THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
RENOVATING your property is never easy on the pockets – so make the most of this Cyber Weekend to hunt down a serious bargain.
To find the best deals and sales tips, we have teamed up with top Instagram interiors influencer Rey Willis, from instagram.com/thewillishome.
Rey says: “If you have a passion for interiors like me, this is the best time of the year to shop for products. Whether it’s a small update or items for a major renovation, today is the day to make that save.”
FLOORING: This is one of the biggest expenses in any home update, so buy now and store it until you need it.
Big-name brands such as Carpetright, Flooring Superstore, Wickes and UK Flooring Direct are offering up to 50 per cent off. Look at multi-purpose lino for halls, bathrooms and kitchens.
SHUTTERS AND BLINDS: Dressing your windows makes a major difference to a room and it is something you can do even in a rented property.
For the best deals, do the measuring yourself and book online. I’ve spotted 20 per cent off shutters and up to 70 per cent slashed from the cost of blinds at The Shutter Studio, Blinds Direct and Hillarys.
CHILDREN’S ROOMS: Kids grow and the things they like change so fast, so it pays to be economical with room updates.
Artwork, wooden toys and simple accessories are all you need to transform a look while keeping the base elements the same. My1styears.com and juniqe.co.uk have a stunning but affordable selection.
SIMPLE SWITCHES: Upgrade your home’s style for less than £50 with a new mirror, light or soft furnishings. Wayfair.co.uk is a one-stop shop. I love the Letizia floor lamp and Gilbert throw.
BIG BUYS: Grab a great deal on big home appliances such as cookers and vacuums. If your old one is still working, you might be able to find a trade-in deal and cut costs further.
Buy of the week
THE Cornish town of St Ives has been named the nation’s happiest place to live, according to Rightmove.
Put a smile on your face with this two-bed beachside flat, on sale for £229,000 at zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/55492394.
EVER shelved the idea of putting up shelves? If so, you are not alone.
Research from homehow.co.uk reveals putting up shelving is the DIY job British people are most likely to ditch, with 54 per cent of us giving up the job.
More than half have scrapped painting walls and fences, while 52 per cent got fed up with trying to hang wallpaper.
Deal of the week
A NAVY blue kettle looks smart in any kitchen.
This premium retro model is just £22.99 at aldi.co.uk.
SAVE: £12 on similar items elsewhere.
Judge Rinder, legal expert
Q) MY mother had a Post Office account with £550 in it. She died five years ago.
I have no paperwork in relation to the account apart from a letter informing her that her account had not been used for some time.
I thought that I would leave the money to accumulate, as I was working at the time.
I am retired now and the money would be useful. How do I go about claiming it? Rick, Redcar
A) I understand that you didn’t need the money when your mother died but leaving money just sitting in that account was unwise as banks and building societies may freeze accounts once they are notified of a death.
Assuming you were the sole beneficiary of your late mother’s estate, you will need to notify the Post Office of what has happened and (if your mum had a will) you will need to provide them with a certified death certificate along with the will naming you as the beneficiary.
If there was no will, you will simply need to provide the Post Office with documents proving you are your late mother’s next of kin, which should be pretty straightforward.
The Post Office website makes clear what documents are required to do this.
Car fix gaffe
Q) I TOOK my car to be repaired in March. The garage changed the part but needed an auto electrician to programme it.
However, the auto electrician said the part could not be programmed because the garage had wrongly disposed of an electronic unit.
He said that it would cost £1,500 to try to rectify the issue but there is only a 50 per cent chance the car will be repaired, so it would be better if I scrap the car.
He said the garage is definitely at fault. The garage has offered to give me a replacement car but it is older.
If I insist on them repairing my car and it does not work where do I stand? Josie, Durham
A) The garage who negligently disposed of the part are legally required to pay for a complete repair of the vehicle or to compensate you in full for the value of the car or to offer you a replacement car worth the same value (or more).
Write to the garage boss making clear they can attempt the repair but if this fails (as you have been warned), you will be expecting one of the remedies I have set out.
Do not be pushed around. The law is on your side.
Q) MY partner and I have bought a new-build house from a small developer. On the site there are five houses and next door are two flats.
However, the owner of the ground-floor flat offered to buy the communal garden for £10,000 and the developer agreed. He then put a gate on for her, which has a lock.
Now our only access through our gate is to her garden, which she is not happy about and we can’t get round the back of our house.
We have written to the developer who said it’s nothing to do with him and we should take an injunction out on the owner of the ground-floor flat.
We don’t want to do this, as she is not to blame, this is the fault of the developer. What are our next steps? Elaine, Reading
A) This developer appears to have sold your neighbour land despite clearly knowing that it would restrict your right of access to the property he sold you first.
If this is correct, he is seriously in the wrong. Moreover, the lawyers who drew up the legal papers transferring the communal garden to your neighbour may also be liable for what has happened.
You are correct that this entire problem was not caused by your neighbour so she may well be entitled to refuse you access to her land.
You could try to persuade your neighbour to restore your access in the short term but this is not a long-term solution.
Get some legal clarity as to the right of way you signed for when you bought your home as it is of significant value. I would urge you in the strongest possible terms to obtain advice from a solicitor in this matter.
If this developer has behaved as badly as I suspect, you may be able to obtain any legal fees back from him.
- Judge Rinder regrets he cannot answer questions personally. Answers intended as general guidance. They do not constitute legal advice and are not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice.
Mel Hunter, readers' champion
Q) WE are two pensioners with vulnerabilities and are trying to cancel the break we booked with Sunshine Holidays. We have paid a £250 deposit and will owe another £1,150.
We have been trying to cancel it for three months, but when I ring it is a recorded message.
All we want is to dump this holiday and stop them taking the balance. We are too scared to go away and can’t afford to lose this money. RAY MERKITT, Broxbourne, Herts
A) My first concern was to make it really clear to you that if you cancelled the holiday, you would lose your £250 deposit.
If you waited and Sunshine – part of On The Beach Travel – ended up cancelling, you would get all your money back.
But you were absolutely sure. I got through to Sunshine in the nick of time and got the trip cancelled, so the balance wasn’t taken from your account.
You were relieved and told me: “Knowing it’s over feels like a holiday in itself.”
Q) IN July 2019, we bought a leather sofa from Oak Furnitureland, but 11 months later, while cleaning it with the product supplied, we noticed the colour flaking off the headrest.
Oak Furnitureland finally agreed to exchange the sofa and to deliver the replacement on August 21 this year.
This did not happen and a further five delivery dates have been cancelled, apparently because of the pandemic. ALLAN OLIVER, Nuneaton, Warks
A) Each missed delivery caused you huge upheaval and after a long battle, you really had had enough. I asked Oak Furnitureland to sort out a date and stick to it.
You finally got your sofa, which had been upgraded to include electric headrests. The shop also refunded ten per cent of the price as a goodwill gesture.
A spokesman said: “We understand the frustration of the customer and these repeated delays do not meet our high standards as a business.”
Q) IN February we booked a New Year break with coach tour firm Shearings and paid a deposit of £200. Shearings then went into liquidation.
The Bonded Coach Holiday scheme advised me to make a claim with our card provider, Barclays.
Barclays credited our account with £200 while investigating, but without any explanation, it has taken the money back.
I wrote asking for an explanation but have been ignored. COLIN REGESTER, Fakenham, Norfolk
A) The Bonded Coach Holiday scheme was advising that you make a Section 75 claim through the credit card company or a chargeback claim through the bank.
But when you did the latter, Barclays stood in your way. I asked for the bank to reconsider.
This time they saw sense and refunded you, along with an extra £100 for the inconvenience caused.
A Barclays spokesman said: “We apologise that on this occasion our customers didn’t receive the level of service they can expect.
“Following a review we can confirm the monies have been returned with a gesture of goodwill.”
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