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
Inside track on interiors
NEW year, new look? While the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 reshaped the way we lived, what’s in store for 2022?
Here are the top five style trends predicted by interiors experts . . .
1) HERRINGBONE: The trendy pattern is already big on Instagram for floors, plus kitchen and bathroom tiles. But expect to see it everywhere – from patios and designs on blinds to curtains and homeware. Simple yet stunning, it is an easy and inexpensive way to add interest to your interiors.
2) PASTEL KITCHENS: The cosy but heavy colours we loved during lockdown are being replaced by more optimistic and upbeat tones such as mint greens and pale pinks.
3) VINYL FLOORING: Once looked down upon as cheap and tacky, it is making a cool comeback. Not only can it be fitted quickly and simply, its insulating properties are loved by architects while the wipe-clean surface makes it a top choice for family living.
4) COPPER: This anti-bacterial metal has already made an appearance on kitchen handles and taps, but expect to see complete sinks and even baths this year. Too pricey? Add copper accents with mirror frames and vases instead.
5) WHAT A PEARLER: A top prediction from Pinterest – look out for pearl tiles, pearl-fringed cushions and mother-of-pearl photo frames to add a gentle glow to your home.
Buy of the week
JOIN the Somerset set. Taunton saw house prices grow by the UK’s fastest rate in 2021, up almost 22 per cent.
You could snap up this three-bed, three-storey townhouse for £240,000 at rightmove.co.uk. See rb.gy/yd1dne.
IF you have loved Netflix hit Selling Sunset, tune into Britain’s Most Expensive Houses, Wednesdays at 9pm on Channel 4.
Producer Sophie Wurzer-Williams said: “We will be taking viewers on an unforgettable trip inside some of the most jaw-dropping properties the UK has to offer, and meet some extraordinary people along the way.”
Deal of the week
BEAT the January blues by reflecting light with a trendy window mirror.
This 90 x 75cm Apartment model was £65 but is now reduced to £52 at Dunelm.
Judge Rinder, legal expert
‘‘Woodworker son is out of pocket, but requests for nephew to honour promise of paying fall on deaf ears’’
Q) MY son, who is a joiner, and three or four other lads did some work for my nephew who had his own business.
The firm started to go under and my nephew asked them if they would honour the jobs and finish them without any pay.
This they did and he said when he was back on his feet he would “see them right”.
He then moved away, divorced and married twice with big, flash weddings. He has built up another business and drives expensive cars. But when requests were made to honour his promise they fell on deaf ears.
This has now gone on for years, with my son and others having to take loans to pay mortgages. The sum in question I believe is over £33,000.
Is there a way my son and his colleagues can get recompense?
A) The problem in this case is that your son and his colleagues agreed to do this work for your nephew free of charge.
The fact that your extremely dishonourable nephew promised to “see them all right”, ie. pay up, once his business had improved does not mean your son or his colleagues had a legally enforceable contract for the £33,000.
The other issue is that this all seems to have happened a number of years ago and there is a very strictly applied six-year time limit for bringing any contractual claim.
Your son may have a technical argument against your nephew based on the false promise that he made to pay up, but I doubt this has much chance of success.
It is worth your son writing a strongly worded letter to your nephew offering to negotiate a reduced sum – given the expense of taking this to court – but I’m afraid this is ultimately a case of never mixing work with family unless everything is in writing.
Q) IN March 2020 I bought two tickets for an Evening With Peter Andre at a cost of £76.
Soon after, the event was postponed due to Covid. But I have heard nothing about a rescheduled date since.
The booking website says the tickets will not be refunded, as the event is not officially cancelled, and the organisers are not replying to emails.
It’s been nearly two years and I would like a refund. This may not seem a great amount of money but it is the principle that matters – this company is holding our money on false pretences. What can I do?
A) This is totally unacceptable. The event organisers who sold you the tickets owe you a complete refund. It’s as simple as that.
At the time you bought your tickets, the law that governed terms and conditions for event organisers and promoters was pretty clear.
This has evolved quite a bit because of Covid, but you should have had a refund by now.
Email the booking website’s head of customer services demanding a refund or invite them to explain why they believe they are not legally bound to pay up.
Also contact your credit card company who, despite their rules, may apply their discretion to give you your money back in a case like this.
Q) I LIVE by the sea and have a huge problem following Storm Barra.
Tonnes of sand have been blown on to my property from the dunes.
It can only be cleared with machinery, but as a pensioner I can’t afford to do this.
Despite the sand coming from council-owned land it refuses to clear this and threatens to prosecute if I dump it back where it came from.
A young law student I know suggests I may have a case against the council. Do you agree?
A) I rather agree with your law student friend. If the sand was blown on to your property from council-owned land, it is its responsibility to remove this.
The sand has caused a potential hazard on your land, not to mention a considerable nuisance.
Whatever the case, the council certainly has to give you a reasonable way of clearing it all.
Email the relevant council department demanding it sets out why it is not required to assist you.
You should also contact your ward councillor, who would usually be helpful in this sort of situation.
Mel Hunter, reader’s champion
Scooter firm refund drag
Q) I BOUGHT an electric scooter for £279 as a Christmas present for my son. I then changed my mind and emailed requesting to send it back.
The company, Pro Electric Scooters, arranged for it to be collected for £30, which I paid. In the end, I dropped it at my nearest Parcel Force depot instead.
I tracked the item and got a message telling me it had been delivered on November 18.
When I emailed six days later, I was advised that they hadn’t received the item back, and that was that. Parcel Force is adamant the item was delivered.
Pro Electric Scooters has promised to investigate and come back to me, but I have heard nothing.
A) Electric scooters were at the top of many Christmas lists, even though it’s currently illegal to use them on public roads and pavements, unless there is an approved Government scheme.
I got in touch with Pro Electric Scooters, high-lighting the tracking information you’d sent me showing the delivery in black and white.
The team there contacted you a few days later, saying the refund was being processed.
But it took another ten days, and another nudge from me, before you finally got your money returned, just in time for Christmas.
A member of the team apologised, telling me they’d been very busy due to the time of year and that they have to inspect each returned product.
Q) IN June 2020 a group of friends and myself had our holiday to Turkey cancelled.
We booked our flights with Pegasus Airlines via Lastminute .com.
We have received only the outward flight money back, but have never got the homebound costs from Dalaman to Manchester, totalling almost £1,500.
Pegasus informed us that Lastminute has been refunded the return flight money, but after endless emails and phone calls we are hitting our heads against a brick wall.
A) Making a flight-only booking with a third- party agent, such as Lastminute, is a bit of a balancing act.
Unlike a package holiday, the onus is not on the agent to refund you. The money has to come from the airline itself but, as this usually happens via the agent, there can be another layer of possible delay, confusion or red tape.
Pegasus, though, had told you it had paid over the money, so I chased it up with Lastminute.
You told me the travel firm got in touch with you the same day and the money was back with your party a week later.
A Lastminute spokesman told me: “In the sale of standalone flight tickets, we act as an agent and the consumer’s contract is between the customer and the airline directly, therefore we are obliged to follow the rules set out by the airline.
“We apologise for the delay in resolving this issue.”