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
CLIMATE-crisis warriors have blocked motorways, calling for a national home insulation strategy.
But just how much would that cost? Specialists at Insulation4Less estimate it would be £17.9billion to retrofit homes with energy-efficient insulation, with 26million properties needing extra measures.
John Paul Manning, MD of Insulation4Less, said: “We have a lot of existing infrastructure in the world which isn’t very climate friendly. That includes a lot of our homes.”
Below are some affordable ways to fit insulation…
Heat saving wrapped up
- Loft roll: A quarter of your home’s heat escapes through the roof and loft insulation can stop this. It costs around £700 to kit out the average loft but this can reduce energy bills by up to £315 a year.
- Pipe lagging: Insulating your water and radiator pipes only saves around £5 a year. But as the cost can be as low as £30, it will still pay for itself in a few years and help the planet.
- Triple glazing: This saves an extra 15 per cent on your bills. The cost is around a third higher than double glazing.
- Cavity wall insulation: About a third of all the heat lost in an uninsulated home escapes through the walls. Expect to pay around £725 to have it in a detached house.
- Floor insulation: Consider this for any floors that are above unheated spaces, such as garages, because you could be losing a lot of your heat through those.
- Draught proofing: Blocking draughty windows, doors and letterboxes is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save money and energy. Hiring a professional installer costs around £200 but you can do it yourself. Expect savings to be around £20 per year.
Buy of the week
SINGER Rag’n’Bone Man has hit the headlines after raging at developers threatening to build homes near his £1million mansion in well-to-do Heathfield, East Sussex.
Join the star in the area. This two-bedroom terrace with secluded garden is up for £275,000 at zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/59676031.
THE average age of first-time buyers is tipped to reach 37 in London by 2031 and almost 35 across the rest of England.
New research from Compare The Market found the most common method of purchase is buying with a partner.
Forty-seven per cent of first homes are bought this way.
Deal of the week
FORGET the Berber rug. This autumn, it is all about Berber pouffes. This £50 design from George at Asda is the season’s best buy for an instant update of your living room.
SAVE: £40 on similar styles elsewhere
Judge Rinder, legal expert
‘‘Mondeo Man is being driven round the bend by long-running problem with his car’s steering wheel’’
Q) I PURCHASED a Mondeo car through a Ford dealership in 2018 and it is regularly serviced by a Ford agent.
I noticed in November 2019 that the steering wheel was delaminating. Ford agreed it was not acceptable and replaced the steering wheel under warranty.
Since then, the same problem has reoccured (which I mentioned at the next service).
They have offered £210 towards a new one but the cost is over £750. I feel a steering wheel should last longer than 18 months – especially as during lockdown the car was hardly used.
The car is only four years old. The steering wheel is operational but feels rough.
A) When the approved Ford service centre replaced the steering wheel under warranty, they were legally required to fit a new part that would withstand wear and tear.
As the material on the wheel has degraded so badly in a short period it would – I suspect – be hard for Ford to prove the steering wheel they replaced was up to standard.
They are legally obliged to pay the full price for a new one. I would write to the head of Ford customer services in reasonable terms enclosing photos of the wheel, demanding a full refund, saying you would rather avoid legal action. A well-crafted letter should do the trick.
Q) My parents bought their property (ex council housing) in 1983, at which time, our estate backed onto green fields.
Dozens of bungalows have since been built on those fields – including one overlooking our back garden.
A couple of years ago, the owner asked if he could cut off the top of one of our trees. Trying to be a good neighbour, I reluctantly agreed and he had people in who cut off a lot more than I was expecting. I was not assertive enough to say anything.
Since he cut the tree down, he’s taken it upon himself to cut the hedge. The top end of our property is left wild for wildlife and I like to see the hedge growing with grass and wild flowers.
The hedge is on land that would have once been the fields, and I cannot find the original deeds to our house to determine who it would belong to. I think I’ve seen somewhere that if a piece of ground, deemed to be “waste”, is tended to, it could eventually become the property of whoever does the maintenance.
Could my neighbour claim this ground and would I be able to stop him?
A) Whether you or your parents once gave this neighbour permission to cut down a tree on your land doesn’t seem to be especially relevant in this case.
This neighbour is only legally permitted to cut trees, branches or to strim hedges that are on his side of the boundary. If these bungalows were built recently I doubt that this shrubbery is on wasteland.
I would apply to the land registry online. This will clearly indicate the borders of your properties.
It might be a good idea to kindly remind your neighbour that he does not have consent to cut any trees or hedges on your parents’ land. It is always wise to do this as amicably as possible.
Q) MY granddaughter’s parents paid a large deposit for a school holiday, but due to Covid the holiday was cancelled and the school has said the deposits would not be refunded by the holiday company.
Is this correct or is there another way to get funds returned?
A) These parents appear to have purchased a package holiday on behalf of their children.
Unless they were specifically informed they would lose their deposits in the event the trip was cancelled because of Covid restrictions (and they all agreed to this), I do not understand why this holiday firm thinks it is legally justified in retaining this money.
Your granddaughter’s parents must write to the school demanding the travel company sets out in writing the basis upon which they claim that they can lawfully do this.
All the parents should get together and be as tough as they can.
Mel Hunter, reader's champion
Long battle with Ryanair
Q) I HAVE been trying to get money back from Ryanair for more than a year.
In March 2020 I flew to Lanzarote with my two sons, their wives, four kids and my husband.
It was at the start of the Covid crisis and Ryanair cancelled the return flight, saying we could rebook or get a refund. But there were no flights available and no one to contact.
One of my grandsons has learning and physical disabilities and is in a wheelchair. His mother was very stressed about not being able to get home and she was worried she’d run out of his medication.
We finally got a Jet2 flight at a cost of £6,025, which we paid out of savings.
Ryanair has refunded the £913 we paid for the original flights, but when I requested the money we had to pay to get home the airline said the cancellation was outside its control, so no compensation is due.
A) Ryanair had it right on one front – no compensation was payable. But if Ryanair cancelled the flight – even in the mayhem of March 2020 –then it had a responsibility to get you home.
As soon as I contacted the airline, it agreed that it had a duty of care to your family. So no compensation was due, but a refund of your extra costs totalling more than £5,000 certainly was.
Ryanair said it didn’t have the right paperwork from you to complete this, even though you believed you’d already sent it. With a little more chasing from myself you finally got the money back.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “The delay in processing the refund was due to the customer submitting the incorrect documentation. We were unable to process it until we received the correct information."
Q) MY ex-partner took out two phone contracts with Virgin Mobile two years ago – one for each of us. Every month I pay him for my phone bill as the account and both contracts are in his name.
For the past five months we have been trying to get a “change of ownership” with Virgin and have my phone put in my name so I can pay my bill directly.
We have contacted them on several occasions and got nowhere.
Each time we are passed from person to person, department to department. We are placed on hold several times and each call lasts about two hours.
We have spent more than 14 hours trying to get this issue resolved.
We have been bombarded with several phone calls encouraging us to upgrade, yet they still cannot sort an issue out that should take ten minutes.
A) You’d been trying to sort this out for five long months and were baffled as to why it was proving so difficult. You and me both.
I got onto Virgin and, sure enough, your change of ownership was quickly resolved, as it should have been months ago.
Both you and your ex got a better deal for all the trouble you’d experienced.
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We apologise for the delay in processing their request. The matter has now been resolved and we have offered them each a gesture of goodwill for their experience.
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