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Citizens Information: Consumer Rights

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It’s that time of year again when Christmas is fast approaching and shoppers are out in force.

Most purchases of goods and services go smoothly, but what happens when things go wrong?

Rest assured that when you buy a product or a service you have a number of rights under Irish and European Union (EU) legislation. These laws aim to give you strong rights when you buy in a shop or online, make sure you get enough information to make a buying decision based on facts and make sure there are redress options available to you if things go wrong. By law, sellers or suppliers (known as ‘traders’) must treat you fairly, for example, by making sure products and services are safe and of a high standard.

Consumer Contracts

When you buy goods and services, you are making a contract with the seller. As parties to the agreement, both you and the seller have certain legal rights and obligations. Contracts can be made verbally, in writing, or by your conduct. There are certain parts of a contract that businesses are free to set. However, these terms must not go against your consumer rights.

Consumer Rights

Irish and EU consumer laws only apply to transactions between a consumer and a trader. It does not apply when:

* You buy from a private individual who is not a trader (for example, someone who is selling their own car to you but who does not sell cars as a profession)
* You buy goods or services intended for use in your business (business-to-business transactions)
* You buy from a trader based outside the EU or European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein)

Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980

When you buy products, they must be ‘in conformity with the contract’.

This means they must be:

* Of merchantable quality – of a reasonable and acceptable standard, taking into account other factors such as durability and price
* Fit for the purpose you bought it for – they should work and do what they are reasonably expected to do
* As described – they should match any description given in an advert or other information provided by the seller at the time of sale

If the products you receive are not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or do not match the description you were given, you have a right to certain remedies. A remedy could be a repair, replacement or a refund. Contracts for the supply of services are currently subject to much less statutory regulation than contracts for the sale of products. When you make an agreement with a supplier of services, for example, a carpenter, a plumber or a dentist, the agreement may be written or oral or a bit of both. In general, the terms of the agreement are what you agree with the supplier or trader.

Online shopping rights

When you buy online from an online trader in Ireland, or elsewhere in the EU, you have strong rights under the EU Consumer Rights Directive (CRD). These include:

* The right to clear and accurate information
* The right to change your mind and cancel (some purchases are not included)
* The express right to refund for delayed or non-delivery
* Right to redress in case of faulty goods.

What is my 'right to redress' if things go wrong?

If you have a problem with something you have bought (for example, it is faulty or does not meet the description given), it is always the seller who must put things right. As a general rule, the seller must offer a repair or replacement. Alternatively, they can give you a refund.

If you are not satisfied with the quality of the products or services you should:

* Return the item to the seller (not the manufacturer)
* Act as soon as you can – a delay can indicate that you have accepted faulty products
* Don’t attempt to repair the item yourself or give it to anyone else to repair it
* Make sure you have proof of purchase, for example a receipt or credit card statement

For services, keep all evidence of damage caused by poor work, for example take photos.
The success of your consumer complaint can depend on a combination of factors - consumer legislation, the trader’s willingness to resolve the issue, and the circumstances of the case itself.

For anyone needing information, advice or have an advocacy issue, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in Kerry on 0761 07 7860, they will be happy to assist and make an appointment if necessary. The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information.

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on MyHome.ie in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 killarney@dng.ie for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]

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A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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