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 to tenants who want pets
WITH Harry and Meghan’s tot due very soon, the Sussexes are thought to be planning an eco-friendly, gender-neutral nursery.
And they are right on trend, with Pinterest users turning away from traditional pink and blue colour schemes, too.
Here’s how to plan a modern nursery fit for royalty.
Getty – Pool Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are creating a nursery for their unborn child
Choose a background and accessories in neutral grey or bright white. Try: Alaska two-piece grey nursery set, £419.99 at wayfair.co.uk.
Add a pop of colour in green and yellow but use it sparingly for impact. Rugs, chairs, lampshades and frames can help you get the look on a budget. Try: Mustard diamond rug, £24.50 at Mamas & Papas.
Want to be super-inclusive? Rainbow accessories are the latest look for trendy tots. Try: Rainbow wall sticker, £10.50 at notonthehighstreet.com.
Eco-friendly, water-based paints made from natural ingredients don’t give off fumes. They are pricier than standard paint but better for babies. Try: Earthborn Eco-Friendly Eggshell, £17.50 at celticsustainables.co.uk.
Go natural for storage. Wicker and bamboo baskets are easy for small hands to pop toys into and can be sustainably sourced. Try: Woodford rectangular bamboo storage basket, from £3 at Dunelm.
Ditch the Wendy House for a unisex playtent. Try: Amazinggirl teepee play tent, £33.90 at Amazon.
Serena Williams shipped Pampers Nappies across the pond to Meghan Markle
Buy of the week
This two bedroom barn conversion for sale Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire is our ‘buy of the week’
OFFERING space, style and the wow factor, barn conversions regularly top the lists of the UK’s most-wanted properties.
But they can cost seven figures, putting them out of reach of all but the biggest budgets. However, this two-bed bargain barn conversion in Kyrewood, Worcs, is on sale for a far more affordable £230,000 at onthemarket.com/details/5171460
Neighbourhood watchALMOST 30,000 house sales fall through each year due to buyers’ fears over crime in an area, according to insurer Churchill.
The collapsing sales are worth a combined £6.6billion annually.
Homebuyers cite local burglary rates and drug-related crime as their biggest concerns.Churchill’s Craig Rixon said: “Buying a home is a major financial commitment.
“It is important to assess several factors when considering where to live, with the local crime rate being one of them.”
If you are on the hunt for a new home, you can get the lowdown on local crime at police.uk.
Deal of the week
This sidney pendant light is our deal of the week
KEEP it cool in the kitchen by adding pendant lights.
This quick and easy way to update your home is just as good in the bedroom.
Try Sidney Pendant Light, was £60, now £30 at Matalan.SAVE: £30
Judge Rinder helps a reader with a health issue
Q) WE found a rescue dog via Facebook that we decided to rehome. We were asked for a “non-refundable donation of £250” by the charity.
We picked the dog up and it seemed perfectly pleasant but when we got it home its demeanour changed completely, especially towards my husband.
It would lunge for him, snarling, growling, baring its teeth, biting at his feet and indeed did manage to bite his fingers and mine. This behaviour traumatised our other dog.
My husband and I believe that at some point in the dog’s life has been a history of abuse/mistreatment – but whether the rescue centre are aware we have no idea.
The only way of communication with the “administrators” of the rescue site was via Facebook and this was how I had to notify them of the problems we were having and make an urgent request that the dog would have to be returned.
Following this I did broach the possibility of at least a partial refund, at which point the site took me off its “friend” list and declined to make any contact with me.
Can the charity keep the “donation”, which was more like a fee as it wasn’t voluntary? Should there be a cooling off period? Mary, Derby
Getty – Contributor How enforceable is a non-refundable donation?
A) This is a difficult one, I’m afraid.
Because the charity made clear that your donation was non-refundable, it is unlikely that you are legally entitled to your money back.
You need to do a little bit of investigative work in this case, nevertheless.
Although you appear to be unable to communicate with the charity via Facebook, its terms and conditions for adopting dogs should be available online. I would check these with care.
I am concerned that this charity describes the money that it asks for from potential adopters as a “donation” as opposed to a “fee”, as this may be misleading.
I am also troubled that you may have been given inadequate or even false information about the dog.
If this is the case then you could legitimately demand your money back as the charity would have been guilty of a rather serious legal misrepresentation.
Q) I AM an agency worker who has been in work with the same firm for the past three years.
I have had various roles including management but do not have a permanent contract.
The company is moving location and there will be redundancies.
If they decide to get rid of me, do I have any rights, or can they just get rid of me without any payoff or consultation? Ian, Huddersfield
A) Yes, you do have rights. You are without question an employee of this firm regardless of the roles that you have had.
It is irrelevant that you do not have a contract.
You would be entitled to statutory redundancy pay and possibly more if your employer decides that you are no longer required.
Get in touch with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Q) I HAVE legal power of attorney and am the executor of my mother’s will.
She is in a care home, which I pay for out of the proceeds of her house that we sold when she went into care.
Myself and my two brothers are the only living people named in her will – but my third brother, who passed away a year ago, is also named.
Will my late brother’s only daughter be entitled to his share of the money and when the inevitable happens do I just draw out the remaining money (which is in my name) and give my brothers and myself an equal share (and my niece if she inherits her late father’s share), or do I have to appoint a solicitor? Heather, Sussex
Alamy Being the executor of a will is a big responsibility
A) As the executor of the will you have what is called in law a “fiduciary duty” to ensure your mother’s wishes are carried out.
This means that if you get this wrong and fail to ensure your niece receives any portion of your mother’s estate she may be entitled to, then your niece could take you to court.
This case will depend entirely on what the will states but how the funds are ultimately apportioned might also be affected by other things.
By the sound of it, this should be a pretty straightforward will to administer.
However, given the likely value of the estate, I would urge you to get legal advice to ensure that you get this legally right.
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) I SOLD a restored 1950s paraffin heater on eBay in November and used Hermes to deliver it, paying for insurance and a signature.
At the beginning of January, I noticed that I had been left negative feedback by the man I’d sent the heater to. He said he’d never received it.
He’d asked for it to be sent to a shop near his home, but the owner showed him CCTV and nothing had been dropped at the supposed delivery time. He tried to track it down before giving it up for lost and leaving the feedback.
Hermes tried to insist it had been taken to another shop nearby and signed for, but they won’t give either the buyer or me proof of this.
I put in a claim for the lost parcel but was told I could not claim as more than 28 days had passed.
I contacted Paypal to see if I could give the buyer his money back, but they said I had fulfilled my end of the bargain.
I refunded him anyway out of my own pocket.
So who has the parcel? Hermes doesn’t seem to care. John Carlton, West Yorks
Getty – Contributor Hermes issued an apology for the missing parcel
A) You were still keen to track down your parcel. But that wasn’t to be – it had been lost while in Hermes’s hands.
A Hermes spokesman said: “Unfortunately, this item has gone missing and we apologise to Mr Carlton for any inconvenience caused.”
Hermes reimbursed you for the full value of the item plus delivery charge.
Unfortunately, it couldn’t repay all the hard work and care you’d put into restoring this item.
The spokesman added: “We’d like to remind customers they have up to 28 days from the date of the order to make any claim.”
I would like to remind Hermes that it should have delivered the item in the first place.
Q) WE have been with Scottish Power since moving to our two-bed bungalow two years ago.
Last year we were surprised to receive a refund of £84 following a review.
Then we received an email on New Year’s Day saying our monthly direct debit was going up to £196 because our account had gone from £2,000 in credit to £2,000 in debt.
Scottish Power then said it looked like we had not paid anything for three years.
The higher payment of £196 was taken, which got refunded. But now they say we have to start paying the extra from May. Trevor and Linda Howells, Burton-on-Trent, Staffs
A) Scottish Power had clearly made a mistake here, not least because it said you hadn’t made any payments for three years, despite having had a direct debit set up since you moved in.
I asked the energy company to investigate and, sure enough, the error was theirs.
It turns out the previous owner of your home had disputed his final bill and this had had a knock-on effect on your account.
Scottish Power wiped the £215.32 actually outstanding on your account and applied a goodwill payment of £100 on top.
A spokesman told me: “We sincerely apologise to the Howells for any stress this matter has caused.”
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Maddy Tooke, Coupon Queen
John McLellan Maddy Tooke shares her best high street deals
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