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Consumer - Tina Tackles!

Tuesday, 26 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

Kim Mc Donald had problems with a TV she bought four years ago. As she had spent a lot of money on the television (€1000) she thought she was entitled to some kind of come back.

What's good about this story is that many consumers wouldn't think that they would be entitled to any comeback once the warranty expires and after such a long period of time.

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:
The Afternoon Show
Dublin 4


Send an email to

Who is the guest?
. Tina Leonard, our consumer expert
. Kim Mc Donald, Savvy Consumer

The problem

Kim McDonald bought a Philips LCD TV in Arnotts for €1,000 four years ago. It worked fine until about one month ago when the image on the screen started to scramble. Even when she plays a DVD the image scrambles, meaning it isn't an issue with the cable/signal but with the TV itself.
She went back to Arnotts to complain and they gave her the manufacturer's number and told her to call them. She did and they were helpful in that over the phone they talked her through re-installing the channels as they thought that would remedy the situation but it didn't. So then they told her to get a TV mechanic to take a look at it at her own expense. Kim's warranty with the manufacturer had only lasted one year so was long expired.
Kim contacted the Afternoon Show at this point as she was about to pay for a TV repair technician and wanted to know if she should do so at her own expense.

Kim's Original Email:

Hi Tina,
My query is in relation to my LCD tv which I purchased from a leading department store about four years ago. My warranty expired after one year and now I am having problems with the picture. Over the past month I have experienced a problem with the right hand side of the screen scrambling when the tv has been switched on for a while.
I contacted the department store and they gave me the number for the manufacturer. I then called the manufacturer who tried to help me fix it over the phone by getting me to reinstall the channels but when this wasn't successful they suggested I call a tv repair technician at my own expense.
The tv originally cost about 1000 euros before discount and I'm wondering if I have any recourse with the manufacturer or department store as the tv is no longer fit for the purpose it was originally purchased for and I would expect it to last longer than four years considering the price I paid.
I want to make sure I have checked all avenues of recourse before I bring it to a tv repair technician as I think one the tv has been tampered with I will have no comeback at all.
Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards,
Kim McDonald

Tina says

The fact that the manufacturer's warranty is up isn't the end of the world as Kim still has her legal rights under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. So Arnotts are still liable to remedy.

Even though four years have passed since the purchase, anyone would expect that the expensive TV would still be in perfect working order. Furthermore, under the Irish statute of limitations you have 6 years to make a claim under consumer law.
However, bear in mind that as time goes on your rights will become more limited. In this case, after 4 years Kim should get a repair, rather than replacement or refund.

The solution

I initially contacted Arnotts who explained that a separate company called Briscoe ran the electrical department. Talking to Briscoe's manager Eamonn, he explained that they had only been in Arnotts 18 months. However, they had taken over any liabilities in relation to previous customers.

The Manager agreed that the TV should still work after four years and that they would resolve the issue.

"Expert Arnotts are part of the Expert Group with over 60 retail outlets in Ireland, we strive here as we do all our Branches to give what we call The Arnotts Shopping Experience. And I would like to think we provide that both now and in the future.
I have arranged for the unit to be collected from the customer tomorrow (Fri 22nd). I have offered the customer a loan unit but she does not feel it necessary as it is not her main set. If the customer decides at a later stage to take up this offer we will happily oblige.

Due to the time frame involved with you going to air on Tuesday it would appear unlikely that we will have an update of the status of the repair by then, but please be assured we will do everything possible to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion".

So what will Briscoe do if the television cannot be repaired:

(Statement from Briscoe)

'I have spoken to Philips this morning and they have confirmed that if the unit in question cannot be repaired it will be replaced.
I hope you can pass this news on to Kim, on our behalf.
As soon as I have an update on the status of the repair, I will forward same to you'.

One More Consumer Query

A female viewer from Sligo called into the show.
She is a single apartment owner occupier (60 years old) and wants to know are there any regulations or is there a regulator for bad management companies?

She is one of 3 owner occupiers living in a 12 apt complex, pays €600 a year and says her management company guy does nothing and wants to know is there anything she can do about it?

Tina's advice

There certainly is something she can do as, as an owner, she is a member of the management company and has a say.

Usually the developer will initially set up a management company when construction begins. Once someone buys an apartment they become a member of that company. Once all units are sold sometimes the development company moves out and the owners operate the company themselves or hire someone to do it. Other times, the developer retains a large shareholding and continues running the management company.

As a member you are entitled to:
. Adequate notification of the company's general meetings
. Timely information about the company's operations and finances
. Participate and vote in the annual general meeting (AGM)
You are also entitled to inspect and obtain copies of:
. The company's Memorandum and Articles of Association
. Minutes of general meetings of the company and resolutions
. Various registers kept by the company, including the register of members and the register of directors and secretaries and their interests
. Periodic financial statements, directors' reports and auditors' reports about the company's financial affairs.
. The company must hold a general meeting at least once a year, and all members must be invited to attend. It must also file an annual return with the Companies Registration Office; this must contain certain fundamental information about the company and its financial activities.

So, whatever type of management company this woman has, as an owner she is a member and has the legal right to access to the above information. She should request it and take a look at the income and how the money is being spent on upkeep.
If she doesn't like it, she could voice her opinions at the next meeting, or as maybe there are no meetings! she could arrange a meeting with other owners to discuss together what they want to do.

They could then approach whoever runs the management company to formally complain about the guy and give a list of what improvements they want, or for example, they could call an EGM of the management company and ask for him to be fired and hired someone else, or they could fire the management company (assuming it's an outside body they have hired), and hire a new one.

She should also take a look at a site ll about management companies run by the NCA, or she should contact them for their comprehensive booklet on a Guide to Management Companies.