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Pricewatch: Tiling woes, water leaks, communication problems with Tesco Mobile and flying high with Aer Lingus customers

On the tiles: Unhappy with wrong grout
A reader from Dublin called Ian and his wife recently bought new floor tiles for their kitchen, hall and downstairs bathroom at Right Price tiles in Fonthill in Dublin and were happy with the price they paid and the value they found.

“They had tiles on display that we really liked,” he writes, “and when we bought them we asked for the same colour grout that was in the display tiles.”

A few days later Ian collected the tiles and the adhesive and the grout. He says the bag the grout came in was a plain white plastic bag and the only marking was the words “light grey” in marker, which was handwritten. “I was doing the tiling job myself, I am not a professional tiler, I’m an electrician, but I would normally do most work around the house,” he explains.

Ian then tiled the kitchen floor and grouted it but when the grout dried out, it was almost white, which was a completely different colour to the one he says they picked.


“The colour on the display was a much darker grey. As a result, the tiles looked awful. The following day my wife went back to the shop and explained the situation to the manager. They immediately took responsibility and said they would get it sorted,” he says.

Fair enough, we thought.

It was a Sunday and the shop said they would contact the couple during the following week. Ian’s wife then spoke to the shop the next day and was told it was sending out a tiler on the Thursday or Friday to remove the grout from the tiles.

“I rang the shop and spoke to the manager and said I didn’t think it was a good idea to try to remove the grout as the joint between each tile was only 2mm and I don’t believe it can be done without damaging the tiles. As far as I’m aware, they usually use an angle grinder or something similar to try to remove the grout, and the abrasive disc would damage the tiles as the joints were so small,” he says.

No problem
He also told the manager that it would cause "a huge amount of dust" and there were two young children in the home including a 16-month-old baby.

“I told the guy on the phone the only way to do the job properly was to remove the old tiles and relay them. They would not agree to this and insisted their tiler was used to doing this and would have no problem doing it. I wasn’t happy with this but, after a bit of arguing on the phone, agreed to let him try.”

On Thursday the shop rang to say the job would be done on Friday. “We arranged for someone to be in the house all day Friday; the tiler never arrived. I tried to contact him many times but he did not answer the phone. My wife rang the shop. They told her he was stuck on a job but would definitely be out Saturday. He came on Saturday, I was not there, I was working,” Ian says .

The tiler told Ian the job could not be done as the tiles had been laid incorrectly. “As I said, I’m not a professional tiler, but I was more than happy with the job I had done and so was my wife. It wasn’t 100 per cent perfect but it was a decent job.”

His wife contacted the shop and, according to Ian, they were very dismissive and just kept saying they couldn’t do anything as the tiles were not laid properly. “I rang the shop myself and tried to reason with them. I asked to speak to a manager, they gave me the number for their head office in Cork. I rang but they said that particular person was out of the office.”

He said the house was “like a bomb site”. His wife rang the shop again and asked for a refund for the tiles and the adhesive that had been laid so far and said the couple would carry out the rest of the work. They said they couldn’t do anything until head office opened again on Monday. Eventually the shop said the couple could have a 15 per cent refund.

At this point they contacted Pricewatch and we contacted Right Price tiles. A spokesman said that, in his view, the tiling work done by our reader was “obviously very poor”. He sent us images of the work done to prove his point.

He also said the grout was “obviously not ‘almost white’ and said “it seems to match the tile quite well”. Then he questioned the wisdom of tiling with 2mm spaces.

“The boxes state they should be tiled with 5mm spaces. Our display has 5mm spaces. We could remove the grout if the spaces were 5mm; 2mm is too tight as we would damage the tiles,” he said.

By this point Pricewatch knew more about tiling then we ever thought we would. And it was time for us to put on our Judge Judy costume.

It seems to us that both our reader and Right Price Tiles are a bit right and a bit wrong, and both have made mistakes over the course of this transaction. The wrong grout was sold – and it did look pretty white to us (and to colleagues we showed it to) so that is a problem. But then the job done by our reader does not appear to have been done to the highest standards, not least because of the whole 2mm/5mm business.

But the people at Right Price Tiles and the reader seemed quite reasonable and, after our intercession, the shop agreed to refund Ian half of the €410 he had spent on tiles and materials in cash or give him a €300 credit note. He was delighted to accept the credit note.

Charging trouble: Tesco Mobile prove difficult to contact
A reader called Nicola bought a phone from Tesco Mobile last October and signed up to a two-year contract. "After about five months I began to have trouble with my phone charging. I purchased a new charger but no luck, it charged sporadically," she writes.

“In May of this year I rang Tesco Mobile and they told me to send my phone by registered post for repair. I asked them if they could possibly loan me a phone as I had no spare phone and I needed it for work. I was told they don’t offer goodwill phones.”

Nicola was not in a position to send her phone for repair as she had no other phone to fall back on so she continued to use the dodgy one and accepted its poor charging. “On Sunday, September 1st, the phone would not charge at all so I went to the Tesco store in Maynooth and the manager there kindly loaned me a phone with just calls and texts and sent my phone off for repair,” she continues.

When she checked the status of her repair online she was dismayed to see that the engineer’s report came back saying: “Physical damage to USB and mother board – warranty void – repair cost €185.00.”

She accepts that she “may have made the USB port worse while trying to charge the phone but it would not charge otherwise. I rang Tesco Mobile and after 30 minutes on hold spoke to someone who told me they could not help me and to email. I emailed and got a response that they could not help and I was to ring or message them.”

So Nicola messaged the company on Facebook and “eventually got a response after two days which asked me to send a complaint email. I did. I got an email from a manager saying they were investigating. They investigated and got back and said the engineer’s report stands, end of story. Just wondering, apart from going to the small claims court, is there anything else I can do? I would appreciate any advice you may have.”

Benefit of hindsight
Well, there are a several elements to this story although some of them can be seen only with the benefit of hindsight. Had Nicola sent the phone straight off for repair on the first day she noticed a problem with the phone charging then it is possible the damage to the USB connection and the motherboard would not have been done, in which case she could have got her phone fixed under warranty and all would be well.

But it is understandable that she tried to make do for a spell until the phone died. For the sake of full disclosure, this is exactly what Pricewatch did when an identical problem manifested itself on a phone we had up until very recently.

Another thing that our reader might have done would have been to take the phone to a local repair shop which could have probably fixed the charging problem for about €40. Again, we speak with the benefit of experience because that is exactly what Pricewatch did. The downside of such a move is that it invalidates any warranty that might be attached to the phone.

So far we have focused on what Nicola might have done differently but what might Tesco have done? For a start, it is 2018 and it is ridiculous to refuse to give someone a replacement handset when the one you are paying for has to be sent off for repairs. Secondly, the problem became apparent just five months into a contract and we would argue that the company should have done more for our reader on that basis. And thirdly, the difficulty she had making contact with the company is not acceptable.

We contacted Tesco who sent us a statement which – at best – can be described as unapologetic. This is it in full:

“At Tesco Mobile we work hard to assist customers as happened in this case and we have been in touch with this customer directly to discuss her complaint. We operate to the highest standards for our repair and return service. Tesco Mobile’s policy is that if a device becomes faulty within 14 days of purchase, the customer receives a replacement phone or a refund. In this case the complaint was raised in October when the phone was six months’ old. An engineer’s investigation found physical damage had been done to the USB port and to the circuit board of the phone. Tesco Mobile fully investigated the complaint when it was received. Our repair team found that the phone’s USB port and internal circuit board were damaged, through no fault of Tesco Mobile or the manufacturer and thus under the existing warranty agreement it wasn’t covered for replacement or repair. Customer service was in touch with the customer on the same day that she made the complaint. As is standard policy the customer was also advised last month that if not happy with the details, there was the option to approach ComReg in relation to this complaint for them to investigate further.”

Leaky dealings: Long wait for Irish Water
Don Reilly has been having quite the time with our friends in Irish Water of late. On May 22nd he got a letter from the utility stating that the water meter at his home indicated a possible leak and he was recorded using 3,237 litres every day. The average daily consumption is 125 litres per person a day.

“Irish Water offered a free leak repair under the First Fix Scheme and I duly sent the acceptance form,” he says.

He heard nothing back so rang a couple of times in June to get an update and got little more than reference numbers which he was told he could quote in future correspondence. In early July he was told Irish Water was awaiting a Road Opening Licence to be granted from Fingal County Council. He was told the same thing in the middle of July. Then at the end of July he was told “it takes six to eight weeks to get a licence”.

Fast forward to the middle of August and there was still no word from the council. “I was then told that there was a problem uncovered on July 24th regarding my address even though it’s correct and it’s the exact same address that they used in their letter to me in May.”

On August 20th he made contact with the utility and said his mobile phone was not working and passed on his wife’s number if they needed to contact him about the issue. The same day he missed a call to his mobile. A week later he was told his case was with the regional manager and was a “high priority”.

On August 31st he asked for an urgent update and was told that they would call him back immediately. He rang for an update on September 4th and was told a supervisor would get back to him.

They did and he was told the long-awaited licence had been granted and Irish Water was “awaiting word from the contractor as to when work will start”.

He rang several times in September and kept being told that Irish Water had been in touch with the contractors and were waiting for an update. He was told they had been emailed multiple times by the utility.

Last week, almost five months after he was first informed there was a leak, he was told that Irish Water was definitely “going to push this along and someone would ring me back with news”. He never got the call back.

Now if the leak has not been fixed and is – as Irish Water suggested – spilling 3,237 litres into the ground each day, that means that more than 450,000 litres have been wasted at this property alone since the leak was first detected last May.

That seems like an unconscionable waste of a precious resource. We contacted Irish Water and received the following statement:

“The First Fix Free scheme aims to help reduce the amount of water wasted through leaks on customers’ properties. The scheme has resulted in the free repair of almost 11,000 leaks since 2015 saving almost 100 million litres of water per day. Irish Water endeavour to fix the qualifying leaks as soon as possible.

“There are external factors, including the granting of a Road Opening Licence from local authorities which that can un- fortunately prolong the process in a small number of isolated cases. Irish Water apologises for this unacceptable delay in this case and is engaged with the relevant local authority to expedite the necessary licence. The customer will be contacted directly to arrange to suitable date for repair.”

On a high: Refund from Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus gets a fair bit of stick from Pricewatch readers but we got a good news story about the airline recently and are happy to share it.

“My sister and I booked a trip to Miami to fly out on November 7th for a week,” started the mail from Sue McAllister.

“I booked this in good faith on August 14th but shortly afterwards began having back pain.

“Since then it has disimproved to the point that we had to decide to cancel and, frankly, we thought we would be seriously out of pocket,” she says.

Sue and her sister had booked economy class on the outward journey and business class on the way home as it was a night flight. The total price of the tickets came to €1,206.43 each.

“When I rang to cancel on October 4th I was pleasantly surprised, both by the courteousness of the gentleman – his name was Gerard – but also to be told that we would get 85 per cent back. We are simply delighted.”