren’t delivered and you are having trouble getting a refund of your money, and you have paid by credit or debit card you could try a chargeback.  To do this you need to contact your credit or debit card provider – usually your bank – and they will take you through the process to reverse the transaction. More information can be found about chargebacks here.

Q: I employed a local plumber to fix an issue we were having with our shower. A few days after finishing the job, a part of the ceiling in our kitchen, which is directly beneath the bathroom shower, started to leak. I’ve tried contacting the plumber who isn’t answering my calls. What are my rights and what actions can I take to fix the problem?

A: You have a number of rights as a consumer when you buy or engage a service. In your particular situation, you have the right to expect that the service you purchased is provided with the proper care and attention.

If you are not entirely happy with the work carried out and feel that the plumber did not provide a proper service with the necessary care and diligence you are entitled to have the problem sorted out. It’s important to know that this applies regardless of whether your agreement with them was written or verbal. A verbal contract is as valid and binding as a written one. The first step should be to talk to your plumber and explain why you are not happy and try to agree how the problem can be solved.

However, if your plumber continues to ignore your calls, consider writing a letter of complaint to them directly if they are a sole trader, or to head office, if they are part of a larger organisation. If they are unwilling to complete the work properly or give you a refund or reduction in price, the next step may be to take legal action.

If the job was for less than €2,000, you can follow the Small Claims procedure. Claims can be made for faulty goods, bad workmanship or minor damage to property. The Small Claims procedure is a relatively cheap, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve some types of disputes, generally without having to use a solicitor. The application fee is €25 which you send along with your application form to a district court clerk, called the Small Claims Registrar. The fee is non-refundable, and the service is provided in district court offices.

If your claim is likely to be over €2,000, you can choose to take further legal action against a tradesperson or builder. In this case, you may want to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor.

Return to News

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?