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Letters from June 2016


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Unsuitable oven

We bought an oven described on the retailer’s website as “suitable for natural gas and LPG” (we only have LPG where we live). When we went to have the oven installed, we found it was not supplied with any parts to enable it to be run on LPG. The plumber had to order in parts and return twice, costing us an additional $540 – almost a quarter of the oven’s price. We feel misled by the statements on the retailer’s website. As we live rurally, and have a large family to cook for, returning the oven was not a practical option. We would like the retailer to reimburse us the cost of the parts and labour needed for the conversion. Do you think this is reasonable?

We think it’s reasonable to expect the retailer to reimburse you for the extra costs associated with converting the oven to run on LPG. Based on the claim the oven is “suitable for natural gas and LPG”, it’s reasonable for a consumer to think the oven is ready to use without any extra parts. This is not the case and the retailer risks breaching its obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to provide goods that match the description. The retailer also risks breaching the Fair Trading Act. We suggest you point this out to the retailer and ask it to reimburse you for the extra plumbing costs you incurred doing the conversion.

Lengthy repairs

I purchased a new 49cc scooter for $3000 in August. Since then, it has been back to the shop a number of times over various issues. One was the dashboard petrol light not working properly. Then in February, the scooter broke down on my way to work. The oil light was not working properly and the scooter had run out of oil, resulting in engine damage. The repair will be covered by the warranty. The issue I have is how long it is now taking for the shop to carry out the repair. It has been 10 weeks so far and it is still waiting for spare parts. Is this amount of time to repair under warranty acceptable for a new vehicle?

The repairs you have described would indicate the scooter has defects that are unacceptable for a new vehicle, giving you rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act. Under the Act, the scooter repairs must be completed within a reasonable time. We don’t believe 10 weeks is a reasonable time for repairing a scooter that’s less than six months old. Point this out to the retailer and if the scooter is not then returned promptly and in good working order you are entitled to ask for a refund or a replacement scooter. If there is no response from the retailer, we suggest you take the issue to the Disputes Tribunal.

Internet bankers beware!

I recently deposited $450 into an incorrect bank account via online banking. My bank sent a formal request to the receiving bank to try to retrieve the money. Two weeks later, my bank told me the receiving bank had either been unable to contact the account holder or the holder did not wish to refund the money. I understand it was my error but wonder if there is anything I can do to get my money back?

In general, banks can only reverse payments made in error with the consent of the person who received the money. If your bank has done its best and the account holder has refused to return the money, you can try to resolve the issue with the person directly. This might mean taking the account holder to the Disputes Tribunal. You’ll need to obtain their contact details from the bank to pursue a tribunal case. While the Privacy Act allows this information to be released if proceedings are in the offing, it's at the bank's discretion. If the bank unreasonably refuses to help, you can complain to the Banking Ombudsman.

Oven capacity

We are looking to buy a new wall oven but want to know why the oven’s capacity claimed by the manufacturer is smaller than the usable capacity stated in Consumer’s test reports?

Belinda Castles, Consumer senior writer says: Many manufacturers use an international standard to measure usable capacity. But different interpretations of the standard mean manufacturers can use different approaches to measure capacity. This means claimed usable volumes between manufacturers are not comparable. When we measure an oven’s usable dimensions we measure from the bottom shelf up to the grill element – this is because you shouldn’t put baking dishes on the bottom of your oven to cook. A good tip when you’re buying a new oven is to take along your largest baking dish or tray to see if it’ll fit.

In sickness and in health?

I have read with great interest your articles on health insurance as my wife and I are moving to New Zealand later this year. We have a query for you: do any plans allow pre-existing health conditions? This is an important issue for us as we are 78!

Luke Harrison, Consumer senior writer, says: As a general rule, insurers won’t cover a medical condition that exists before you take out cover. However, some will make an exception depending on the severity of the condition. For instance, an insurer may be willing to fully cover you if you’ve suffered high blood pressure, provided your blood pressure is now under control. Similarly, some insurers stipulate they’ll reconsider cover for a pre-existing condition after you’ve held insurance with them for a certain period (say three years). When you take out and renew health insurance, you must accurately declare medical conditions or symptoms you’ve suffered. If you don’t, the insurer can refuse to cover your claim or even cancel your policy.

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