Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q Over the past four years I have tried with three different dentists to obtain a full set of dentures that fit comfortably. They were all supplied by the NHS and cut into my gums. Does the sale of NHS dentures come under same rule as any other goods that are not fit for purpose?
A Yes, but as your dentures were supplied as part of a service you should look to the Supply of Goods and Service Act 1982 for any remedy.
You have a right to expect dentures made for you to fit sufficiently well that you are not continuously conscious of wearing them.
From your point of view, the good news is that Part 1 of the Act mirrors the Sale of Goods Act 1979, and Part 2 covers the supply of the ‘service’.
You told me that on two occasions the dental practice finally agreed to refund you. The last practice believes they have grounds to resist your refund claim.
With all these professional service type claims it’s important to sort out whether it’s the ‘goods’ that give you a right to a refund or unsatisfactory service.
By law professional services must be carried out with the degree of skill and competence expected from the profession, within a reasonable time, and at a reasonable price.
In the circumstances I’d guess both parts of the act may have been violated. The goods (the denture) may not be fit for purpose, and the service may have been lacking in sufficient skill, and taken far too long to remedy the problem.
There is a clear process for complaining about unsatisfactory NHS dentistry. You should first complain direct to the providing dentist.
If that doesn’t sort you out, you need to move upwards and complain to the Primary Care Trust. To find out your primary care trust either ring NHS Direct (0845 4647) or visit the NHS choices website.
If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, you can take your complaint to the English Health Service Ombudsman (0345 015 4033) email@example.com
Q I’ve been told you can still buy the old-type incandescent light bulbs that have been banned by the EU. Apparently you can get them from builders’ merchants and industrial suppliers. Is it legal to use them?
A Anything that has an EU tag is surrounded by misinformation and mythology. It’s not, and never has been, illegal to use incandescent light bulbs for home lighting. Fitting energy-saving lamps cuts the average household electricity bill by £43, and they help to slash greenhouse gas emissions. In that sense they have everything going for them. That’s why the British Government agreed to put its signature on our behalf to the directive.
It is still possible to buy industrial-type incandescent bulbs. These are manufactured to a specification that reduces vibration damage. Expect to pay about a £1 each for them from some electrical wholesalers.
Q. Southern Electric is about to up the cost of gas and electricity. For the first time I’m thinking of switching to another supplier. Where can I get the best current deal?
A. I suggest you take look at EDF’s blue + price promise. They estimate the average dual fuel bill is £1,059 and they’ll fix that price until April 2014.
There’s no early termination fee, so you’re free to switch again should you find a better deal. If another supplier undercuts the fixed tariff by more than a £1 per week they will tell you.
E-On has a similar two-year deal, but if you want to take advantage of either of them you’ll need to get your skates on as they are likely to be pulled within the next few weeks.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.