Every Saturday, 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 selling your home and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Q)I HAD my nails done at a different nail salon when mine was closed. While having them done they hurt and that night they were so painful. By the next day they were on fire. I went back to complain and the man argued over giving me my money back, then he half snipped my acrylics off, leaving them in a right state and me still in agony.
I had them fixed at my normal place who said it looked like one was infected. The next day I went to my local urgent care centre being given antibiotics as my thumb was seriously infected.
That night I ended up in A&E – they suspected the infection had gone into my blood and had to remove my nail. A doctor said it was either unclean equipment or products that the salon should not have been using.
I now have no thumbnail and it’s still painful a month later. I have been back to the salon but the owner refuses to give me his public insurance details, saying he doesn’t have any. I feel they were negligent and caused injury. What rights do I have?
A)It sounds to me that you have a good chance of proving this salon caused your injury. If the technician used unclean equipment they were not only legally negligent to you but may be putting others at serious risk.
It is appalling that the nail shop appears not to have insurance, but this is not the end of the matter as far as you are concerned. If you obtain a judgment against them, they will either have to find the money to pay you or shut the business down.
Although the compensation you might receive for the loss of your nail and the infection is unlikely to be a great deal, I really must emphasise that you could be saving others serious injury.
There are a number of personal injury lawyers who I suspect would be prepared to accept this case. I would urge you to get in touch with one as soon as possible.
Q)DURING my time working for my previous employer I got some Amazon gift vouchers as a reward for hitting a certain target. I recently tried to redeem them but even though they have not expired, Amazon said they had been refunded to the person who bought them.
I believe my previous employer did this because I left. Is this fair? I don’t believe I should be stripped of my bonus just because I left.
A)That is utterly disgraceful. Unless these vouchers were a performance-related bonus promised in your contract then, in law, they were a gift. As soon as they were handed over to you they became your property and your employer was not legally entitled to take them back without your permission.
Unless the vouchers were over £200 in value, the cost of a legal action against your employer (in terms of money and time) would make bringing a claim pointless.
On the other hand, your employer has behaved vindictively and unlawfully. I would write to the director of the company making clear that you are considering legal action unless the vouchers are returned.
Q)MY DAUGHTER and her husband took out a Deed of Trust together when they purchased their house. It was all my daughter’s money which was used as a deposit. Now they are divorcing after nearly 20 years, owing to his behaviour.
Their copy of the Deed has disappeared. The solicitor has moved premises and destroyed his copy. Emails were not used at that time, so no electronic evidence is available.
The Land Registry has a document stating they are tenants in common and making reference to a Deed of Trust, but it cannot be found. Is there anywhere else this legal document may have been registered so that we might get a copy?
A)I doubt it is stored somewhere else, but all is not lost. Given the Land Registry makes reference to the Deed, there can be no dispute that one existed. If there is any dispute, your daughter and the solicitor could provide an affidavit explaining what it included.
It doesn’t sound as if it was complicated, so try not to panic.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
FRAUD victims conned into transferring cash to criminals will get a refund from our biggest banks under a voluntary code launched this week. But those planning to rent a home have been warned to take extra care to avoid losing money.
Experts have said that “rental property fraud” is rising, with victims losing about £1,396 each on average.
Would-be tenants are tricked into paying a fee to rent a property that does not belong to the person advertising it. In some cases the home does not exist as conmen use fake photos for online adverts.
Mark White, of fraud prevention experts Reassura, said: “Those who fall for it often pay an upfront fee to secure a property or maybe even their deposit and rent, leaving them unable to afford to put down a deposit on a genuine home.”
The latest report by Action Fraud puts the cost of rental fraud at £918million a year, up from £769million. Here are Mark’s tips to avoid falling victim:
- Always view a property before making payments.
- Ask to see gas and electricity safety certificates.
- If the deal is too good to be true, it’s likely a scam.
- If someone pressurises you to pay right away, this is often the sign of a con.
- Use well-known agents where possible.
- Pay by credit card, which offers more protection.
- Check if your deposit is protected by entering your tenancy deposit code on the Tenancy Deposit Scheme website at bit.ly/2MidJDQ
Buy of the week
WHAT’S occurring in the Gavin & Stacey property market? Following news that the sitcom is returning for Christmas, fast sale estate agent Springbok Properties has checked on property prices in Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Billericay, Essex, where the characters live.
In Wales, the West family would have enjoyed a 30 per cent hike in the value of their terrace home to £176,500, while the Shipmans’ detatched house in Essex is worth £554,699, up 71 per cent.
You can buy this two-bed Billericay for £269,995 by heading to Rightmove at bit.ly/2Z0hDm2.
GOOD news if you are hoping to get a new mortgage. The first three months of the year have seen more loan applications convert into offers than at any time in the last three years.
The figures from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) reveal 89 per cent of applicants were offered their home loan, up from 76 per cent in 2016, before the EU referendum took place.
Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, comments: “The mortgage market is not immune from the current Brexit chaos – but it is keeping calm and getting on with the business of helping people finance their home purchases.”
Deal of the week
LAY down the lawn this weekend for a garden as pristine as a Champions League Final pitch.
Carpetright’s Lindale artificial grass was £14.99 per square metre, now down to £11.99.
SAVE: £3 per square metre
Mel Hunter, Reader’s champion
Q)OUR monthly payments of £63 to energy supplier E.on were reduced to £10 from April 2017 to April 2018 as we were told we were in credit by nearly £390.
Then in May last year, we got a bill of £3,248, and told our direct debit would rise to £430 a month. We complained and have settled on £197 a month. But I disagree with these charges and seem to recall a previous issue a few years back when we were put on the wrong tariff.
Lisa Curtis, Tollesbury, Essex
A)Most people would have gone into meltdown when faced with an unexpected bill of more than £3,000 but you remained cool as a cucumber.
It did not take long for E.on to hold its hands up, reduce your monthly payments and wipe the £3,000 bill, which appears to stem back to a billing problem years ago.
A spokesman said: “Clearly we got things wrong on Mrs Curtis’s account.”
Q)IN NOVEMBER 2017 we bought a trampoline from Sports Direct for our grandchildren. It was put up in May last year and dismantled in November for the winter. While we were taking it down, a leg broke off at the welding point.
We complained but Sports Direct said it was out of the warranty period and could not help us.
But we replied, saying that having broken after six months’ use, we did not feel the item was fit for purpose, and that children using it could have been seriously injured.
Eventually, Sports Direct said it would send replacement parts but that was nearly two months ago and we have heard nothing since.
Jenny Fildes, Swanage, Dorset
A)You were correct. Under the Consumer Rights Act, an item should last for a reasonable length of time, and it is reasonable to expect garden equipment like this to last longer than six months, especially as it hadn’t been up during the winter.
Furthermore, Sports Direct appeared to have accepted there was a fault, but had still not sent the relevant part. I nudged the retail giant and I am pleased to say it jumped into action. A new trampoline arrived within a fortnight, along with a £50 voucher. Happy bouncing.
Q)A COUPLE of years ago, Toto Energy installed a smart meter in my property.
I then moved to EDF but have been unable to give it a gas reading as the display is impossible to get to. I asked both Toto and EDF for help. They promised to get back to me but I’m still waiting.
Chris Matchett Catterick, North Yorks
A)Fed up of waiting for this to be resolved and keen to reap the financial rewards of switching suppliers, you moved your account to Bulb Energy.
MOST READ IN MONEY
It meant that both Toto, which had installed the meter the wrong way round, and EDF, your next supplier, were off the hook, and I turned to Bulb to sort things out.
It sent a National Grid engineer who completed the work within a fortnight.
Toto told me that this kind of incident – installing a meter back to front – is rare – and so it should be!
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