EVERY Saturday, The Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Amanda Cable will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, Maddy Tooke rounds up the best coupons to save you money and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
CAN’T stand the heat? Cut-price revamps are taking away the pain of redoing your kitchen.
Instead of the £7,000 average cost for a new fitted kitchen, you can update what you have got just a few hundred quid.
- Paint your cupboards. The biggest change you can make. Paint over dated shades with dark grey, blue or green, or lighten with bright white. Frenchic’s Al Fresco paint range is hard-wearing and pet-safe, starting at £6.95 for 150ml.
- Revamp handles. They cost from just £1 apiece but can make all the difference. Choose plain metal bars for a simple Shaker style or leather pull-straps for a trendy industrial feel.
- Change the worktop. Wooden surfaces are warm and rustic, while laminates and fake-marble composites feel lux. Try worktopexpress.co.uk for clearance tops from just £40.
- Add an island. Fixed kitchen islands look stunning but at £1,000-plus, the price is staggering too. Instead, snap up a moveable island on wheels. Buy new from £90 at wayfair.co.uk or scour second-hand sites and paint to match your pad.
- Alter splashbacks. Retile with trendy metro tiles or add glass splashbacks for a sleek, modern style. Can be less than £100.
- Pin up pendants. Pendant lights suit most kitchens. Hang over the dining space for the most impact. Try Dunelm and Iconic Lights.
Buy of the week
“WORKINGTON Man” has been pinpointed as the key voting group for the General Election.
If you want to join him and move to the Cumbria town, this modern three-bedroom home, above, can be yours for £179,995.
Find out more at zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/53164707.
Tell the truth
ONE in seven Brits, amazingly, believe it is “reasonable” to exaggerate their income on a mortgage application, according to new research.
A study by fraud prevention service Cifas found fraudulent applications on mortgages have increased by five per cent in the first six months of this year, with almost half of those caught committing application fraud aged 31 to 40.
Cifas’ chief executive, Mike Haley, says: “It’s easy to assume that making exaggerations to improve the chances of your mortgage being approved is harmless.
“But the reality is this is fraud and the consequences can be very serious.”
Deal of the week
HALLOWEEN is over for another year but you can still turn to the dark side.
Dramatic black rugs are a huge trend for winter and this Maestro rug from Argos starts at just £26 for the 80cm x 150cm size.
SAVE: £10 on similar items
Q) I STARTED a new job at the end of July and had to wait nearly six weeks to get my first wage.
My boss withheld £300 because the person before me had left without giving a month’s notice.
I was new in the job and said OK to it. I knew I would get the money when I left, but this month she has withheld another £400, all because that person left without giving enough notice.
She has said I agreed to her keeping £1,000, which I never have, and I have not signed anything to allow her to do this.
Can my boss legally do this? Paula, Surrey
A) Your boss is not legally allowed to withhold your wages. She was not permitted to withhold the £300 from you in the first place.
The fact that somebody left your boss without notice is not your problem.
The bottom line here is that, unless you made very clear that you were volunteering for this business, you are entitled to the entirety of whatever is owed to you – for every single hour that you worked.
As you clearly never agreed to work free of charge, if your boss continues to refuse to pay you what you are owed, she is in breach of strict employment law and may even be criminally liable.
I would write to this woman making clear that you never contracted to work for her without being paid in full and that, if she refuses to pay you, you will be taking her to the small claims court.
This is very easy to do and I cannot foresee a single legal defence your boss would have against your claim. Be tough.
This woman must not be allowed to get away with this.
Q) MY husband and I have separated and have not filed for a formal divorce.
My question is: If anything was to happen to me, would he automatically inherit my property? Is it worth me getting a will ahead of the divorce? Jane, Essex
A) It is critical that you get a will drafted as soon as possible. Do not delay.
If you were to die intestate (without a will), your husband would almost certainly be legally entitled to all of your property, despite you being separated.
The good news is that a will is very easy and relatively inexpensive to complete. Look online for a provider you like.
I would also advise you to get on with obtaining a legal divorce from your husband.
Even if you have a will making clear that he is not to benefit from your property, things could become extremely legally messy if you remain married and die before him.
The result would be that the people you would want to benefit from your property would lose out and you would end up enriching a bunch of lawyers.
Sort your will out now.
Q) I PURCHASED a 20-minute flying lesson in a two-seater helicopter from an adventure company as a present for my husband.
But on the date of the booked lesson, the helicopter didn’t turn up.
I have since emailed the company I booked with who initially blamed their supplier then have subsequently been impossible to contact.
What should I do to get my money back? Rita, Manchester
A) This adventure company are legally bound to provide the flying lesson to your husband or to give you a complete refund within a reasonable period of time.
Find out who the director of this adventure company is (look on the Companies House website) and write to that person at once.
Make clear in your email or letter (sent by recorded delivery) that, unless they return your money or provide the lesson as agreed, you will be taking them to court for breach of contract.
In the meantime, I would strongly urge you to research online whether other people have had similar problems with this company (I suspect they have) and to do what you can to make others aware of the appalling service they have provided.
- Judge Rinder regrets he cannot answer questions personally. Answers intended as general guidance. They do not constitute legal advice and are not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice.
- Got a question for Judge Rinder? Email email@example.com
Mel Hunter, Reader's champion
Q) I BOUGHT a fridge and a freezer from Currys PC World in July last year.
The fridge is fine, but three of the freezer drawers are too small and keep dropping off the runners.
The company sent out two engineers. The first brought new runners, which had nothing to do with the fault.
The next came with the wrong size drawers. He said he would order the right ones so we waited, but nothing happened.
Every time I phone Currys, it has me on my knees taking photos. I’m jumping through hoops while they sit on their backside doing nothing.
Currys had the cheek to tell me to buy the drawers and it would refund the money.
If it can’t get the right drawers what chance do I have? Linda, South Lanarks
A) Currys PC World had left you out in the cold with this freezer problem.
As you reported the issue more than six months after you bought it, the onus was on you to prove it was a manufacturing fault.
But with the drawers clearly falling off the runners, this wasn’t hard.
I discovered the reason it was proving so tricky to resolve is because it was an end-of-the-line appliance.
Currys PC World did offer to replace the freezer, but it would have been with a different model and, as the freezer matched the fridge you’d bought at the same time, you were loath to do this.
Finally the company found the drawers – or so it thought – but when they arrived, they too were the wrong size.
It then offered you a new matching set of fridge and freezer, but you chose to put up with the appliance, while receiving a full refund of £400.
A spokesperson for Currys PC World said: “We have been keen to resolve the issue with Mrs Donnelly’s freezer drawers and sought to provide replacement drawers from the manufacturer as well as offering to replace this particular freezer with an alternative, along with a matching fridge.
“We have agreed with Mrs Donnelly for her to keep the original unit and, as a gesture of goodwill, given a refund of the original purchase price.”
[boxout featured-image="10261485"]Q) I BOOKED a holiday to Prague through lastminute.com but the flight was cancelled and the new offer was to stay for two nights instead of four, so I declined.
Lastminute.com told me I would get a new offer within a week. Three weeks on, when I’d heard nothing, I said I wanted to cancel.
I’m now being told this is not possible until the firm hears from the airline, and that I will lose my deposit and possibly pay a fee. Marie, Leicester
A) You were left to chase this when lastminute.com should have done everything possible to sort it out.
With a firm prod from me, you got your money back, totalling nearly £270, but had to forfeit your planned-for trip, and you’re now wary of booking another one.
A lastminute.com spokesperson said: “As an online travel agency, we are bound to the regulations of the airline and must get confirmation from the airlines before processing booking changes.
“We got the cancellation and refund processed. We apologise if it created confusion.”
- Do you have a consumer issue? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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