By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB
Q: I’ve just found out that a shop I’ve bought goods from has gone bust. How will this affect my consumer rights?
A: When a trader goes into administration its rights and responsibilities change. Depending on your situation you might end up losing out, so it’s important to know what you can do to protect yourself.
A common problem when shops go bust is what you can do if you have a gift card. Once they go into administration shops are under no obligation to continue to accept gift cards, although some may continue to do so. If you have a gift card then hold on to it, even if it isn’t being accepted, as the situation can change. This works both ways, so if a shop is taking vouchers then make sure you use them while you can.
If you’ve put down a deposit on an item that you have yet to receive, then whether or not you receive it will depend on whether it has been ‘earmarked’ for you. If it has then the shop should fulfil your order, but if not then you may not see the goods. If you’ve bought something, for example electrical or white goods, which become faulty then it might be easier to claim under the manufacturer’s guarantee.
You can log a complaint with the administrators which will add you on to the store’s list of creditors, but realistically most customers will be a long way down the list. If you used a credit or debit card you may be able to make a claim from your provider, and if the goods or services you bought came with a manufacturer’s guarantee or an insurance-backed guarantee, you may be able to make a claim under them. If the trader was a member of a trade association, contact them to see if they can help.
You can find out more about what rights you have and what you can do if things go wrong by calling Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau, log on to www.adviceguide.org.uk or call at Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole. Telephone advice is available 9am - 4pm each day on 028 9085 2271 (lunch 1pm - 1:30pm). Email advice is available by contacting email@example.com