If you are not satisfied with goods or services that you have paid for, you have certain legal rights. If you have a tangible product, you should be able to return this to the shop and you may be entitled to a refund, replacement or repair. It can be harder to “return” a service, but you still have legal rights if you are unhappy with what you have been provided with. The law in Northern Ireland states that you can ask for the service provider to redo the service if they are able to, or to offer a partial refund. However, it is worth noting that they do not have to give you a refund or redo the work if you have previously accepted that the work was done to a high enough standard.
The law states that you must give them the opportunity to redo the work, however you may ask for a discount or partial refund if any of the following criteria can be applied; it is not practical to redo the work; it would be very inconvenient for the work to be redone; or if it would take too long for the work to be redone. In other circumstances, the trader may offer you a partial discount rather than re-doing the work, although they are not legal bound to do so.
What if you do not notice the problem straight away?
In some cases, a problem may not become evident until later on down the line. For example, if you get someone to help you to move house, you might not notice that all of your ornaments are broken until you come round to unpacking them later. In Northern Ireland, you are entitled to ask the trader to put things right for you up until 6 years after the work was completed. The longer that you leave it before notifying the trader, the more options that they will have available to them to make it up to you.
If the work was completed on or after 1st October 2015, you can quote the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to them, which states that all services must be provided with a reasonable level of care and skill. You should ask them to fix the problem or offer a price reduction to you. Before issuing you with a reduction, the trader should agree with you about what will be given. You should be prepared to explain to them what you believe is a reasonable reduction based on your experience of the service.
The law states that all work must be done within a reasonable amount of time, although reasonable is not adequately defined. If you have agreed that the work should be rectified or redone, you should agree on what constitutes a reasonable amount of time with the trader. “Reasonable” may depend on the services which are being provided i.e. larger tasks will take much longer to reorganise and redo.
Alternative Dispute Resolutions
If you cannot come to an agreement with the trader or service provider, then you may have to seek alternative dispute resolutions. If it is a larger company, you can try to address the issue by going through their formal complaints process. You may also choose a mediation or adjudication service from a provider such as Trading Standards or Citizen’s Advice. These organisations can offer a third party mediator who will try to work between both parties to come up with a fair and workable solution.
As a last option, you may consider taking the trader to the small claims court; however you could be stuck with charges if the trader wins the case.