Protests met by silence

LETTER OF THE DAY: Housing - more needs to be done

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QCan you point me in the right direction over a problem with British Gas? After complaining about a hike of over 25 per cent in my Homecare package, a contact centre operative agreed the increase was not justified and reduced it. Despite this my next direct debit was for the initial amount and all my protests have fallen on deaf ears.

Q Can you point me in the right direction over a problem with British Gas? After complaining about a hike of over 25 per cent in my Homecare package, a contact centre operative agreed the increase was not justified and reduced it. Despite this my next direct debit was for the initial amount and all my protests have fallen on deaf ears.

KS (Locks Heath)

A You wrote to British Gas about this problem and followed it through with further correspondence but received no reply from the named persons.

You then complained about the appalling service, and the response was just the same – nothing, not even a confirmation that your complaint was being investigated.

I suggest your next move is to write to the company again asking for a letter of deadlock, as it clearly has no intention of taking you seriously.

If you do not receive a reply within 14 days, contact the Energy Ombudsman on 0330 440 1624 or e-mail enquiries@os-energy.org.

The Ombudsman service will explain how it can move your case forward in the face of such British Gas intransigence.

Q You said in your article last week that if anyone does a cheapo deal by importing goods from America they get the same rights for faulty products as if they were in the UK. Surely this is not right? I worked in Boston for a UK company for almost 10 years and I can tell you their consumer laws are minimal.

JDS (internet)

A Thanks for spotting the apparent error. You are quite right.

Due to the editing process a sentence was omitted which made it clear this only applied to goods bought over the internet from the European Union.

However, the point was made that there are still significant savings to be made when buying some products from America online by exploiting manufacturer’s national pricing policies.

Electrical goods, CDs etc are on average a third cheaper to buy in the States than they are here in the UK.

However, that must be offset against any import duty, electrical supply differences and, as you say, the cost of repairs if the product goes belly up.

Q I’ve got a lot of mahogany dining and bedroom furniture which I polish regularly with wax-based polishes. I find after a while the wax builds up leaving unsightly marks on the polished surface which I remove with a mixture of toothpaste and baking soda. Can you suggest any alternative furniture polishes that will not cause this problem?

BB (internet)

A I’m not sure whether you’re using solid wax polishes or sprays.

Most modern furniture polish contains silicones to enhance the finish.

The sprays aren’t usually a problem if used sparingly, but wax reapplications on wooden surfaces can result in silicone residues being left to build up.

This leaves patchy black marks on the polished surface which are difficult to buff off.

The simple answer is to clean off the waxed surface and switch to a non-silicone oil based polish.

I suggest you try Wood Silk made by Aristowax products of Norwich.

Most supermarkets stock it, but if in doubt try Waitrose or Morrisons.

Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at richardjthomson1@sky.com 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.