Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q When I bought a flat screen TV from a supermarket just before Christmas I was pressurised into buying ‘product support’ for it, which I’ve worked out amounts to 20 per cent of the purchase price. As it’s a good make I have since changed my mind. Can I cancel it and get a full refund?
A Regular readers will know that I have a very low opinion of extended warranties.
Almost without exception they are a monumental rip-off and there is considerable anecdotal evidence the repair service is indifferent too.
You can cancel your additional warranty provided its duration is for a year or more.
Under the Extended Warranty on Domestic Goods Order 2005, you have a right to a full refund for up to 45 days from the date of purchase. The long ‘cooling off’ period reflects the pressure buyers can be put under by sales staff eager to pocket a warranty sales bonus.
I find the best way to choke off pushy product support advances is to query whether the product is likely to be so unreliable after the first year that buying an additional warranty is necessary.
It works every time.
Q I have concerns about a firm I have contracted to fit solar panels. I just wonder if they have ceased trading because I handed them £500 last June and have heard nothing since. I keep phoning them only to get a message to leave my name and number, but no-one gets back to me.
A You are not alone in your your concerns with this firm, which is registered at Companies House as Energy Savings Improvements Ltd., whose registered office is at 696 Yardley Wood Road, Bilesley, Birmingham, BH13 0HY.
I have no evidence at time of writing that it has gone into receivership. It just seems the company is infuriatingly tardy in dealing with legitimate enquiries.
It acts as an intermediary for installers, who then do the actual installation on its behalf.
If you look at the contract you signed with the company, you’ll find a clause which says that a full refund of the £500 will be given if the installation is not completed within 90 days.
It is therefore in breach of contract and I suggest you take it at its word by writing to Mr James M Manley, the company secretary at the above address, requesting the promised refund.
Q I’ve experienced problems when switching from Talk Talk to Sky for a phone and broadband package. Sky said it would take care of the whole process but it’s turned out to be a complete mess. Talk Talk says it didn’t receive a notification to switch, Sky says it has evidence on file it did. Where do I go from here?
A I suggest that you adopt a plague on both your houses approach and write to them saying you are requesting a letter of deadlock because between them they cannot resolve your problem.
They should then refer you to an independent resolution service approved by the telecoms regulator Ofcom.
If you check your recent bills you will find the resolution service they use, which should be either the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (Otelo).
If not, then I suggest that you contact them directly.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at email@example.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.