THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
Don’t let ping put off move
COULD the pingdemic stop you moving home? With more than half a million of us alerted by the NHS Covid app in the past week, removal plans for thousands have been hit.
Dave Sayce, of comparemymove.com, has the following advice to keep you on track.
1) Do your pre-move survey remotely. The pre-move survey is where you list everything to be moved, assess problems and work out access to the properties you are moving from and to. Ask if you can do a video survey on your mobile or request an online inventory form to provide your own list so you can get an accurate quote without someone being in your home.
2) It’s not just about price. Before you choose a remover, check their cancellation/rebooking policies and their availability. If you have to postpone, are there costs attached? How quickly can you move when isolation has ended?
3) Ask about safety. Despite restrictions easing in England, some firms are keeping rules in place to protect staff and customers.
4) Introduce your own safety measures. When removal workers are at your place, keep your distance where possible, clean rails and door handles and open doors and windows.
5) Consider doing your own packing. If you are able to pack your own boxes ahead of moving day, limiting contact with outsiders, it will cut your risk of being pinged as well as your costs.
6) If you get pinged ahead of moving day. Contact your removals company as soon as possible. You won’t be the first customer to do so and firms should have policies in place to handle it.
Buy of the week
ESCAPE to the country with this chocolate-box three-bedroom thatched cottage in Kingsteignton, Devon. Listed at £250,000, you won’t have to pay stamp duty.
Find out more at onthemarket.com/details/10680766.
Beware the weed
THE Property Care Association has issued an urgent warning about the dangers of giant hogweed, which can cause skin burns if you touch it.
Dr Peter Fitzsimons, of the trade body’s invasive weed control group, said: “Its sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health.
“The mix of warm weather and rain has provided good conditions for the weed to take hold this year.”
Deal of the week
PATIO sets are sold out almost everywhere so grab this deal while you can at aldi.co.uk. The four-piece set comes with a glass-topped coffee table, all for just £299.99.
SAVE: Up to £300 on similar styles elsewhere
Judge Rinder, legal expert
‘‘I was pinged by NHS app but boss says if I tested negative, I have to work – or my pay will be docked’’
Q) AFTER the NHS app “pinged” me about possible Covid contact, I let my employer know I needed to isolate for ten days. My employer then informed me that if I have come back negative on a test – which I have – I should ignore the app. He said I’m needed at work anyway.
If I stay at home, he added, it would be deducted from my holiday or wages. Do I have any legal basis to stay at home? I am scared of getting in trouble but I also can’t afford to lose wages.
A) The legal status of the NHS App is “advisory”, which means that while you are strongly recommended to self-isolate there is, it seems, no legal requirement for you to do so.
Nevertheless, I am extremely concerned about your employer’s behaviour. The Government has made it very clear that businesses should be supporting employees in isolating.
I would write a firmly worded email to your employer reminding them of this and expressing your concern that you feel you are being forced to ignore the Government’s guidance. Also get in touch with Citizens Advice online, which might be able to assist here.
Q) HAVE a serious allergy to eggs. Recently I had a meal at a pub and informed the waitress who served us about my allergy.
She assured me my meal would be egg-free. But I ended up suffering one of the worst allergy attacks I have ever had and having to go to hospital.
I am furious this happened and believe I am entitled to compensation. How do I go about pursuing this?
A) As soon as you notified your waitress about your allergy, the restaurant was on notice that it needed to do everything reasonably possible to avoid serving you any food that had any trace of egg produce.
What happened to you, therefore, was clearly a result of the restaurant’s negligence. I would advise you to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Most of them are pretty good and they will often work on a conditional fee arrangement, meaning you won’t be out of pocket if the claim is not successful.
Your claim might not be worth a huge amount – that would depend on your injuries and other losses you might have incurred. But in any event, it is a good thing to do as it will make this restaurant – and others – take note, thereby making it safer for other people with serious allergies.
Q) I AM a shared freeholder in a block of flats. The top-floor flat supposedly has a leak. The owner of that flat says all freeholders are liable for the cost of this repair, though only his flat is affected. Is this correct?
A) This all depends on where the leak is coming from, Daisy.
If it is from a defective shower in the top-floor flat, for example, you and the other freeholders are not jointly responsible for repairs.
However, If the leak is coming from the roof, the guttering or another part of the structure of the building, you might well be jointly liable for repairing this and should have building insurance to cover it.
The first step is to ask your upstairs neighbour (calmly) to instruct a builder or someone suitably qualified to confirm where the leak is coming from.
If it does turn out to be a structural issue with the whole property, your best bet is to resolve this as amicably as possible.
Mel Hunter, reader’s champion
All at sea on new cruise
Q) MY husband and I had a Royal Caribbean European cruise booked with our adult daughter. On March 31, we were told our voyage had been cancelled for a second time.
We had the options of future cruise credit, a refund or to move the booking to 2022. However, our cruise account showed we had been rebooked for the original dates, with a British Isles cruise instead. This actually suited us.
When I phoned to check details, I was told the ship was not sailing after all. Then, later, I was told a computer glitch had caused the new itinerary to be shown and we were not booked on the British Isles cruise.
Seeing it was available with other agents, I asked if we could be booked on. I was told our cabin price would increase slightly, which I accepted. But to my horror, the price for our daughter more than doubled – from £1,479 to £3,154. There is no way we can afford this.
A) More than £3,000 seemed a high price for an inside cabin on an eight-night UK cruise. Royal Caribbean accepted you had not been told how much the price would rocket after listening to the customer service conversation.
I managed to get the price right down, to only a fraction more than you had been paying originally. You were happy with this and excited to be going.
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with the customer to resolve the issue. We look forward to welcoming Carol and her family on board.”
Q) WHEN I ordered a TV and soundbar system combined, Samsung’s website failed to apply a £400 saving.
Before I bought them, I did my research and confirmed via online chat my chosen TV had £200 cashback, plus there was a further £400 discount for the soundbar when buying them together.
When the items arrived, the invoice showed the £400 had not been applied. Samsung confirmed it looked like I should have received the £400 discount but a later email said this was not the case, pointing out a clause on the website.
I didn’t think this applied and tried to argue this. The firm’s best offer is vouchers to spend against another product.
A) You only bought your new tech when you were confident you could get the cash-saving deal.
But this didn’t happen and you were left arguing your case. It turns out you were spot-on. When I pressed Samsung on this, the firm admitted as much, forwarding you the £400 you were owed, plus another £100.
A spokesperson for Samsung UK said: “We’re grateful to the customer for bringing this matter to our attention and, following an investigation, we have now resolved the situation. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this issue, which was due to an administrative error.”