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 expertCut your energy bills with these six tips to beat the cold snap
BEAT the big freeze and make your home more energy efficient.
With the lockdown meaning we’re all at home more, heating bills are a worry for many.
But following these six simple tips can cut costs and even boost your home’s value. You can find out more at energysavingtrust.org.uk.
Many of the ways to save money
are really cheap to implement
1) Lag your loft: Insulating your loft costs around £300 to £400 but you will get the cash back in around two years through lower energy bills. Use insulation at least 270mm thick.
2) Draught-proof: Do both windows and doors for maximum impact. Door draught excluders start at less than £4 while window weather strips are as little as £2.50. Try Screwfix or a builders’ merchant.
3) Fit curtains as well as blinds: Big curtains are back in fashion, so not only will your room look stylish, you will keep heat in too. Close them at dusk for maximum warmth and open them when the sun comes up to let heat back in. Dunelm.com has an affordable range.
4) Let heat circulate: Move heavy furniture away from your radiators. Shelving above? Add foil to the bottom to reflect heat into the room.
By insulating your loft you can lower costs and earn back the outlay
5) Bleed your radiators regularly: This costs nothing to do but will ensure your radiators work efficiently. For a handy guide on how to do it see uswitch.com/energy-saving/guides/how-to-bleed-a-radiator.
6) Insulate pipes and tanks: These lose heat quickly so fit lagging to keep them warmer for longer.
Deal of the week
Snap up a Manchester apartment for a bargain price
BUY ’ECC! The town in Greater Manchester with a cake named after it, Eccles, has seen the nation’s biggest asking price growth in the last year according to Rightmove – up 16 per cent.
You can snap up a tasty one-bed apartment in the building above for £120,000 at rightmove.co.uk/properties/73259316.
Buy of the week
These trays are really useful to store your cleaning equipment
GOING into full Mrs Hinch mode on your home for the new year?
Get organised with this £1.50 cleaning supplies box from bmstores.co.uk.
SAVE: £3 on similar items elsewhere
Judge Rinder helps a reader out who is chasing a county court judgment
Q) I GOT a county court judgement against a certain person in February 2020, entitling me to the sum claimed as well as fixed costs and interest.
This person seems to know the system as I have since discovered they have three other unsatisfied records against them and may have changed address.
Are they legally bound to inform the court of their new address? If not, how do I enforce payment? Jane, Tyne and Wear
A) It is up to you to ensure the judgment and enforcement proceedings are properly issued against this nasty person. You are not required to conduct some sort of Perry Mason investigation to find his whereabouts.
The court’s order must be served at the defendant’s last known address. So your first step is to ensure the judgment was correctly sent to this person (the address he submitted in response to the proceedings you brought is the starting point).
If he has vanished, you could (and perhaps should) spend some time and money instructing an inquiry agent who would probably have no difficulty finding this man.
As soon as the agents have a confirmed address, proceedings can begin and, if necessary, court bailiffs can get involved.
You must be tough here. Too many people let it slide and defendants get off scot-free.
Q) ON October 16 I took a faulty laptop back to the store where I bought it. I had its care-plan insurance so was entitled to an e-voucher for the purchase price if the firm was unable to repair it.
It turns out the laptop was irreparable so I asked for the e-voucher. I was told I would get it within three days but nothing appeared.
It took until early November to get in touch with the repair facility again and I was then told there was a problem with my e-voucher as they had two mobile phone numbers listed against my repair – mine and one I did not recognise.
The voucher was supposedly sent to the other one.
I was told the company had to carry out checks to see if I or my family had a connection to this number and would get back to me within a couple of working days.
I called the police to say I might be a victim of fraud. They said this was not in their remit and passed me on to Trading Standards – on whose advice I sent a recorded-delivery letter to the store’s customer services director asking for a response by December 20. Again nothing.
I’m 73 and stuck at home due to Covid. I really need that laptop. Peter, Milton Keynes
Judge Rinder attempts to help a reader out with laptop problems
A) You have done everything correctly so far. By the sound of it, you are entitled by law to a replacement laptop, a full repair or a voucher like the one this firm offered as part of its insurance package.
I do not understand why this company is attempting to deny this on the basis of some erroneous suggestion there are two mobile phone numbers on the account.
This seems to me, as you say, a rather alarming attempt to fob you off.
Write to the MD of the firm making clear that your statutory consumer rights are in no way affected by the phone numbers on the account and demand a full refund or a voucher.
If the company refuses, I suggest you publicise precisely what has happened and take the company to the small claims court. The law is on your side.
Mel Hunter, Consumer champion
Mel steps in to deal with a holiday nightmare
Q) LAST summer we rented a boat on the Norfolk Broads with Hoseasons for £1,500.
We set off in horrendous weather and as we moored, my husband lost his footing and fell, hitting the dockside before rolling into the water.
He was rescued by two people from another boat. He injured his leg, arm and side.
We took the boat back as my husband was unable to continue. He later collapsed at home, though fortunately made a recovery.
We had insurance via Hoseasons but since that day the only way we have been able to contact the company is on Facebook.
We can’t get through by phone or email and they won’t answer questions or offer help. One employee said they would send insurance forms but nothing arrived.
We have no way of making a claim unless we get that paperwork. Gillian, Peterborough
A) Before contacting me, you tried every which way to get hold of Hoseasons, to no avail.
When you spoke directly to the insurance company, it said the claim had to come from Hoseasons.
What’s more, you believed there was a 14-day limit on lodging the claim that had long passed.
I was able to get through to the right person at Hoseasons and asked them to send you all the information you needed. I am pleased to say the firm went one better, refunding the full cost of your ruined holiday.
It should now be much easier to get through to the company on the phone.
A spokesperson for Hoseasons said: “We understand how distressing it is when a customer has to cut short their break due to an accident.
“That’s why cancellation and curtailment protection is included in the price of all our boat bookings.
“We have apologised to the customer for the delay in handling this case and processed a full refund as a gesture of goodwill.”
Mel Hunter helps out a reader with his energy bills
Q) I HAVE a dual gas-electric account with Scottish Power. The outstanding bill I was given is £4,600.
Until I had a new gas meter fitted in December 2019, I was able to claim back overpayments.
Scottish Power agrees the bill is wrong but I can’t get it to rectify the situation.
The amount of money owing against my name has caused me great worry.
I can’t swap to another supplier with a cheaper tariff due to this situation. Mike, Barnsley
A) You were stuck with Scottish Power until it sorted this out for you – but despite numerous conversations and emails, your fuel account remained thousands in arrears.
I put a rocket up the supplier and got things moving. It turned out your new meter already (wrongly) had 9,000 units on it, suggesting you were guzzling gas.
The firm cancelled the £4,600 bill and recalculated it to £519.
It also gave you £150 as a goodwill gesture and said: “We would like to apologise for the significant error on Mr Dawson’s energy bill.”
GOT a story? RING HOAR on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]