Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q Please can you help an 80 year old friend of mine get her TV back from Currys where it went on 15th December 2010 for repair? An engineer told her that the colour problems with her TV was down to the aerial, so she had a new one fitted, but it didn’t make the slightest difference. They then took the TV away for repair under their extended warranty and she hasn’t seen it since.
A It all went pear shaped after the Currys engineer came up with a wrong fault diagnosis. Your friend’s TV was then collected for repair, and returned within a week or so in exactly the same defective state.It was taken away for a second time. Then everything went downhill from there.
Phone call after phone call to the Currys repair centre turned out to be short on promises but long on delivery. After four months and innumerable fruitless attempts to get the TV back, in desperation you turned to me to see if I couold get it sorted.
Following my intervention Currys finally located the TV and returned it in full working condition. They also offered £50 in compensation for the abortive phone calls, and have agreed to help out with the cost of the TV aerial provided you can produce a receipt.
Although you got an unequivovcal apology from DSGi’s customer services, I couldn’t help noticing that their service mantra says they ‘keep every customer promise’, and ‘people find it easy and enjoy doing business with us’.
Not this time, however. Let’s hope your experience will lead to Currys learning sufficient lessons in order they can practice what they preach.
Q I have a problem with creditors persistently phoning me between 8am and pm, seven days a week. Although I contacted the citizens’ Advice Bureau and they have made submisions to creditors,
I’d like to know hwere the line is drawn and when this sort of activity becomes an offence. Also perhaps you could tell me whether creditors can be obliged to supply a schedule of calls to a debtor under the Data Protection Act.
A Unfortunately I have to tell you it’s frequently the simplest of questions that have no simple or clear cut answer.
You have to start out from the basic fact that creditors are permitted to lawfully contact you in an attempt to recover unpaid debts. Where lawfulness begins and ends is a bit of a grey area.
It all depends on what is reasonable in the circumstances.
I would venture to suggest that a single phone call would be quite lawful, provided it is not in the early hours or in the dead of night. Between 8 am and 8 pm is an industry agreed standard with the regulator.
If however, you received numerous phonce calls from the same creditor on a daily basis, you might be able to make out a case for harassment. Similarly if you were working and a creditor phoned you at your workplace, this is likely to be a legal no go area.
It all boils down to any over the top methods used by creditors, especially if they are likely to cause you alarm and distress or set out to damage your reputation in the eyes of other people.
Creditors are not obliged to supply you with a schedule of their phone callsl, but it is prudent to keep a contemporaneous record so that if you believe they’re overstepping the mark, you’ll have the evidence to back any accusation up.
The Office of Fair Trading licences the consumer credit industry. Don’t hesitate to complain to them if you have a problem. Go to www.oft.gov.uk for advice and how to complain.
Q My car has been damaged after I hit a pot hole in the road. Can I recover the cost of the repairs from my insurance?
A Yes. You can either recover the cost from your insurers, or from the highway authority, but not both. In Hampshire, the highway authority is the county council, with the exception of Portsmouith and Soouthampton city councils who as initary authorities are responsible for the maintenance of their own road networks.