Problem with a service you bought on or before 28 November 2022
Many people offer services, these can be traders, tradesmen or professionals. Here we use the term ‘service supplier’ to mean any person who supplies a service as a business or part of a business.
This page explains your consumer rights if you bought a service on or before 28 November 2022.
Your rights as a consumer
When you hire someone to perform a service, you are making a contract. As parties to the contract, you and the other party have certain legal rights and obligations. If the person you hired does not do what they said they would under a contract, they are in breach of the contract.
Consumer contracts in place before 1 November 2022 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:
- The supplier has the necessary skill to provide the service
- The service will be provided with proper care and diligence
- The materials used will be sound
- Any goods supplied with the service will be of merchantable quality
In a service contract, at the very least, make sure that you know the price of the service and the time that it will take to complete the agreed work.
Do you have a written contract?
Contracts can be written or verbal and are made up of terms; some of which can be implied terms. Implied terms are not mentioned but are automatically part of a contract because of protections under consumer legislation.
Contracts differ in many ways and there are no hard and fast rules for what terms should be in a consumer contract. However, terms in consumer contracts must always be fair and made clear to you.
While a verbal agreement is as legally binding as a written contract, it is a good idea to have a written agreement to protect you and avoid disagreements later on.
At a minimum, the agreement should describe:
- What services will be supplied
- Timings to complete the work
- The price and the payment schedule
- Any other important aspects
If you are not happy with the service
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. Or they can refund the costs of the service to you.
Here are some general guidelines to help if you are having problems with a service supplier. Get more advice about complaining about building or home improvements.
I am not happy with the standard of work done
To avoid problems, raise any concerns that you have as the work progresses. Where possible, be available for the trader to contact you so that they can raise any issues that come up.
If you are not satisfied with the quality of goods or services you should:
- Act as soon as you can – a delay can indicate that you have accepted faulty services
- Do not attempt to repair what went wrong yourself or give it to anyone else to repair it
- Make sure that you have a proof of purchase (a receipt, cheque stub, credit card statement or invoice)
- Keep all evidence of damage caused by poor work, for example take photos
Some service suppliers offer a warranty or guarantee for the service they provide. This is their promise about the quality of their services and what they will do if there are problems. Check any warranty or guarantee to see if it covers the problem.
If you are in dispute with the service supplier about whether the work is of poor quality, look for an independent third-party opinion.
I have been misled by the service provider
You have the right to receive accurate and truthful information about services. A service supplier is not allowed to mislead you to convince you to hire them.
You can cancel the contract if:
- You were misled or deceived by claims made by the service supplier
- The service supplier misled you about an essential term or condition in the contract (including quotations and other promises about timescales or about the results to be achieved)
Some examples of misleading claims include:
- The service has uses or benefits that it does not have
- The service is of a particular standard or quality when it is not
- The service supplier has an approval, status or professional designation that they do not have
- You are getting a special price or benefit when they are really offering the same thing that you can get somewhere else
You can read more about rules banning misleading advertising.
Can I withhold money if I am not happy with the service?
It can be tempting to withhold money to help with negotiations where you are in dispute with a service supplier. However, withholding money could put you in breach of your contract.
A service supplier can:
- Use a collection agency to collect outstanding payments on their behalf
- Take legal action against you and you would be in a weaker position if you wanted to take your dispute further
Where to get more help
You can read more about how to make a complaint.
You can get advice and help from one of the trade and representative organisations listed here. However, there are many service suppliers who are not members of any trade or professional body.
If you have used the traders complaints procedure and the problem is still not resolved, you can use the small claims procedure (for jobs less than €2,000) or taking a civil case (for claims over €2,000).
Check your home insurance policy to see whether it covers you for legal expenses for contract disputes with service suppliers.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) can give you information on your rights if you have problems with a service or a service provider.
If you have a dispute with an Irish-based service supplier, you can contact the CCPC for advice and support.
Find out more about consumer protection organisations.