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 buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
HOUSEHOLDS are braced for a plague of fleas and ticks.
Experts blame soaring numbers on a combination of the warm weather and an explosion in the number of pets bought during lockdown.
The critters can harbour dangerous infections such as Lyme disease, so take action to protect your home now. Here’s how.
Bugs easy as one, two, flea
- Wash soft furnishings and pet bedding at the hottest possible setting – a minimum of 60°C. If the infestation is severe, throw away and buy new.
- Steam clean carpets and upholstery. Give extra attention to places where pets like to lie.
- Use a powerful vacuum on floors, upholstery and mattresses. Vacuuming may encourage flea pupae to hatch, so clean extra regularly.
- Clear out any cracks and tight spaces with a specialist vacuum tool. Got a vacuum with a bag? Seal and throw the bag away.
- Consider household flea treatment. You can buy specialist insecticides to treat your furniture and carpet as well as your pet.
- Mow your lawn regularly as fleas hide in long grass. Bag the contents, don’t put them on your compost pile.
- Remove debris like leaf litter and dead twigs. Rake your lawn and expose as much of the garden to sunlight as possible. Consider spreading cedar chips on areas your pet likes to lie down.
Buy of the week
GREEN fingered? Stoke-on-Trent has been revealed as the nation’s top town for gardeners, with more than 90 per cent of homes having some private outdoor space.
This two-bed terrace has a huge front garden and a secluded rear garden. It’s on the market for just £140,000 at zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/60003683.
RENTERS wait an average of 41 days for landlords to fix any maintenance issues, says research from Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors.
Damp is the most common problem, followed by heating and hot water breakdowns.
The firm’s Farzana Chowdhury said: “It is inevitable that issues may occur, but if the landlord deals with these in a timely manner then the tenant is often satisfied.”
Deal of the week
CANE you find anything more on-point to update your home? This bent cane anti-bacterial mirror with shelf is just £60 at Dunelm.com.
SAVE: £15 on similar versions elsewhere
Judge Rinder, legal expert
‘‘Shop took back faulty bed but didn’t cancel credit deal. Now finance firm is chasing us and it’s hit our credit rating’’
Q) MY wife and I bought a bed but when it was delivered it was faulty. The bed shop agreed to take it back.
We had bought it on interest-free credit, and if we had not returned the bed, the first payment would have been due six weeks after delivery.
As we didn’t have the bed, we assumed this would be cancelled. The bed shop had agreed to sort it out with the finance firm.
However, it seems the shop did not send the papers of cancellation and the finance company has been chasing us for the money in arrears ever since.
It reported the debt to the credit reference agency and says we will have bad credit if we apply for any loans or mortgage. What can we do?
A) This is utterly disgraceful. The company you purchased the bed from was legally required to cancel the finance agreement as soon as you returned it (within 14 days).
There are a number of steps you can take but first and foremost you need to be tough. Find out who the managing director of this bed company is and email them at the same time as the finance company.
Make clear in your correspondence that unless the debt is cancelled you will be reporting the matter to the Financial Ombudsman and, given the circumstances, are considering bringing a civil claim for harassment. This should do the trick.
Q) I HAVE a new flat with its own parking space. Recently, I parked in the specified space, but my parking permit was on the armrest between the two front seats.
It was not on the dashboard, but it was clearly visible.
The next day I was issued with a parking fine of £100. I appealed, saying I would not pay for parking in the bay that belongs to me. But I was turned down and now have a fine for £160.
I think this is so unfair – the parking signs say a permit must be on display but do not specify where. Can I take this to court?
A) A parking warden should be able to see a permit easily, so the word “display” does imply that it needs to be easily visible.
On the other hand, it sounds to me that a very basic look into your car would have clearly shown that you had a valid permit, which means you may have a chance of appealing this.
Because this ticket was issued on private land, you need to check that the company that issued the penalty is part of an approved operator scheme (many are) and find out online what independent appeals service it is signed up to.
The appeals process is straightforward and pretty stress-free. It should not cost you anything and the worst outcome will be that you end up having to pay the full fine.
It’s so tyresome
Q) MY dad hit a pothole in his car. It damaged the tyre, which cost £80 to replace. I took photos of the pothole and sent them to the council, with a copy of the invoice.
They have refused to compensate him stating that they had received no other reports about the pothole from anyone else. Is there any way we can proceed with this claim?
Mark, High Wycombe
A) The council are under a legal obligation to maintain public roads to a safe standard which means, in principle, if your car is damaged by a pothole (a serious hazard) you should be able to claim compensation.
The problem is that councils will often challenge these cases claiming, among other things, that the danger in the road was not a pothole per se but reasonable wear and tear (I’ve heard them all).
You need to be pretty firm. Try to find the name of the head of the relevant legal department at the council and write to them.
This sometimes bypasses the “computer-says-no” approach of other council departments. At the same time I would get in touch with my local council ward representative, who can be very helpful too.
Mel Hunter, reader's champion
Teletext hol's lot of delays
Q) I AM owed £3,715 from Teletext Holidays for a holiday to Antalya, Turkey, with my parents, booked in September 2019.
Since the trip was cancelled 15 months ago, I have been trying to get my money back.
I just get excuses all the time and keep being given false delivery dates.
Three months ago I sent them my payment details again, but no refund has arrived.
I’ve written, emailed and phoned but it makes no difference. I cannot afford to lose this money.
A) After I got a refund from Teletext Holidays for another Sun reader a few weeks ago, a load of other readers, including you, got in touch.
They had been waiting for months, or even years, to get their money back.
I took all their details to Teletext and managed to secure refunds totalling around £10,000 – including the £3,715 owed to you.
This week the Competition and Markets Authority announced it was taking court action against it.
The CMA said Truly Holdings – Teletext’s parent company – had not done enough to refund package holiday customers with outstanding claims.
A spokesperson for Truly Holdings said: “The company is working as hard as it can and continues to process the remaining refunds due, and as such is very disappointed by the latest action by the CMA.”
It said it still owed customers £1.2million and had refunded more than £10.8million.
It urged customers to contact email@example.com from the email address used to book and to quote their booking reference number.
I’ll continue doing my bit to help readers’ refunds
Q) I WENT to a Samsung pop-up store at Bluewater shopping centre and bought the new Z Flip3 phone and earbuds, trading in my old phone.
The guy placed the order on an iPad and I accepted delivery for two days later.
I got no emails or texts with a delivery time, so I went on to the Samsung website to track my order. But it said my order number was invalid.
I called Samsung and was told there was no record of my order.
I contacted a Samsung shop, where staff also said the order number was invalid and advised me to call my bank to do a chargeback.
Barclays has given me my £688 temporarily while my dispute is investigated. If it cannot resolve this, it will take the money back.
I cannot afford to lose such a large sum. I have been in a terrible state since this all began.
A) I asked Samsung to do some sleuthing. My first concern was to check there was indeed a genuine Samsung pop-up store in Bluewater that day, then to track down the salesperson to find out what had happened.
Samsung got on the case and discovered the order was placed but a “technical issue” caused a delay in it being processed. Phew!
At midnight on the day I contacted the tech firm, you got a DPD notification saying the phone was on its way. It was delivered the next day.
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