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The Afternoon Show
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Consumer - Tina Tackles!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

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.

Tina will step in on behalf of the viewer and make contact with the company/business to try to resolve the dispute.

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

Consumer Query 1:-

Three years ago John purchased a Laptop from Dell, an Inspiron 1501. At the time he purchased the laptop he was encouraged to take out an extended warranty for two years - so he did.

John's Account:

1. When my system arrived there was a problem, the screen was cracked, so I rang Dell and they sent somebody out to replace the screen. I also noticed that a number of the keys on the key-pad were loose and kept popping out of place.

2. Just after one year of use the hard drive crashed. As the system was under warranty Dell sent out another hard drive and talked me through the installation step by step.

3. Approximately six months after that (a year and a half after purchase) the battery on my system died. I rang Dell and complained and said that I wanted a replacement, they refused and said that even though my battery was not covered by the warranty as a gesture of good will they would replace it.

4. Then those loose buttons, which I had previously pushed back into place, permanently fell off. I rang dell yet again and they sent out a new keep board, which yet again I had to install myself, with step-by-step instructions only this time they were sent to me through email.

5. Three weeks ago my hard drive crashed again. I phoned dell and they informed me that as my warranty had expired that I would have to pay for another one (approx €130) and that I would also have to pay a fee (approx €30 - €40) for talking to a technical support agent who would have to look at my computer.

6. Contacted consumer advice and learned that I was entitled to repair, replacement or refund from the seller under Sale of Goods and Supply of Services act regardless of warranty. I contacted dell and said I want a full refund or replacement, and I was put on hold for more than two hours, when I finally got in contact with somebody from customer service they transferred me to a technical support agent who told me he would have to transfer me.

Eventually after three hours I got in contact with a manager of a various department who escalated the problem to a customer relations worker. The customer relations guy phoned me and said that I would have to pay for repair myself. I informed him that under the Sale of Goods act 1980 that goods should be of merchantable quality and should be fit for purpose intended etc, but to no avail.


When John bought the lap-top it should have been of "merchantable quality".
The lap-top has already been repaired twice, for two different faults, and now, three years after purchase the first fault (a crashed hard drive) has occurred again. It is reasonable to expect that the lap-top should still work, and John should now be offered a second repair or more. Although his warranty is up, his consumer rights are still in place and the company is responsible for providing a remedy, assuming the product is faulty.

Dell Response:

"Dell regrets the fact that a customer has had an experience that did not meet Dell's high standards. While Dell has met its legal obligations in this matter, given the unfortunate series of incidents experienced in this particular case by Mr. May and as a one off gesture of goodwill, Dell will provide either a replacement system and waive the cost or alternatively offer a full refund on his system. "

We will then have John's response. Dell contacted John already (which we asked them not to do) but he is delighted with the outcome anyway. He does wish however that this was something that he could have sorted himself and not had to go to the media to get satisfactory results.

Consumer Query 2:-

I bought a laptop in an electrical shop in Cork last April for €474, I didn't even have the laptop 6months and the charger broke, I went back with my receipt and explained that the charger was broke and the man behind the counter said that he couldn't do anything because the charger is not included in the guarantee yet they never explained this to me when I bought it, can I do anything about this?

Tina's Response:

"When you buy something that turns out to be faulty the shop where you bought is has a legal obligation to provide a remedy under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. This is in addition to any warranty you may have with the manufacturer, so the fact that Amanda has no warranty for the charger is not an issue.

Assuming the charger is faulty, Amanda is entitled to a repair, replacement or refund and this should be given by the shop. If they say no to this request, put the complaint in writing, citing your entitlements and requesting a specific solution."

Consumer Query 3:-

She bought a leather suite about 16 months ago and the colour is coming off it. The owner of the shop asked her to come in, fill out some forms and return them to the shop. Trisha is going to ask for a refund rather than a replacement as she is afraid the same thing will happen again. Can she demand a refund?

Tina's Response:

The shop is obliged to offer a remedy if the fabric of the sofa is faulty. After 16 months I would suggest Trisha sees if a repair is possible first. If it isn't or a repair doesn't work, then Trisha can ask for a replacement or a refund and she will have to negotiate this with the shop.

Consumer Query 4:-

I wonder if Tina could let me know if there is an Ombudsman service that I could contact regarding a problem I have been having with my Digital TV Service Provider. The background is too detailed to mention but if she could point me in the right direction that would be great.

Tina's Response:

It depends what the problem with the TV service provider is. The Telecommunications Regulator (COMREG) accepts complaints that haven't been resolved with the provider but this would only relate to the transmission itself. If the complaint relates to a contract term for example, then Cathleen will have to write her complaint to the company and if she has a valid complaint that cannot be resolved, then take small claims action.

Consumer Query 5:-

I bought a phone in November online and in January it stopped working. The shop asked me to post it back and I did so on January 13th by registered post. It has nearly been six weeks and after many phone calls I still have no phone returned to me. What is a reasonable amount of time to expect to wait for something to be repaired?

Tina's Response:

I think Matthew has already waited long enough, unless the shop specified that repair would take a certain (long) length of time and he agreed to that. Matthew should put his complaint in writing to the trader asking that the phone be returned fixed or for a replacement.

Consumer Query 6:-

I recently saw a special offer of a Free Round of Golf at one of the top golf courses in Ireland when you fill out a survey on their website. I filled out the survey along with my dad and brother and was sent a voucher. When we rang up to book on Saturday we were told we could not avail of this offer as they had so many applicants and that there were no more free slots available. Do we have any rights here?

Tina's Response:

Not really. I am aware that this voucher said that there was limited availability and this covers then when it comes to advertising a free gift as they qualified that free gift offer with information about limited availability.

Consumer Query 7:-

I bought a television over 3 years ago. It cost €1049 euro. It was guaranteed for 12 months; unfortunately it broke down about six weeks ago. The shop where we bought it have informed us they cannot repair it and have sent it to Galway to be fixed. They say it will cost us €150 to repair, do we have to pay this or have we any rights?

Tina's Response:

You should not have to pay for repair as the shop still has a legal obligation to remedy a faulty product. This is separate to the protection under any manufacturer's warranty you had.