Consumerline: Consumer advice, information, consumer rights, consumer legislation, consumer education and help on customer care from the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland – Faqs

Domain Scams – Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


Buying Goods

  • I bought a pram last week but when I was using it the pram started to collapse and I think there seems to be a problem with the brakes. I brought it back to the shop and asked for a refund but they say I have to let them repair it. Is this right?

    Answer »

    No. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says that the goods that you buy should be of satisfactory quality. If they are not satisfactory at purchase or shortly afterwards then you can reject them and ask for a refund of your money.   Satisfactory quality also means safe and a pram that starts to collapse and has problems with the brakes is not safe. Complaints about unsafe goods can be investigated by Consumer Safety so you should contact the Environmental Health Department of the council area where you bought the pram and their Consumer Safety Officers will investigate this complaint.

  • I bought a tablet computer last week. It worked for a few days but now it just won’t work at all. I brought it back to the shop but they say that as it was working when they sold it to me that they do not have to do anything. The sales assistant is implying that I have damaged it. I know I have not damaged it. What can I do?

    Answer »

    The sales assistant is wrong when he says that because the tablet computer was working when they sold it to you that they are not liable if it does not work now. Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) you have the right to be sold goods that are of satisfactory quality which means that they should be free from faults, fit for their normal purpose, as described as well as being safe and durable. You are allowed a reasonable period of time – after you have bought something – to test it and make sure it is working properly. You bought the tablet computer  only last week so you may still be within what would be considered a reasonable time to reject the tablet computer  if it is faulty and to ask for your money back.

    You could consider asking for a repair or a replacement.  Under the Sale of Goods legislation, if something is faulty within the first 6 months of purchase it is assumed it was faulty at the time of sale. If the shop refuses to repair or replace the tablet computer then it is up to the shop to prove that the tablet computer  was not faulty at the time of sale and that you have damaged it. If the shop does agree to a repair or replacement then this should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you undue inconvenience.

  • I saw a suite, which I thought was the perfect colour match for my home. I ordered the suite there and then and paid a £200 deposit. When I got home I realised that although the suite was the right colour it was far too big for the room and would not fit. I phoned the shop the next morning to cancel the order and to ask for my money back. The shop has said that they will cancel the order with the manufacturer but that they will not refund my deposit. Can they do this?

    Answer »

    Yes they can. When you place an order and pay a deposit you enter into a legally enforceable contract. The shop has taken your deposit as security and as proof that you want to make this contract. You have no right in law to cancel the agreement and if you do you will lose the deposit. Sometimes shops will be generous and allow you to transfer the deposit to another suite but this is up to the shop and you do not have any right to demand that they give you a refund or even credit you with your deposit if you cancel an order.

  • I saw an LCD television that I wanted to buy for sale in a local shop. When I went over to the counter to buy it the manager came over and refused to sell it to me. He said the price marked on was wrong and it should be an extra £100. He would not let me have it at the marked price. Can I insist that the shop sell it to me at the displayed price?

    Answer »

    No. You cannot make a shop sell you anything if it does not want to. In civil law when goods are priced and are on display in a shop this is called “an invitation to treat.” This means that the shop is inviting you – the customer – to make an offer to buy the goods. It is up to the shop if it will or will not accept your offer. You have offered to buy the television but the shop has not accepted your offer so there is no contract.

    However the shop may have committed a criminal offence in that they are misleading consumers as to the price at which the TV is being sold. If you think this is the case, you should contact Domain Scams on 0300 123 6262. Domain Scams will take your details and pass your complaint on to the Trading Standards Service which can investigate such complaints.

  • Last week I bought my daughter a jumper to match her new skirt. When she tried it on at home it was the wrong shade and a bad fit. I brought it back to the shop for a refund because there was nothing else she liked in the shop and she really needs a jumper. The shop has said that they will give me an exchange or a credit note but not a refund. Can they do this?

    Answer »

    Yes. The law only gives you the right to a refund if there is a breach of contract – that is if the goods are faulty or have been wrongly described. If you have made a mistake and there is nothing wrong with what you have bought then the shop does not have to make any offer – not even an exchange or a credit note. If they are prepared to offer you an exchange or a credit note then this is reasonable because in law you have no rights.

    Some shops do have very generous policies and will give refunds on unsuitable goods but it is important to remember that they do not have to do this. If you are not sure if something is going to be suitable it is important that you check with the shop before you buy it what their policy is. If necessary get the assistant to write on the receipt that they will give you a cash refund if what you are buying is unsuitable. This is especially important if this is not their normal policy but they have agreed to give you a cash refund in this particular instance.



  • Becoming a guarantor.

    My 19 year old nephew who lives at home has just started a new job. It is hard for him to get to work by public transport and he wants to buy a motor bike. He has found a new bike he likes but he can’t afford to pay cash for it and he wants to take out a credit agreement. The garage has told him that he would need a guarantor and he has now asked me if I will go guarantor for him. The bike is costing over £2,000 and I am worried he might not be able to keep up the payments. What would happen if he lost his job and couldn’t keep up the payments?

    Answer »

    When you sign as guarantor on a credit agreement you make yourself as liable as the other person for the full amount. If your nephew stopped paying the credit agreement, for whatever reason, the finance company would be perfectly within its rights to ask you for any outstanding payments. You could in fact be liable for the whole amount. You need to think very carefully if you can afford to lose this amount of money before you commit yourself to becoming a guarantor for your nephew.

  • Faulty goods – under £100 – paying by credit card

    I saw an advertisement in the classified section of a daily newspaper for a lightweight vacuum cleaner. It seemed very good value at £49.99 so I sent for it paying by credit card. It worked at first but after less than 3 months it just stopped. I have tried to contact the company but their line is dead and the newspaper says it is not covered under any mail order protection scheme. I have heard that if you buy goods and pay by credit card if you have problems you can complain to the credit card company. When I contacted my credit card company they said that they would not do anything for me. Do I have any claim against my credit card company?

    Answer »

    Unfortunately, in this situation, no – you don’t. You are quite right when you say that you have heard that you can complain to your credit card company about faulty goods that have been paid for by credit card but these have to cost over £100 (per item) for you to have any claim. In your case the goods only cost £49.99 so you do not have any claim against your credit card company in this instance.

  • Non Delivery – mail order credit card – over £100

    My son is starting university and he wanted a lap top computer for his assignments. Friends had bought one from a company in England and were very pleased with it so I phoned the company and ordered one by phone paying by credit card. The computer did not arrive and I have just learned that the company has ceased trading. The lap top cost over £900 and I can’t afford to lose so much money. What can I do?

    Answer »

    First of all you need to find out if any receivers or administrators have been appointed so you can register your claim with them.  However if you are unable to get your money back from the computer firm then you do have extra rights because you paid by credit card. When you buy goods that individually cost more than £100 and you pay by credit card then the Consumer Credit Act 1974 says that you have an equal claim against the credit card company for any breach of contract. The firm did not supply you with the computer, which is a breach of contract, so you can claim your money back from the credit card company.

    You should write to them giving them as much information as you can about the firm and your order and ask them to refund you in full. It may take some time for them to investigate your claim but you should get all your money back in the end. Remember this protection only applies to credit cards so if you use a charge card or a debit card you do not have this protection.



  • I booked an early morning taxi to take me to the ferry terminal. I emphasised when I was booking it that I was catching a ferry and I told the taxi firm the time of the ferry and when I had to check in. I had to phone on several occasions and each time I emphasised that I was catching a ferry and each time I phoned I was told the taxi was on its way. When it did eventually arrive it was over one hour late and when I arrived at the terminal I was too late for the boat and I missed my trip. Can I claim compensation for my lost holiday?

    Answer »

    Yes you can. The taxi firm has a duty to carry out the service with reasonable care and skill. You had advised them that you were catching a ferry and you had told them that you needed to check in by a specific time. The taxi firm would have known that if they were late you would miss the ferry and so would be unable to travel. They did not perform the service with reasonable care and skill and as a result you missed the boat. You can hold them liable for the losses you experienced as a consequence of their failure to provide the taxi as booked.

  • I employed a decorator to wallpaper my living room. I supplied the paper and paste and backing paper. He finished the job in a day but when I saw the finished work I realised he had made a mistake throughout in the drop of the pattern and he had not matched the design correctly. The whole room will have to be redone. The decorator has agreed to redo the room but who is responsible for the cost of the paper?

    Answer »

    When you employ someone to do work for you they should carry it out with reasonable care and skill. This should be to the standard of the average competent workman. In your case the decorator, by not matching the pattern correctly, did not show the skill and expertise that one could reasonably expect from the average competent workman. You can expect him to redecorate the room, at no extra cost, and you also have a claim against him for the losses you have incurred because of his poor workmanship. This means you can claim the cost for the replacement paper from him.

  • I have signed a contract for a firm to build a conservatory but we did not actually agree a specific starting date. I understood that they would start work in about 4 weeks but I have now been waiting over 4 months and they still have not started the job. Do I have to keep waiting until they decide to start or can I now go to a different company?

    Answer »

    When no start date has been agreed in a contract then under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 you can expect that the work will be carried out within a reasonable time. What is reasonable can vary from contract to contract but it would be reasonable to expect work to be started within a few months of signing a contract.

    What you now need to do is to write to the company and specify a date by which you want them to start the work You need to say that “time is of the essence” which means that the start date is an important term in your contract. This means that if they do not start the work you can say that they are in breach of contract and you can withdraw from the contract and go to another firm. You cannot go back on the time you have already waited – you have to go forward. You have to give them a reasonable period of time between the date of your letter and the date you want then to start.

  • I left a cream suit in to be dry cleaned. When I called to collect it the Dry Cleaner said that it had been damaged by another garment. There is a large mark on the front of the jacket where they have tried to remove a stain and another large mark on the skirt. The Dry Cleaners have said that another customer left a pen in the pocket of their garment and this pen leaked and damaged my suit. They have not charged me for the dry cleaning but my suit is ruined. Who is responsible?

    Answer »

    In this case the dry cleaners are responsible. They should take reasonable care and use their expertise and knowledge when preparing garments for the dry cleaning process. It is up to the dry cleaner to check that garments are suitable for the specific process and that nothing has been left in a garment which might damage other items in the load. They failed to check the load thoroughly and as a result your garment was damaged. You are entitled to claim compensation for the suit. The amount you claim would be affected by the age of the suit and also its condition.