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Consumer - Tina Tackles!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

All year we've been getting so many emails, calls, facebook messages and texts with questions for Tina about all things consumer. Until now Tina has answered them to the best of her ability and allowed the viewer to try to remedy their issue with Tina's advice.

Now we are taking it a step further. Every Tuesday Tina will be taking on one viewer's consumer query. The viewer's will be chosen on the basis that they have tried everything except the small claims court and still haven't received a satisfactory conclusion to their consumer dilemma.

This week Suzanne from Galway will be in studio to tell us her consumer issue in relation to a very expensive dress that she left into the cleaners, which she has never been able to collect. Full story below.

At the end of the item, we would like to appeal for viewers to write in if they have a consumer query for Tina that they haven't been able to get an answer to. In the New Year every Tuesday Tina will be taking on one viewer's consumer issue in the hope that she can investigate further and get some answers.

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

You can send your letters to:

TINA TACKLES
The Afternoon Show

RTE
Donnybrook
Dublin 4

Or

Send an email to emails@theafternoonshow.ie


Tina Leonard, our consumer expert

THE PROBLEM

Suzanne from Galway contacted the show by email early December. Here is her original email:

Hi Tina
I have an issue with a dry cleaner in which they claim that a dress belonging to myself has gone missing and can't be found. They have admitted that my dress and other items had been stolen during transit from Galway to Cork. They requested a receipt from me for the value of the dress which I produced to them. The dress is worth 585 euro and is a year old.
The dry cleaners have told me that there insurance company will not cover the cost of the dress as the dry cleaners never reported it stolen. The dry cleaners are claiming they cannot afford to reimburse me themselves. Where do I stand on this situation, is it possible to take these people to the small claims court?
I would appreciate any advice or information you can give me
Suzanne, Galway

Tina gave Suzanne some advice as below:

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.
Go back to the dry cleaners with the receipt for the dress and 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 from this, then it's time to take small claim action. This will cost a €15 non-refundable fee. You can apply online at www.courts.ie.

Suzanne followed this advice and on 22nd Dec hand delivered a letter to the dry cleaners, which stated her rights under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act and asking for a minimum of €400 compensation. She also supplied a copy of the receipt for the dress to the dry cleaners.

We will have a copy of Suzanne's letter to the dry cleaners in studio as a hard copy
Suzanne's Letter:

Suzanne has heard nothing and cannot reach the owner (Kevin) of the dry cleaners by phone. It is time for Tina to intervene.

The solution

Given that Suzanne is entitled to compensation for the loss of her dress, Tina contacted the shop owner and spoke to him on Wed 6th January.

Kevin, the owner of the dry cleaners claims that in fact items of clothing belonging to nine customers had been stolen from the premises. He said that the Garda report had not yet been completed and this was required before he could file a compensation claim with his insurers. He would do this as soon as he could and when he received his compensation he would compensate Suzanne and the other customers whose clothes are missing.

Statement from Kevin, owner of the dry cleaners:
"The case is going through the insurance company and whether or not they pay out, this customer will be refunded".

Tina pointed out that the reason behind the missing clothes or the business's application to their insurance company is of no concern to the customers.

Their property went missing while in the care of the dry cleaners and so they are entitled to be compensated without delay.

The issue of the dry cleaner's liability is not in question. Kevin agrees that his business is liable for the customers' compensation and that he would pay it - but not until his own insurance claim had been settled.

He added that he had been in business for 30 years and never had any claims against him in the past.

What now?

No one knows how long it will take for the dry cleaner's compensation claim from their insurers to come through, so it is unacceptable to ask Suzanne to wait in this way.

Suzanne's last port of call is now to submit a small claims application to the local district court. This is a very simple procedure.

It will cost her a non-refundable fee of €15 and requires a one page application which Tina will help her with.

Suzanne should add a copy of the letter she sent to the dry cleaners and a copy of the receipt, and confirm that she is seeking compensation and for what amount.

We will keep in touch with Suzanne to see what happens next.

How the small claims court works:

Important notes re small claims:
. You must have the correct legal entity on the form (i.e. something Ltd), and not just the trading name.
. The small claims registrar will contact the business and try for an amicable solution but if this doesn't work, your case will go to court.
. The small claims procedure might only sit once a month or even once every two months, so there may be delays.

Tina Leonard
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