Every Saturday, 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
MOVING home is costly enough, but new research reveals hidden extras add a huge £670 in additional fees each time we change address.
With Brits moving house an average 5.1 times, the additional outlays – which also include removal vans, storage and cleaning fees – come to £3,417 over a lifetime.
The priciest extra outgoings include buying household items, such as bedding, paying for a postal redirection service and installing new technology, the MoneySuperMarket study found.
Here are our top tips for cutting the cost of your move so you have enough to cover those extras.
1. Declutter before you move. The less stuff you have to shift, the cheaper it will be.
2. Sell anything you don’t need to give you extra cash. Garage sales are an easy way for movers to sell items fast.
3. Find the lowest quote for removers, surveyors and conveyancers on reallymoving.com.
4. Schedule your move for a cheaper day. Avoid the weekend, summer holidays or a Friday for a lower price with removal companies.
5. Pack as much as you can by yourself to cut the cost of packing fees.
6. Don’t have much to move? Hire a man and a van rather than a traditional removals firm, or ask friends to help.
Deal of the week
WHITE geometric vases are the top new interiors trend, with designer versions selling for more than £300.
This beauty is just a quid at Poundland. Snap it up to update your pad today.
SAVE: £299 on designer versions
Buy of the week
WITH the Premier League season back underway this weekend, the area that is home to newly promoted Aston Villa has been revealed as the UK’s top hotspot for buy-to-let investors.
Homes there average a yield of 6.98 per cent, according to lettings platform Bunk.
This one-bed newbuild in Birmingham – complete with communal pool and gym – is close to the Villa Park stadium and is on sale for just £69,995 with a five-year rental guarantee.
- See zoopla.co.uk/new-homes/details/52166119.
Q) I RECENTLY left my job. I had been there less than three months and did not have a contract, as I was due to get that after the three-month trial period.
I am owed £800 in wages which my former employer is refusing to pay, saying he lost revenue due to me leaving. Acas tells me he has no legal right to withhold money owed for hours worked and, as I had been there less than three months, I did not have to give any notice.
I have two text messages from my former employer’s personal phone number saying he is not paying me and I also have proof that I worked for his company, ie, pay slip and pensions emails. How do I go about recovering the money I am owed?
A) The advice you got from Acas appears to be entirely correct. Your ex employer owes you for the hours you worked – whether you signed a contract or not.
You have evidence that clearly indicates how much you received and therefore how much you expected to earn per hour or per week. You also seem to have strong evidence of when you worked, which this ex-employer does not dispute.
Write to your ex-employer demanding payment within 28 days, making clear that you will take this matter to the small claims court if he ignores your letter.
This ex-employer may suggest that he lost money finding someone else when you decided to leave but he will have a hard time justifying this in court. It certainly isn’t a basis to refuse to pay you the money you are owed.
Q) I WENT to a car shop to test drive a car three weeks ago, and the salesman took my licence off me and put it on his desk until I returned with him after the test drive.
However, he failed to return my licence and I didn’t realise until I got home – a 30-mile drive. I have since rung the dealership multiple times and they keep assuring me the licence will be sent but I still haven’t got it back. What can I do?
Keith, Milton Keynes
A) This case is simple. When you left your licence at the showroom, the staff were under a legal duty to take reasonable care of it.
If they have misplaced it, the showroom is bound to compensate you for the cost of obtaining a new one from the DVLA. Email the company asking for the licence to be returned by recorded delivery within two days and explain that if they do not, you will send it a bill for a replacement licence.
If they fail to return the licence or just ignore you, get in touch with the DVLA as soon a possible, notifying them the licence has been lost. Keep a record of your expenses which you should then send to the car company who are legally obliged to refund you.
- Got a question for Judge Rinder? Email [email protected]
I AM 86, a widower and I own my own house. It will become my son’s when I die. Just to make sure, I have made a will in his favour.
My son is trying to divorce his wife but she refuses to sign the divorce papers as she thinks she has some right through marriage to part of my boy’s inheritance. Is this true?
Your son’s wife is right, I am afraid. If your boy inherits money while he is still legally married this would (in all likelihood) become part of the joint marital assets at the time your son and daughter-in-law obtain their divorce.
In other words, this woman would be entitled to 50 per cent of any inheritance your son may get from you.
There are ways of avoiding this (especially as you are aware that your son and daughter-in-law are at the advance stages of separation.)
You might have to put the property into a special trust which specifies that your son is the sole beneficiary – but even this might not cure the problem whilst your boy’s wife continues to refuse to sign the divorce papers.
You need urgent advice from a specialist solicitor. The Law Society can point you in the right direction.
Mel Hunter, Reader's champion
Q) WE recently stayed in a holiday cottage booked through Sykes. We were charged a £300 “good housekeeping” bond paid directly to the owners of the cottage. We were told this would be returned 14 days after our holiday.
After a few days, we received a phone call from Sykes alleging we had broken the TV and forced entry into a locked upstairs cupboard. We strongly deny this. The company said it would forward photos and a copy of the invoice but I have received nothing.
Sykes has advised that I must contact the owner directly but it cannot provide any contact details. I am £300 out of pocket with no justification given and have nowhere else to go.
Bryan Hancock, Edinburgh
A) Accidents happen and that is why some companies and cottage owners charge a fee in case of damage, which is refunded if nothing gets broken. When you left your holiday cottage, you believed you had left it in good order.
So when your £300 was kept without any proof of damage, you were hardly going to let it go. You turned to Sykes, which washed its hands of the situation. Fortunately, with a nudge from me, Sykes did then step in, getting your money back.
A spokesperson for Sykes Holiday Cottages said: “We thank Mr Hancock for bringing this to our attention. Some of our owners use self-managed good housekeeping deposits but we were happy to review Mr Hancock’s case and have organised a refund of the bond, along with a £50 voucher from us to apologise for the delay.”
Q) I BOUGHT a used iPhone 4 for my daughter, from a CeX shop in December 2018, with a warranty for two years.
A few months ago it developed a faulty lock button at the top of the phone. I took it back to my local CeX and, straightaway, the sales assistant agreed he could see it was faulty.
He said they would have to run through the firm’s official test but would be able to offer a voucher for the current phone value as I’d had the phone more than six months. I told him it was not yet six months, which was finally agreed.
I left it to be tested but was later informed it was a “customer-made fault” and not covered by the warranty. I disputed this and believe CeX is trying to get out of its agreement.
The firm did offer to send it off for investigation but I refused, upset that it had suggested we had caused the fault.
Alexa Galley, Oxford
A) CeX’s success is down to its commitment to customer service and consumer rights, which can be lacking when you buy second-hand items elsewhere. Yet your experience threw this into doubt.
With me on the case, the store admitted it was “clearly at fault” and issued a full refund. You have accepted a £20 CeX voucher as a gesture of goodwill.
- Do you have a consumer issue? Email [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article