Consumer Rights: The deposit was paid and the car dealer did a U-turn
Sunday 01 June 2008
Q. I put a deposit of £99 on a car at the Evans Halshaw dealership. When the monthly price for the finance came back, it was higher than originally quoted and more than I'd planned to spend.
When I went to collect my deposit, having cancelled the purchase, I was told it was the firm's policy to wait three months before giving a refund and it had the right to charge me for any credit checks it had carried out. I don't think this was mentioned on any of the paperwork.
I said I hadn't been given this information. The response was that the member of staff who dealt with me was new. What are my rights? JW, County Durham
A. Finance deals are often not as attractive as billed. It is amazing how quickly that "£100 a month" painted on a showroom window becomes a lot more, with extras such as loan arrangement fees. Frank Shepherd at advice organisation Consumer Direct (www.consumerdirect. gov.uk; 0845 404 0506) says dealers can charge a "brokerage fee" but they have to make this known to the customer first, or it could be deemed a hidden charge and therefore unreasonable. The staff member's length of service does not affect the company's obligations to you, so this is no excuse.
Anthony Maton, partner in the London office of lawyers Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, says: "The basis on which you entered into the contract was that the monthly price would be a certain amount. Given that this fundamental term of the contract has either been changed or breached by the increase in price, you are entitled to rescind the contract as if it never even existed and claim the £99 back. In these circumstances, the seller has no right to hang on to the money for three months but must return it immediately.
"As the charge for the credit searches was neither mentioned to you nor included in the contract, the seller has no right to charge it. That the member of staff is new is irrelevant. In short, the £99 should be returned to you now."
Armed with this information, you have, I understand, now contacted the car dealership and it has agreed to return the deposit immediately and in full.
Q. My father has built up substantial credit card debts and has no assets. I don't want to become liable for the debts on his death. What can I do? SL, London
A. You will not have to reach into your own pockets to pay your father's debts. But your inheritance would have been eroded had you been expecting one.
Matthew Hansell, private client partner with law firm Mills & Reeve, says: "The executors of a deceased individual's estate are responsible for paying all his debts, including those on credit cards. But they can only be liable to the extent of the individual's assets. In other words, if the debts total more than the assets in the estate, the creditors will receive only a proportion of what is due to them, and if there are no assets they will receive nothing. There can be no question of the executors or the beneficiaries having to dip into their own pockets to pay off debts."
So as your father has no assets, his debts will die with him.
However, you might want to encourage him to call one of the debt helplines, which can offer sound advice in managing these issues. Mr Shepherd at Consumer Direct says: "Anyone struggling with debt problems can contact the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to offer support."
Consumer sites such as moneymagpie.co.uk and MoneySavingExpert.com have a wealth of money-saving tips, too.
Q. Please will you advise how to get the best from £100,000. My wife and I have no individual savings accounts (ISAs) – just some pensions and other savings accounts. We have no card debts or mortgage. BD, Manchester
A. Lucky you. If many of the doom-mongers are to be believed, £100,000 will shortly buy you a house in Mayfair, but any realistic advice on where to put the money for long-term saving will have to take account of your longer-term goals, attitude to risk, lifestyle and any need for income. You should be striving for a balance of investments and so avoid the "next big thing", be that emerging markets, property or gold.
Keith Churchouse, director at independent financial adviser Churchouse Financial Planning, says: "This is a large investment, so take full guidance. Visit www.unbiased.co.uk for advisers in your locality. The website details each individual adviser's qualifications, so you know what you're getting.
"Some standard advice is to use your ISA allowances to the full – a maximum of £7,200 each for a stocks and shares ISA," he continues. "You also have savings accounts, and these should hold enough money to cover your income needs for around three to six months in case of emergency.
"If one of you pays tax at a lower rate, invest these savings in their name if possible. You can also use premium bonds as a tax-free savings route (up to £30,000). Above this, look at investing in unit trusts or open-ended investment companies. These should be geared for capital growth but can give some dividend income too."
Financial advisers have had a bad rap in the press and you should ensure you are comfortable with any adviser you choose. The first consultation with an IFA is a "get to know you" session and should be free. As there is no commitment on your part at this stage, you can simply walk away and try elsewhere if you're not sure about that adviser.
One of the big issues with financial advice is how it is paid for. It is still common for advisers to receive commission on any financial products that are bought by their client. While this is the norm, it is also controversial, though for most advisers the commission system is simply part of the landscape and they do not let it influence the type of products they recommend. However, you may prefer to consult an adviser who charges a fee rather than working on commission.
Be wary of any adviser who urges you to put a lot of money into one investment or recommends complicated tax-avoidance schemes. As Mr Churchouse suggests, you can squirrel away a lot of your cash in tax-efficient investments without introducing complexity.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Compute...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET D...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET S...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Trade Suppor...
Day In a Page
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds