Q I was due to get married in 2020 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my fiancé and I postponed it until June this year. I chose my wedding dress back in 2020 and paid a significant deposit at the time. However, when I went for my last fitting, it turned out the dress didn’t fit me anymore and would need quite a bit of alterations work. At this point, I’m thinking it would be cheaper to buy another dress. Where do I stand in terms of getting my deposit back? Orla, Co Kildare
When you pay a deposit, you are paying a percentage of the price of a good (such as a wedding dress) and you are entering into a contract with the business. This means when you pay a deposit, both you and the business have rights as well as responsibilities.
Under contract law, deposits are generally non-refundable and, in general, you would only be entitled to your deposit back if the business cannot deliver the goods or provide the service you agreed to pay for, or if the business cannot deliver the goods or service on the agreed delivery date and the new date is not acceptable to you.
Based on the information provided, neither of the above scenarios would seem to apply.
However, in the first instance, you should check the terms and conditions of your contract with the business. These terms and conditions may be printed on the back of your deposit receipt, or alternatively, check the business’s website for its returns policy. See what it says about deposits, change-of-mind returns and in what circumstances (if any) you may be entitled to a refund.
In the event the deposit is not refundable, you should first contact the business to discuss your concerns and see if it can accommodate an alternative arrangement.
You may also consider researching and comparing other alteration services, to see if this could help you save some money. Second, confirm any new arrangements in writing relating to deposits or payments. Follow up with a confirmation email after any verbal agreements made over the phone.
Finally, check your wedding insurance policy (if you have one) to see if it covers lost deposits based on your circumstances. This will depend on the terms and conditions of your policy and when you bought it. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Can I skip insurance given my tight holiday budget?
Q I’m planning a trip to the US later this year to see family. A couple of friends have said I should get travel insurance but my budget is quite tight, so I don’t want to spend money on it needlessly. Is it worth buying now or can I decide closer to the time?
Daniel, Co Wicklow
When it comes to planning your travel essentials, travel insurance is one to strongly consider, particularly when it comes to travelling abroad. Depending on the policy, travel insurance can offer you protection from a variety of risks, such as delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage and lost or stolen money or valuables. So, although it may seem like an unnecessary added expense now, it could be worth adding to your holiday budget to give you the peace of mind that you’re covered if things were to go wrong.
If taking out travel insurance, take it out as soon as you book your trip, rather than waiting until your travel date. This is in case something was to go wrong before you go.
Also, if you buy travel insurance after you leave, your policy is unlikely to cover you for any loss or damages that happened before the policy was purchased.
If you’re concerned about mounting costs, shop around and compare prices from different travel insurance providers.
However, it’s important to compare cover options and not to choose a policy based on price alone. Before you buy, remember to check the terms and conditions on what (if any) Covid-19 related cover a travel insurance policy covers, for example, if you were to test positive for Covid-19 during your trip and so on.
Research the different types of policies available and find one that is right for you. If you plan to go away several times over the next year, it may be better to buy an annual policy rather than several single-trip policies. Cover can vary a lot so make sure you understand what each policy offers.
Finally, check your private health insurance policy to see if it offers some level of protection for healthcare costs while travelling. Check the details thoroughly to see what’s covered.
How do I get money back if my goods don’t arrive?
Q I recently ordered a few items of clothing online from a small boutique retailer based in the west of Ireland. On its website, it says it delivers within five working days – but it has been more than two weeks and my order still hasn’t arrived. I tried emailing the business but have got no response. I have also tried calling it but the number rings out. I’m concerned it might have gone out of business. What can I do to get my money back?
Rebecca, Co Meath
When you buy online from a business based in Ireland, you are protected by EU consumer law and have strong rights across a range of consumer issues, including delivery timeframes.
This means if the business promised to deliver your order by a specific date or within a pre-agreed timeframe, it is legally obliged to deliver on this promise to you. If it doesn’t, it must give you the option to either agree a different date that suits you or allow you to cancel the contract and get a full refund.
In situations like this, the recommended next step would be to contact the business directly to outline the details of your situation, confirm your EU consumer rights and let it know that you are exercising your right to cancel the contract and receive a full refund.
However, it appears you have already followed these steps but have yet to receive a response.
In circumstances where the business refuses to engage with you, and you have paid by credit or debit card, you may wish to contact your card provider regarding the possibility of a chargeback.
However, each card provider has its own terms and conditions regarding chargebacks and specific timeframes for requesting one may apply.
If a chargeback is not an option, you could contact the Companies Registration Office to check the status of the business and if it is still operational.
If so, you could make a claim against the business through the small claims procedure.
If the business has gone into examinership, liquidation or receivership, you will be treated as an unsecured creditor as the business technically owes you money for the undelivered goods. As an unsecured creditor, you rank behind secured creditors, such as Revenue and employees who are owed wages.
If you find that the business has gone into liquidation and your item has not been delivered, you may wish to contact the liquidator to see if you can get the undelivered items sent to you.