EVERY Saturday, The Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Amanda Cable will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, Maddy Tooke rounds up the best coupons to save you money and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
Stewart Williams – The Sun Jane Hamilton gives tips on living arrangements
HARRY and Meghan had already been crowned the top royal trendsetters – and now the new parents are following fashion with their living arrangements.
Meghan’s revelation that mum Doria is living with the couple while they learn to look after baby Archie means they are part of a housing phenomenon – the multi-generational home.
New research from eBay reveals 18 per cent of us are living in a home with three or more generations under one roof.
But while Harry and Meghan have the run of Windsor Castle and spacious Frogmore Cottage – which recently had a £3million refurbishment – most of us have humbler abodes.
Getty – Contributor Meghan and Prince Harry also have her mum Doria living with them now baby Archie has been born
So here’s how to make it work . . .
1) If you can manage it, give everyone spaces they can call their own. Allow each family member to decorate to suit their individual taste.
2) Budget permitting, make the most of your space by building a garden room. Or convert the attic or garage to give more square footage without losing your garden.
3) If you don’t have the budget to make structural changes to your property, utilise room dividers in larger rooms to create separate zones for different family members. They cost from just £30.
4) The bathroom is a space every family member needs to use, so ensure it caters for all ages, heights and mobility. A wet room with a non-slip floor could be a good compromise to ensure that it is suitable for all family members.
5) Maximising storage is key when you have several generations under one roof, especially if you’ve all brought possessions from previous houses. If you have a limited budget, utilise smart spaces such as under the bed or on top of freestanding wardrobes. Consider built-in storage.
Buy of the week
Jane Hamilton’s buy of the week
WANT to rub shoulders with the new royal parents?
The average house price in Windsor is a hefty £592,963 but this one-bed flat in Mountbatten Square, in the sought-after royal ward near the castle, is an affordable £225,000.
Cut VAT on extensions campaignA THIRD of home-owners are paying cash to avoid paying VAT on home improvements, a shock study from the HomeOwners Alliance has found.
The top excuse for VAT-dodgers was that they could not afford alterations if they had to pay 20 per cent tax on top.
The Alliance is now campaigning for VAT costs on home improvements to be slashed to five per cent so more Brits can afford the work and to boost Treasury takings.
Find out more at https://hoa.org.uk/campaigns/cut-vat-on-extensions.
Deal of the week
Jane Hamilton’s deal of the week
TURN off your spending tap.
If you’re splashing out on a luxury-look freestanding bath, this 1,700 x 750mm beauty costs just £319.97 at bathroomtakeaway.com compared to an average of £700 on the High Street.
Judge Rinder helps a reader with a health issue
Q) LAST September I got a letter saying I owed £224.26 to a catalogue firm.
I didn’t think anything of it, as I never had an account with them and certainly would not get into debt. But a week later I got a letter threatening bailiffs and court action.
I rang up and learned some bar stools had been bought from them using my dad’s credit card and my name.
I believe my dad’s partner opened the account in my name, which is identity fraud.
The firm will not accept I didn’t open the account and, although my father is sorting out the payment, the debt will go against my credit score. Is there anything I can do to sort this out? EMILY, Wolverhampton
A) Yes, you are a victim of identity fraud.
I understand if you have chosen not to tell the police, especially as your dad has settled the debt, but whoever opened this account without your permission committed a serious criminal offence – and I suspect this is not the first time they did something like this.
I am not sure this will affect your credit score because, although the account was in your name, your dad’s credit card was stored as the preferred payment method.
Contact the two major credit-rating agents, Equifax and Experian, and see if there is a report about this relating to your name.
If there is and your score has been reduced, you can make representations including providing correspondence between you and the catalogue company.
Often these agencies are reasonable and, in circumstances like this, will remove a negative report.
Lost in postQ) ON holiday in India my friend Jane bought jewellery from a retailer who agreed to post it to her home in the UK.
On her return from holiday, Jane had a heart attack and was in hospital for many weeks, during which time a courier left a card saying the driver was unable to deliver her parcel.
When she was home and we contacted the courier, eventually they admitted they had lost the parcel, after first claiming it had been returned to India.
Now the courier is refusing to cover the £100 loss of the items, claiming there is no contract between them and Jane so she is not eligible for compensation.
Is this true, given they admit losing the parcel? JANET, Watford
A) This is complex, particularly because of the international aspects of the transaction.
Most courier firms make clear that they are not liable for damage or loss of parcels, which is why it costs consumers extra to purchase insurance for sending expensive packages.
Email them, repeating the admission of the staff member who accepted liability for the loss, and making clear your friend expects a full refund or will consider legal proceedings and alert social media about the firm.
Q) I was sub-letting a pub from a brewery and all was well until I had £5,000 stolen and got into financial difficulty.
The brewery threw me out, claiming they gave me 28 days’ notice even though I did not receive any letters from them.
They agreed to let me keep my belongings in the basement until I could move them.
But about three weeks later, all my stuff was thrown out – personal belongings, files and records.
I don’t know if it was the brewery or the new sub-letters who did it. Do I have any legal case against the person who got rid of my property? ANDREW, Yorkshire
A reader’s time running a pub came to an abrupt and unhappy end
A) I am very troubled by this. I simply don’t understand how the brewery evicted you without giving you written notice when it was legally obliged to.
Once you vacated the pub, the brewery had a legal duty to give you a reasonable opportunity to collect your belongings and was certainly not allowed to get rid of your things without telling you.
You may certainly have a legal case against the brewery. This is likely to be a strong one unless it can prove you refused to act reasonably and it gave you a fair chance to take your stuff.
It will be up to the brewery to prove it was lawfully entitled to dispose of your things without your consent.
Write it a strong letter, listing what is missing and making clear you expect compensation for all the items that are gone.
If it refuses to engage with you, then you may have to issue proceedings in the Small Claims Court.
Judge Rinder regrets he cannot answer questions personally. Answers intended as general guidance. They do not constitute legal advice and are not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice.
Got a question for Judge Rinder? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mel Hunter, Reader’s champion
The Sun Mel Hunter advises on consumer issues
Q) LAST summer we bought a fridge freezer from Currys, explaining it was to replace the one we keep in the garage.
They delivered and installed it. Just before Christmas I noticed that the food in the freezer had started to defrost.
Currys told us that model should not have been put in an outbuilding. We had not been advised of this by the assistant when we bought it.
We were told we had been mis-sold the product and to go back to the store for a replacement.
We thought the store was sorting it out but when we chased again six weeks later we were told we wouldn’t get a replacement as the sales assistant claimed that he had given us the correct advice.
My honesty has been called into question and I have a £270 fridge freezer that I can’t use. JAN MILES, Brighton
A) You were understandably cheesed off that your appliance failed after just a few months.
Currys claimed you should have found out from its website that the item isn’t to be used in an outbuilding.
However, you argue that since you bought the item in store, you should have been fully informed by the sales assistant.
With me on the case, Currys did agree to refund you, so you can get a more suitable appliance.
Getty – Contributor Jane stepped in to help solve readers’ problems
Q) SINCE I changed to Solarplicity in May 2018 I have been unable to register my electricity readings online.
Solarplicity told me to contact them whenever I tried to register the readings, which I have been trying to do for months without any success.
I have left readings by telephone but still have not been billed for my electricity. JULIE MCTEER, Hartlepool
A) Solarplicity could have been much more helpful here, helping you sort out the problem before I got involved.
However, the main issue appears to be that your previous supplier had registered the wrong type of meter with the national database.
A Solarplicity spokesman told me: “This meant the industry never accepted the customer readings as they were for the wrong type of meter and thus we could not bill her.
“We managed to get these details changed and now all bills have been issued.”
FRAUD FAIL Bank transfer name-check delay could cost fraud victims £400,000 a day FAST FOOD The codes that give you MASSIVE discounts on takeaway this weekend CASHING IN Rare and most valuable 20p coins that could be worth up to £750 FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD Frankie & Benny’s adds 26 dishes to menu including a breakfast PIZZA ExclusiveCHIPS ARE DOWN How KFC and Burger King underfill packets of chips by 9% FASHION FAIL Women’s fashion chain Select goes bust putting 1,800 jobs at risk
Maddy Tooke, Coupon Queen
John McLellan Maddy Tooke shares her best high street deals
My top five freebies this week
New Topcashback.co.uk members get £15 free spend at eBay when signing up through bit.ly/15tcbebay. Expires May 20.
Get a free lipstick of your choice from MAC when you return six of its empty packaging containers. See bit.ly/backtomacfree.
Free tennis sessions and coaching, available May 18-19, July 20-21 and September 28-29. Book at bit.ly/freetennislta.
Free Rituals’ Magic Touch body cream sample from Debenhams for Beauty Club members. Just show your Beauty Club card at the fragrance counter.
Choose from a range of free Open University courses. See bit.ly/openunifree
Top 10 deals
Prezzo features in our top deals of the week
Get £10 off orders over £50 from Arena Flowers with code 10OFF50AFF. Valid today only. See bit.ly/10off50flowers.
Save ten per cent on Groupon Local deals and getaways. Get code at bit.ly/10offgrouponlocal. Valid today only.
Get 20 per cent off JD Williams orders over £50 and wow in sizes 10-32 for less. Use code MORE3. Expires June 1. See bit.ly/20jdwilliams.
Save 20 per cent on orders from Mountain Warehouse with code EXTRA20 from Vouchercloud.com. See bit.ly/20offmountainwarehouse. Expires May 23
Save 15 per cent on online Goldsmiths orders with unique Vouchercodes code from bit.ly/15offgoldsmiths. Expires May 19.
At Paperchase, save £5 on orders over £25 with code MAYFIVE or save £10 on orders over £50 with code MAYTEN. Offer expires Tuesday. See bit.ly/paperchasediscount.
Buy one main course, get a second for £1 at Prezzo until May 23. Use in-restaurant voucher from bit.ly/prezzo1main.
Get 25 per cent off The Works orders over £10 with code SPRING25 from Vouchercodes.co.uk. Ends May 30. See bit.ly/25theworks.
Get free L’Occitane The Love Collection gift, worth £21.50, with orders over £50 until May 31 with code AVC139. See bit.ly/freeloccitanegift.
Buy one get one half price at The Body Shop. Use code 19812 at the checkout. Expires May 24 at 9am. See bit.ly/halfpricehairbodyshop.
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