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Letters from April 2015

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Are blinds as good as curtains?

I read the results of your studies on the thermal performance of curtains with interest. I was wondering whether you had carried out similar tests with blinds. Given the importance of sealing around the window, I would assume that well fitted blinds could be as effective as (and possibly cheaper than) full-length curtains if not more so? CUSHLA MCKINNEY

We haven’t yet tested blinds but the findings of our curtains test are equally applicable. As you said, it’s not so much the insulation qualities of the curtain (or blind) material that matters, it’s reducing airflow around the window as much as possible. The key is ensuring the blinds fit snugly with the window frame and are well sealed at the top and bottom, so they trap air in the gap between them and the window. We’d like to test blinds to see if there are any differences between the various types, including the cellular or honeycomb types that claim to offer better thermal performance.

How do you test the noise level of dishwashers?

I have been researching dishwashers and hope you can clarify something for me. Your report states that the noise level of the Bosch SMS63M28AU dishwasher is 49dBA, but the Bosch specs say it is lower. Did the specifications for noise levels in your report come from manufacturers or did you test them yourselves? DEBORAH ELLINGHAM

Our published noise level measurements are taken during the dishwasher’s normal or regular wash cycle. We measure one metre out and one metre up from the machine. We measure underbench models installed in an underbench cavity and freestanding models while they’re freestanding. The Bosch SMS63M28AU is a freestanding model (although it can also be installed under the bench too). We measured the machine’s noise level while it was freestanding. As a guide, a normal conversation measures about 65dBA so a dishwasher that operates at either 49dBA or 42dBA will be considerably quieter.

Will my camera gear still be covered if I use it for work?

I have a fair amount of camera gear which is all listed on the policy as individual items due to the replacement cost. Would I still be covered under my insurance policy if I damaged the equipment doing a job where I could get financial benefit (even as a very small secondary income)? I currently have an insurance policy with AA Insurance. There is a definition in the policy called “Business Tools and Professional Equipment”, but I’m not sure if that excludes me from making a claim. MARK LYNCH

In all likelihood, AA Insurance will evoke the “Business Tools and Professional Equipment” clause in its policy if your camera gear is damaged or stolen. This means you’ll only get $700 ($1000 minus a $300 excess) for your gear rather than the amounts specified on your policy schedule. That said, the policy’s fine print defines professional equipment as items “whose principal use is for you to earn any income …”. AA says it assesses each claim on a case by case basis. The best course of action is to contact AA Insurance now to discuss cover for your gear.

Leaky tap with a bad rap

We bought a kitchen-sink mixer tap from a plumbing supplier in June 2009. In May 2011 a leak developed and the supplier replaced the tap, free of charge, with a slightly better unit. The unit had a two-year warranty. A few weeks ago the spout developed a significant crack and now leaks very badly. We spoke to the supplier who said it had experienced problems with the type of tap we’d been given. The problems were due to a manufacturing issue, which had since been remedied. However, the supplier said our tap was out of warranty and we’d have to buy a whole new unit. Our view is that the fault was a known one and the tap shouldn’t have been sold in the first place. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, we would expect a tap to last more than three years and seven months regardless of the warranty period. Should we be able to get the tap replaced free of charge or for a reduced charge? KIRSTEN DRYSDALE

You should be able to get the tap replaced free of charge. Thanks to the Consumer Guarantees Act, you don’t have to rely on the manufacturer’s warranty. Under the Act, goods must be of “acceptable quality” (for instance, free from defects and durable). Obviously your leaky tap doesn’t meet this requirement.

UPDATE: The supplier has replaced the tap free of charge.

Where should we draw the line?

We purchased a TV in August 2012 from a major department store. In January this year, we noticed a straight line had appeared on our screen (from top to bottom). We went back to the store to find out what the problem was. It informed us the screen was faulty and would need to be replaced. It told us to get in touch with the manufacturer. We phoned the manufacturer’s technician – and he said we have to go back to the department store! We didn't buy an extended warranty as the TV is from a very good brand and we expected it to last at least six plus years. What’s your advice? A MEMBER

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, the department store has a responsibility to provide a remedy when goods aren’t of acceptable quality. If the problem with your TV is minor, the store has the option to repair it, replace it – or take it back and give you a refund. It can't just fob you off to the manufacturer. In addition, you were right not to buy an extended warranty. These are usually a waste of money because you're already covered by the Act.

Boots and all

I purchased a pair of good quality tramping boots just over a year ago from an outdoor store at a heavily reduced price. The glue holding the toe caps in place on the boots has begun to come away after only minimal use. I plan to return the boots to the store and ask for them to be repaired as I’d like to continue to use them. I have two queries:

  • If the shop says the boots are not worth repairing, can I have them repaired at a local shoe repair shop and ask the outdoor store to pay for the repairs?
  • If the outdoor store says it’ll replace the boots with another pair, can it ask me to pay the difference between the reduced price I paid and the current price (if the current price is higher)?

A MEMBER

You have to give the store an opportunity to remedy the fault in the first instance. It can choose whether to repair your boots, replace them or take them back and give you a refund. If the store decides to replace your boots, it can’t ask you to pay the difference between the sale price and the current price. And if it decides to refund you, it must give you back the full amount you paid (you don’t have to accept store credit). If the store refuses to remedy the fault, you can get the boots repaired yourself and claim the costs back.

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