Services can range from getting a hair cut to having a house built. As a consumer you have rights when you purchase a service but there are no hard and fast rules. Every case is different and the solution to a problem with a service will depend on the circumstances of the case. Many people offer services, these can be traders, tradesmen or professionals, here we use the term service supplier to indicate any person who supplies a service as a business or part of a business. Here are some general guidelines that may help you to avoid problems when you purchase a service.
When you engage a service supplier you create a contract between you, as a consumer, and the service supplier. A contract is an agreement between two or more people that is enforceable by law. Contracts may be written or oral and are made up of terms; some of which can be implied terms. Contracts may differ in many ways and there are no hard and fast rules governing what terms should be in a consumer contract. Terms in consumer contracts, however, must always be fair and clear to the consumer. Anyone involved in the contract should be clear about what their obligations are under the terms of the contract.
Consumer contracts are protected by the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980.
If you have a contract with a service supplier you can expect that:
In a service contract, at the very least, you should ensure that you know the price of the service and the time that it will take to complete the agreed work.
Consumers, when they buy goods and services are protected by The European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) Regulations, 1995. This means that any term or implied term in a consumer contract that is found to be unfair to the consumer is null and void. Find out more about Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts here.
When you choose a service supplier what you need to take into account will depend on the service being provided. The following general advice may be useful to you in choosing a service provider.
If things go wrong it is always the service supplier who should put things right. As a general rule, the service supplier can repair or replace the service. Alternatively they can refund the costs of the service to the consumer. If you are not satisfied with the quality of goods or services you should
It is obviously better to avoid problems so raise any concerns that you may have as the work progresses. Where possible, make yourself available for the trader to contact you so that he or she can raise any issues that come up.
If you need to make a complaint read this advice on making a complaint in advance. You may get advice and help from one of the trade and representative organisations listed here.
If you have exhausted the traders complaints mechanism you can take your claim to the Small Claims Court.
There is a small fee to take a case to the Small Claims Court which is non refundable. The National Consumer Agency will give advice for free but you should check with any other organisation if they charge for their services.
The National Consumer Agency can give you information on your rights if you have problems with a service or a service provider.
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.