Pricewatch reader queries: Left high but not dry by a hairdresser closing down

This week’s issues: vouchers for a business that has gone into liquidation; cut-price berries; and flight ticket bingo

Refund may be due for unused blow-dries and gift voucher. Photograph: Thinkstock

Refund may be due for unused blow-dries and gift voucher. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

In early December a reader called Ros signed up to a package with her local hairdresser to get eight blow-dries for €140. Ros assures Pricewatch that this represents good value for money.

“I paid up and had two blow-dries before Christmas,” she writes. “However, in the week after Christmas I discovered that the hairdresser had gone into liquidation and the building was closed. I paid by Visa debit and wonder if I should try to get some money back even though I had got about €35 worth of service from the advance,” she says.

She also wants to know if a friend of hers who got a voucher for the same salon as a gift has any comeback.

First things first. Our reader should absolutely try to get some money back, but there is little point in pursuing the hairdresser. Instead she needs to contact her debit card provider and look for what is known as a chargeback.

This allows consumers to have a card transaction reversed if there’s a problem with something they have bought. While it applies to all cards, the rules vary between providers. Generally speaking, a chargeback can be sought if a transaction was not authorised by you, or if it was put through more than once. It can also be ordered if the supplier did not deliver the goods or services that were paid for, or if the goods were delivered but were faulty or not as described or if – as in this case – the merchant has ceased trading.

In 2011 the Dublin gym chain Total Fitness went into liquidation, owing 11,150 irate members some €1.6 million. They were all unsecured creditors and their chances of getting anything back were remote – unless they had paid their fees by Visa, Mastercard or American Express.

Those customers were able to reclaim the unused portion of their membership through the chargeback mechanism.

First, our reader needs to contact the supplier and ask for a refund. If that is not possible – and it is most likely not – then she should contact the bank or credit card company that issued the card.

She needs to give them details of the transaction, and request that they follow it up with the supplier’s merchant. This is the bank that processes card transactions for the shop or company that debited her card.

 

A berry good idea

Last week we reviewed frozen berries and it prompted a number of readers to get in touch. Nives Healy from Borrisokane has her own DIY method for getting cheaper frozen fruit. “I buy fruit when it is cheap during the summer. Then I wash it, take the stones out and cut it into pieces and make my own mixes, which I freeze in old ice-cream containers. I have a very small chest freezer and it is basically full of fruit,” she says.

That is not a bad idea, not least because of the hepatitis A concerns over frozen fruit (something we did not mention in our reviews last week, which was probably remiss). Last summer, the Food Safety Authority re-issued advice to boil all imported frozen berries for at least one minute.

 

What goes up may or may not come down

On Saturday, January 10th, Bríd Morgan booked, under her husband’s name, Aer Lingus flights to Santiago de Compostela for August 11th for a party of three adults and two children. Last week, she received a customer survey request, “which for a fleeting moment I did consider completing,” she writes.

When she got her booking it “very helpfully” told her she had saved €88. “My observation surrounds this saving. I had been keeping an eye on flight prices since just after Christmas. Towards the end of December exactly the same flights were costing about €420.

“On Friday, January 9th, they cost €355. I understand and accept that flight prices change, but I am at a loss as to how Aer Lingus can conduct their current European flight sale and also tell me I have saved €88, when in fact if I had booked on January 9th I would have paid €56 less than the €411 that I paid the very next day (which included a handsome €88 saving).”

She says she is “not naive enough to expect that they care or that any attempts to question or bring this anomaly to their attention will make any difference. However, I reckoned I would feel marginally better by sharing my observation with you.”

We contacted the company and got the following terse statement. “Prices are subject to availability and change. The saving which is displayed in the fare summary box at the time of booking and on the booking confirmation email reflects the current saving available to the customer at that point in time. The saving is not reflective of a price at a different point in time.”

Well that clears that up than, doesn’t it? No?

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