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 bu
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
LOCKDOWN is back – and with it the desire to make big changes to our living space.
While spending more time at home, the way we use our pads and even decorate is changing rapidly.
Here, experts from renovation site houzz.com make their predictions for the top home design trends for 2021.
Spokeswoman Kiya Kelly says: “2020 has thrown everything off course, and that includes design.”
RETURN OF THE ALL-WHITE KITCHEN: The Covid pandemic has seen a surge in interest for bright, white kitchens, with many homeowners seeking out clean-looking cooking spaces.
COLOURFUL BATHROOMS: While white kitchens grow in popularity, it is the opposite for bathrooms. Coloured suites are in fashion for the first time since the Seventies. Top shades? Pink, navy and gold.
LUXURY VINTAGE: Out with the new, in with the old. Our growing commitment to sustainability and fighting climate change means householders are buying more high-end, second-hand furniture.
OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT SPACES: Searches for summerhouses, firepits, pizza ovens, hot tubs and outdoor kitchens have all rocketed this year. More of us are buying discounted items over the winter in preparation for spring.
HEALTH AT HOME: Gyms for the home and garden are a huge trend. You do not need a lot of space to create one. Start with a skipping rope and basic weights in a tight space.
NATURE-INSPIRED PALETTES: Warm earth tones such as burnt umber, terracotta and clay, and contrasting forest colours such as sage, turquoise and pine are predicted to be the popular interiors choices for 2021. Rattan furniture is big, too.
Buy of the week
RUNNING fans Jo Loosemore and Matt Goffin rearranged their wedding in Witcham, Cambs, in 24 hours this week to beat lockdown.
Pals from local Ely Runners club turned up as wellwishers.
You can become a near-neighbour if you buy this two-bedroom mews home in Ely, on offer for £194,950 at onthemarket.com/details/9168225.
WE are currently in Radon Awareness Week, which highlights how to minimise the levels of the radioactive gas in your property.
Deal of the week
THIS click-clack three-seater sofa bed in charcoal was £179 but is now reduced to £144.80 at george.com.
The discount is applied at checkout.
Judge Rinder, Legal expert
Q) I LIVE in a semi-detached house. The wall between our house and my neighbour was falling down so my husband replaced it about 12 years ago.
Earlier this year, our neighbour knocked down the three pillars on his side of the wall.
My husband called the police but they said this was a boundary dispute.
Our neighbour has since put old wooden parts in the place of the wall which are an eyesore and have made it difficult for us to sell our house.
My husband has asked him to remove the fencing but he threatened my husband and said “get a solicitor”.
What should we do? Christine, Teesside
A) Your neighbour’s threats are almost certainly a criminal offence, especially if they are violent. Report it to the police if they continue.
The destruction of the wall could, in theory, be classed as criminal damage if you can prove your neighbour destroyed it intentionally or recklessly but, in reality, this is more likely to be considered a civil dispute.
Given your neighbour’s behaviour, you may have a range of legal remedies, including getting a court order forcing him to rebuild the wall.
You are also very likely to be entitled to compensation for the damage he has caused to your property and any costs for making it structurally safe.
But this is not easy to deal with alone. I urge you to get legal help.
Citizens Advice can point you in the way of free legal advice.
I might also suggest you instruct a solicitor.
I know that this may be expensive but, in the event that you take your neighbour to court and win and the value of the claim is over £10,000, he may be forced to cover your costs.
Son’s car con
Q) IN January, my son bought a car from a garage for more than £4,000.
He didn’t get anyone to check it properly. It was his first car.
I found out through a check that it had been in an accident.
Soon after, the brakes failed and it was a write-off.
Where does he stand, as previous repairs clearly were bodged but he didn’t take this up with the garage when he bought it? Michael, Essex
A) If your son had returned this car within the first six months of him purchasing it, the dealer would have been bound by the Consumer Rights Act to offer a refund or replacement.
It would have then been up to the garage to prove the car was in good working order when it sold it.
But, as your son has kept the car longer than six months, it will be up to him to prove it was a dud when it was sold.
The good news is this should be straightforward.
Tell your son to get his evidence together and to obtain a report from an independent garage corroborating everything you say about the terrible quality of the car.
Your son should then email the garage including his evidence, making clear that, given the evident defects of the car when it was sold, he is now entitled to a refund.
Q) MY wife and I recently visited a nearby town and she has now received a notice from the council saying her car encroached on a bus lane with a fine of £60 imposed.
A picture was enclosed showing her car on the edge of the bus lane with its nearside tyres on the line that designates the boundaries of the bus lane.
No part of the tyres are shown to be in the bus lane area itself.
Do we have a right to appeal the fine? Victor, East Sussex
A) According to local authority rules I have examined, along with the guidance in the Highway Code, a car must cross the white line into a bus lane for a fine to be lawfully issued.
You need to check your local authority website’s guidance on this issue but unless the council has passed some sort of by-law making a tyre merely touching the line of a bus lane illegal, you have good grounds to appeal.
In your representations, you should ask the council to explain why they consider the fine to be properly issued.
I suspect they won’t be able to, so the ticket will be cancelled.
If they refuse to see reason, you always have the cost-free option of appealing.
Mel Hunter, Readers’ champion
Q) MY washing machine was recalled by Whirlpool because of a fire risk in late 2019.
I have been speaking with them all year about a replacement but keep getting fobbed off.
I have even asked them to refund me so I can buy another one, but they wouldn’t listen.
I am 85 and live alone with no family to support me if anything goes wrong.
I have to sit and watch the washing machine complete its cycle as I am afraid it will catch fire if I am not there to deal with it.
It is a constant worry. Margaret, Hull
A) You should be on top of Whirlpool’s priorities. The company told me it offered you a machine a few months ago, but you rejected it – perfectly reasonably – as it did not fit the gap in your kitchen.
A spokesman said: “Unfortunately, a system error meant this information was not included on her individual case record and therefore the bigger machine continued to be offered to her.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Whirlpool arranged the correct replacement.
You told me: “I feel so much better. No more stressful wash days wondering if it will catch fire and worrying how I will cope with it if it does.”
Whirlpool told me that of the 260,000 customers who have registered an affected model so far, 93 per cent have already been fully resolved.
Anyone with a Hotpoint or Indesit washing machine can check to see if their appliance is part of the recall by calling 0800 316 1442 or visiting washingmachinerecall.whirlpool.co.uk.
Q) IN August this year I booked flights for my daughter-in-law and grandson, travelling from Bangkok to London on September 13.
Unfortunately, my two-year-old grandson became ill four days before the flight and was in a Thai hospital.
I asked lastminute. com to change the flight to September 20.
I received an email for the change, clicked to approve it, and then called to check it had gone through. I was told it had.
But it appears that Lastminute may not have told the airline, Eva Air, as I received an email on September 13 which said we were no-show passengers.
This error cost me £1,470 and I had to book different flights with Thai Airways to get my relatives to the UK. CARMEL, Surrey
A) It seemed an error here had cost you dear. Eva Air expected your family to turn up for the flight, even though you had confirmation you had changed it.
You could not get through to Lastminute so spoke to your bank to try to get a refund.
The financial impact was concerning for you, but you were equally frustrated at not being able to get through to anyone to sort it out.
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If it was likely that the error had been made by Lastminute, then it is down to that company to put things right, so I got straight on to the online travel giant.
I managed to get your refund, although I never got an explanation about what had gone wrong.
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