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Consumer - Tina answers viewer's queries

Thursday, 17 December 2009

All year we've been getting so many emails, calls, facebook messages and texts with questions for Tina about all things consumer. Of course Tina doesn't get to answer everyone's queries in the phone ins so we have shown Tina some of the queries that came in over the last two months and Tina is going to try to answer some of them. Some of the queries required further investigation so Tina has been working on them prior to the item and some Tina was able to answer straight away.

If you would like Tina to take on a consumer query, complaint or puzzling question please contact us.

You can send your letters to:

The Afternoon Show
Dublin 4


Send an email to

Tina Leonard, our consumer expert

Is it possible for your show to clarify the situation regarding gift vouchers, and our rights? Is it legal for stores to put an expiry date on a voucher?

Tina's answer:

There is no consumer law governing gift vouchers specifically. This means that you must agree with whatever terms and conditions the store puts on the voucher should you choose to buy it. This includes the expiry date.

When I was on maternity leave the computer was left on during the day and I racked up a huge bill. I rang Eircom to see if they did not have to inform that this amount of money was being accumulated and they said that they were not under any obligation to contact me. My point is I never run up bills like this and now I have to pay so much coming up to Christmas. Is there anything I can do?

Tina's answer:

Tina contacted Eircom on behalf of Maura and this is what they said:
We have investigated Ms. Gowan's query. It is clear there was increased usage on her account during August and October. Eircom would like to apologise to Ms. Gowan for not proactively alerting her of this increased usage and not advising her of the costing structure for excess usage.
We have, as a gesture of goodwill, written off the outstanding amount of €319.79 + VAT.

I booked flights with an Irish airline and am now not able to go. Should I be able to get a refund of the taxes without any more charges?

Tina's answer:

You are entitled to a refund of the taxes when you don't travel. However, Aer Lingus charge an admin fee of €20 each way so you'll have to work out whether it is worth your while to do so. I consider the admin fee to be unfair (most airlines do it). The customer would receive €33.51 of a refund, if they were to cancel the booking. Total taxes are €73.51 less the refund administration fee of €20 per sector (€40) = €33.51. Baggage Fees unfortunately would not be reimbursed.
Secondly the taxes and changes paid exclude optional baggage charges etc so he will not be able to get his baggage charge of €30 back.

Hi can you please tell me if I go to the North to buy a TV or Computer what happens with regards the warranty if something breaks down? Bearing in mind that I would be exporting the product to the Republic from the United Kingdom.

Tina's answer:

If you buy an item with a warranty in another jurisdiction you should always check if the warranty covers the Republic as well as the North as it may not. However, regardless of whether you have a manufacturers warranty or not, the shop where you bought it is still legally obliged to repair, replace or refund if the item is/becomes faulty. If you can't put it in the post, like a TV or computer then you do have to take into account the costs of travelling back to the shop. If you have problems getting a cross-border consumer complaint sorted the European Consumer Centre can help,

I left a dress into a dry cleaners to be cleaned and they told me that it was stolen. I bought it a year ago and it cost €585. The dry cleaners have told me that their insurance company will not cover the cost of the dress as the dry cleaners never reported it stolen. Even though I have shown them the receipt they said they cannot afford to reimburse me themselves. Where do I stand?

Tina's answer:

It doesn't matter how the dress went missing etc. The dry cleaners are responsible for your dress and you have a receipt to prove they had it. As they did not carry out the service with "due care and diligence" you are entitled to compensation for the cost of the dress. I would suggest a little less that the cost price of €585 as it is a year old.

You will need to get proof of the cost of the dress, either from a credit card statement, receipt or a written statement from the shop where you bought it. Give this with a letter to the dry cleaners saying you are looking for a stated amount and quoting the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980.

If you do not get a favourable response form this, then it's time to take small claim action. This will cost a €15 non-refundable fee. You can apply online at