Was payment premature?

Dig deep and help to spread some comfort this Christmas

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Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I never miss reading your articles in The News and now I have a query of my own. I bought a recliner chair from SCS Furniture Store at Hedge End. As they are made to order, I was quoted a delivery in September. I decided to pay the full £458 by credit card. I was shocked to find from my credit card monthly statement yesterday that they have already taken the money. Should they do this when I shall not receive the chair for three months?

SI (email)

A No, SCS shouldn’t debit your card until the goods have been dispatched.

This is a practice indulged in by many businesses desperate to improve their cash flow. Unless you explicitly but unwittingly gave SCS permission to pay for goods to be delivered at some future unspecified date, they were not entitled to debit your card without a by your leave.

Check any small print conditions that may have come with your order for the chair. If you inadvertently gave them permission to debit your card immediately, then you’ll have to chalk it up to experience.

If not, ask the store manager to credit your card. If that is ignored contact the card company for a refund as you’ve not received any goods.

Q I logged on to the Holiday Inn Express website to book one night’s accommodation using my Barclays debit card. When checking my bank statement on-line I noticed that £2,102.86 had been debited for the reservation transaction. On contacting the hotel I was told that my booking had actually been made for 31 nights. Despite this being an obvious mistake, the hotel will not budge and insist on keeping the overpayment. Can you please advise?

SM (email)

A Holiday Inn appears to being deliberately obtuse about the booking error.

There is a concept of ‘mistake’ in contract, but without knowing precisely where your booking went wrong my first reaction is, would it be remotely reasonable that an individual would book a hotel room for one whole month without the hotel first questioning it?

It could be argued they were unreasonable and negligent in not querying the length of the stay in the first place.

However, I think your best line of argument is that the booking was clearly a mistake. You are entitled to a refund on the basis there could potentially be no loss of profit on the transaction since they could easily rebook the room for another customer.

Q I was given a dress for my birthday by my sister and I didn’t like the fit or colour. I took it back to the shop, but they only offered to give me a credit note. Can they do this?

JE (internet)

A I believe the shop have been most generous. As you didn’t buy the dress from them in the first place you weren’t entitled to anything. Even if your sister took it back because the dress was not faulty and was fit for purpose, she would not be entitled to a refund or replacement either.

It is always desirable if anyone decides to buy clothing or other personal goods for you that you accompany them to the shop to ensure your complete satisfaction and avoid disappointment.

SMALL PRINT

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.