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.
WE are getting used to initiatives telling us how to keep our homes warm, such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Green Homes Grant.
But with searing heatwaves and “tropical nights” becoming more frequent as the climate changes, what is the best way to cool down your pad?
Here are my five top tips to get you started.
1 ) Install insulation. This might seem counter-intuitive but insulation works by preventing the passage of heat – so it stops heat coming in, as well as out.
2 ) Paint it white. There is a reason homes in Mediterranean countries are painted white. The shade reflects warmth.
It is very effective on south-facing walls and roofs if you don’t want to paint the entire house.
You could also invest in white curtains and blinds to reflect heat away from windows.
3 ) Turn off electrical appliances. All household gadgets and appliances generate heat, so if you don’t need to use something, switch it off.
Consider cooking outside on a barbecue to keep down heat levels indoors.
4 ) Design shade into your garden. Trailing ivy over a wooden trellis or pergola is a quick way to add shade to any garden.
If you have space, plant a fruit tree, as you will get tasty fruit as well as a cool shady spot to sit in.
5 ) Retrofit air-con. Installation can be pricey, at around £1,000 per indoor unit. But they make upstairs rooms such as loft conversions much more comfortable in a heatwave.
But remember, air-conditioning systems must be installed and maintained by a registered gas engineer.
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A SIX-FOOT emu called Ethel went on the run in Doncaster this week after escaping from her enclosure. Luckily she’s now home.
If you fancy your own roost in the South Yorks town – less than two hours by train from London – a smart two-bedroom semi-detached is just £125,000 at onthemarket.com/details/8920465.
FLORAL-print crockery is a blooming summer trend and perfect for outdoor dining.
Argos’ Home Botanist 12-piece dinner set was £25 but is now just £7.50
Q) I WORK for a building firm and a customer is refusing to pay.
We did some work for him and after a while his shower leaked, which the supplier said was due to the shower holes being blocked with scale.
We told him he should go through his insurance but he didn’t want to. We went back and did the repairs.
He said in an email we did a good job when the shower was fitted but now he won’t pay the bill we sent.
He tried to get the shower company to pay but they gave us a report on the scaled shower head and said it was due to lack of maintenance.
Should we go through the small claims court? Shelley, Kent
A) This is a thorny legal problem.
When your customer ordered his shower head, he asked your firm to supply it – which means your customer had no contractual relationship with the manufacturer or the supplier.
Although the manufacturer was under a legal obligation to ensure you did not install a defective part, in all likelihood the buck stops with you here.
That is not the end of the matter, however.
Both your firm and the manufacturer could claim your customer has failed to act reasonably by not cleaning the shower head (so has caused the problem).
But if the issue emerged relatively soon after it was installed, your best bet is to offer to provide this customer a new shower head or a refund.
This will probably cost far less than the time and stress of bringing proceedings.
One important caveat: If you completed this build some time ago and are sure the supplier provided you with a dud part, you could bring a claim. But it seems to me you would be better off avoiding this at all costs.
Q) MY husband and I sold our apartment, completing on June 26.
Since then we have been hounded by the property management company for the maintenance fee for July 1 to December 31, when clearly the new owner is responsible.
I phoned many times to get the error sorted and sent many emails, which have not been replied to. We are now incurring late-payment charges and today have received a final demand.
We are at our wits’ end. What if bailiffs are sent to our new property or our credit score is hit? Jayne, London
A) First, triple-check you do not owe these fees. Some contracts stipulate that people are legally responsible for fees even after they have sold their property and moved out.
If you are certain you do not owe this money (and it sounds like you are), do not panic.
Write to the managing director of the management company, including your contract, and make clear that unless they instruct their appointed company to cancel this debt, you will be reporting them to their regulator – and that given the serious stress this has caused, you are also considering bringing legal action against them.
Be tough, persistent and calm. This is ultimately a matter for the management company to bring to court and to prove to a judge that you owe the money. It is not for you to prove anything.
Q) BACK in March, I learned my washing machine was part of the Whirlpool recall.
The letter I got said I could still use the machine on some settings but I didn’t want to do that.
I guessed things were at a standstill due to Covid. I was told I was on a waiting list – then that my machine was out of stock.
They offered to leave a new machine on my doorstep but that’s no good as I live alone and am in my seventies.
I am a patient person but I am at a loss why they can’t give me a date. I don’t mind a different machine. I just want one that works. Yvonne, East Sussex
A) In January, Whirlpool started recalling up to 500,000 Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines because of a potential fire hazard.
The recall continued during the lockdown period and, indeed, a statement on the Whirlpool website said installations were continuing, albeit in line with government guidelines of safe distancing.
So I questioned why you had been left high and dry. Whirlpool was soon on the phone to you and a week later, you had a brand-new machine, plumbed in and ready to go.
Yesterday Whirlpool told me: “We are very sorry for the misunderstanding which led to the delay in installing this customer’s replacement washing machine.”
Q) WE should have gone away on holiday in mid-March but our eldest son died suddenly.
I contacted On The Beach, the firm we booked through, who promised to send me a “no show” letter or certificate – explaining we didn’t travel – to pass on to my insurer to complete the claim.
But all contact dried up and I still have no letter. How long does it take to write a note? Derek, Rochdale
A) For months you were waiting to hear from On The Beach but had no luck.
I contacted the travel company and got you the documentation you and your insurer had been waiting for.
I pointed out that if you had travelled in March – during the week the Prime Minister imposed the travel ban – On The Beach might well have faced additional costs to get you back home.
Just having someone listen made a huge difference to you and you kindly said I had restored your faith in human nature after such a difficult time.
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