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.
Searches for wallpaper online have quadrupled in the last yearCredit: Getty
ONCE shunned in favour of plain white paint, wallpaper is firmly back in fashion.
Searches for it online have quadrupled in the last year, with a range of styles including floral, regency and geometric adorning the homes of interior designers and influencers. But choosing the right style isn’t easy, so here’s how to get started.
Jane Hamilton give her tips and tricks for applying wallpaper
Buy before you try: Just like painting a wall with a test pot, ask for swatches of wallpapers you like and pin them to the wall. Look at them at different times of day and in different light to see how they enhance the room.
Pick your print size: Smaller rooms suit smaller prints while bold styles work best in larger spaces.
How many walls? A single “statement” wall looks lovely in a bathroom or as a focal point in a bigger room. In period homes, try papering either above or below the dado rail. Want a big impact? Paper all four walls. Or a new trend is the “fifth wall” which is papering the ceiling while leaving the other walls painted. It sounds wacky but looks amazing in the right space.
Prepare properly: Before you start, use a scraper to test how many layers of paper are under the surface wall covering. If there are more than two, remove extra layers. Always add lining paper for a professional finish.
Wallpapering for the first time? Avoid fiddly patterns which are tough to match up.
Kids or pets? Consider wipeable wallpaper. Most wallpapers come with a “washability rating”, ranging from “spongeable” to “highly scrubbable”.
Buy of the week
PAY more in Paisley. The Scottish town is the UK’s top homes hotspot, with asking prices up 15 per cent in a year, according to Rightmove.
But it’s still affordable, with this home on sale for £189,000. See rightmove.co.uk/properties/102960578#
Judge Rinder helps a woman who loaned money to her son’s partner, but never got it back
Q) MY son’s partner went to visit her parents in Italy last February. Before she left, she asked if I would lend her £700 to hire a car while she was there.
She has now broken off the relationship with my son and refused to pay back the money she owes me.
Is there anything I can do about this or do I have to write that money off?
A) I am afraid there is very little the law can do to help you in this situation. Even though you clearly loaned money to your son’s ex-partner expecting it back, it appears you did not get this agreement in writing.
Without something in writing, a court would be bound to assume that you did not intend to sue this woman in the event that she failed to pay you back.
You are required to prove that, at the time you entered into an agreement with another person, both parties intended to create legal relations or, in other words, that you would go to court if the contract broke down.
As this is an essential ingredient of all contracts, I always tell people that if they have to lend friends or family money they must ALWAYS ensure they draft and sign a clearly written document. This is very unfortunate as the money you lent clearly wasn’t a gift.
I would write to this woman reminding her of your verbal agreement, invite her to acknowledge that she owes you this money and propose a timeframe for her to pay you back.
If she agrees then fails to return the money she owes, this could potentially be used to take action against her.
Bill of wrongs
Q) I HAVE fallen victim to a phone scam. I thought I was calling the Department for Work and Pensions but it was a scammer’s number which charged me £72.90 for a 20-minute call.
The phone company insists I pay the bill. Is there anything I can do to get my money back?
A) Scammers like this are becoming increasingly creative in nasty ways to steal money.
Although your phone company could argue you still owe this money as you are responsible for the call you made, the number you dialled was part of a fraud which means your provider would be the beneficiary of stolen funds if they take your cash.
I would get in touch with the head of customer services at this company and say you do not intend to pay and that you are horrified, given the circumstances, that they have chosen not to cancel the charges. Be tough.
Judith’s friend is having sleepless nights thanks to her late partner’s childrenCredit: Alamy
Q) MY dear friend lived with her partner for 52 years. They have a son together who is 45, and her partner had two daughters from his previous marriage.
Her partner died without making a will. He owned the house outright.
Now his daughters are asking my friend to make improvements to the home at her expense if she wants to remain there and have added their names to the Land Registry without consulting her.
They say she has no claim on the house and they are able to force her out if they want to. She is having sleepless nights. Can they really do this to her?
Judith, East Sussex
A) Because your friend’s partner died without them being legally married and without leaving a will, the home that he shared for five decades with his partner (your friend) will – by law – go to all three children in equal share.
The two children from your friend’s partner’s first marriage who are now trying to force your friend to pay for improvements under threat of eviction, may have the legal right to ensure that the house is maintained but they cannot threaten your friend like this as she, almost certainly, has a legal right to live in that property for the rest of her life.
She may also be entitled to insist that the children pay for the upkeep of the house.
Your friend must assert her legal right to remain in her home and for provision to be made for maintenance.
This is not straightforward. It will require some expert legal assistance and for your friend to act quickly.
I would urge her in the strongest possible terms to get in touch with a specialist solicitor. This doesn’t need to be expensive or contentious. It’s possible that this could be resolved with a well-drafted letter and some careful negotiation.
- Got a question for Judge Rinder? Email [email protected].
Mel Hunter helps a reader who is stuck with a new broken fridge
Q)MY son’s partner died of cancer at 28, leaving him to bring up their nine-year-old daughter alone. Though he is stretched for money, he bought a new fridge freezer from Currys last July. But by October it had broken down.
After many calls, Currys sent a technician who said it was beyond repair. It hasn’t been replaced yet and is still standing in my son’s kitchen.
He lost £120 worth of food when it failed and had to spend £60 on an emergency counter-top fridge.
Currys knows his situation and how badly he is struggling but appears to find this acceptable.
Lesley Power, Godalming, Surrey
A) I asked Currys to look into this as a matter of urgency. At last the retailer took action, sending out an upgraded appliance worth more than the old one and taking the broken fridge away.
A spokesperson said: “We have apologised for the delay, inconvenience and frustration caused.”
Know your worth
OUR homes are usually our most important asset, but more than half of us have no idea how much our property is worth.
A report from Zoopla also found that 60 per cent don’t know the square footage of their house either.
Homes in the UK have an average value of £250 per square foot, with an average floor plan measuring 991 square feet.
Q)IN 2019 we bought an AEG/Electrolux cooker with a five-year guarantee. Last October, when I was cooking a meal, the oven door fell off.
I called customer care and an engineer was sent out but he didn’t fix the problem.
Another two appointments were cancelled while on a third, the engineer replaced some parts but did not have one of the glass panels, so the oven is still unusable.
Over Christmas and New Year we had no oven and despite numerous emails to AEG, we are no further forward.
Hugh Hardie, Motherwell
A) I pointed out to AEG that if it could not carry out a speedy repair then, in line with the Consumer Rights Act, it should offer a replacement or refund.
At this point, the firm pulled its finger out.
The part was sent and the problem fixed a few days later, which should have happened months before, without my involvement. At last, you could have that Christmas roast you missed out on.
Trudy has been chasing her cheque from Tui for a yearCredit: Alamy
Q) WHEN a friend and I went to Lanzarote for a week last February, our Edinburgh-bound plane home was diverted to London.
Tui put us up in a hotel with a letter saying we could book a flight to Edinburgh and claim it back.
I booked flights as the instructions said and sent the letter and invoices to Tui. I got an email last March saying a cheque for £340 was in the mail.
It never arrived. I chased it all last year, but we are still going round in circles.
Trudy Campbell, Edinburgh
A) Your letter took me back to a bygone era, when not all travel problems were caused by Covid! When I got in touch, Tui suggested you had already cashed a cheque it had sent.
Deal of the week
MAKE your home chic and help charity at the same time.
This marble nest of tables is £69.99 at shop.sueryder.org compared to £399 for a similar style at John Lewis.
You had indeed received a cheque from Tui but it was the £672 flight compensation you were owed for the delay you experienced, for getting home more than a day late.
It wasn’t the £340 for the new flight which you were also due. I kept on at Tui until we finally got the money you were owed – albeit a year late.
When I asked Tui what had gone wrong, it dismissed the issue as “just a technical error”.
- Do you have a consumer issue? Email [email protected]
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