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Letters from October 2015


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Camera shot

I paid $645 for a camera in February 2012. Over the past few years, I have purchased three batteries – suspecting a battery problem because I was constantly having to recharge them. The camera has not been used frequently and was correctly stored when not in use. After the third battery purchase, I returned the camera to the retailer for assessment. A power board failure was diagnosed and I’ve been told the repair cost will be $249. The retailer has refused to pay for repair and the camera is now out of warranty. What are my rights in this situation? BILL PENNO

Given the age and price of the camera, you should expect to get greater use from it before needing repair. In our view, the retailer should be fixing the problem under the Consumer Guarantees Act. We suggest you approach the retailer again and point out its obligations under the Act to provide a remedy when goods aren’t of acceptable quality. The retailer must act within a reasonable time to fix the problem.

UPATE: The retailer has arranged to have the camera repaired at no cost to Bill.

Kitchen misfit

I engaged a company to design and supply my kitchen. But it made an error in its calculations for the design and my builder has not been able to install the kitchen. I have been corresponding with the company to sort it out but I am not getting very far! Three manager changes in the company and no one wants to take responsibility to sort this out. Can you assist me? LIZ CONWAY

The kitchen company that designed and supplied your home kitchen has to take reasonable care and skill to do its job under the Consumer Guarantees Act. The Act gives you the right to insist the company fix the problem within a reasonable time. If it fails to do so, you may be able to lodge a claim in the Disputes Tribunal. The tribunal can hear claims up to $15,000 or $20,000 with the agreement of both parties.

Leave-your-own restaurants?

I am organising a group to go to a licensed restaurant. We are supplying our own wine, paying $12 per bottle corkage. The restaurant claims, because of the conditions of its liquor licence, we will not be able to take any of our wine – opened or unopened – off the premises after the meal. It seems unfair to me that we would have to leave full bottles of wine behind. Are they right? HELEN DAVIES

Alcohol licensing is covered by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. Under the Act, a restaurant that allows patrons to bring their own alcohol is generally allowed to let customers take any unfinished alcohol when they leave, as long as it is in a sealed or resealed container. However, when licensing authorities approve a licence they make it subject to conditions. It’s possible this particular licence is subject to a condition that prevents patrons removing unfinished liquor. We suggest you point out the provisions of the Act to the restaurant manager and ask if the facility is subject to any other conditions. You could also check with your local licensing authority.

Covered up

I have just read your article about travel insurance. I was under the impression hospital and ambulance costs are reciprocal between New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Therefore, it is not necessary to include cover for this in any travel insurance. Is this correct? We have cover for travel through our credit card but it excludes some medical costs because of pre-existing conditions and being aged over 75. We do not take out extra cover as we feel our credit card policy is sufficient for our needs. Could we have your comments on this please? BRIAN AND BERNADETTE TUTTY

New Zealanders visiting Australia and the UK are entitled to receive free emergency treatment for both new and pre-existing conditions under reciprocal health agreements with these countries. We don’t have any reciprocal health agreements with the Pacific Islands. Travel insurance policies usually feature an exclusion that reads: “there is no cover for any loss or event or liability which is already covered under a reciprocal health agreement”, or words to that effect. But there are limitations to these agreements. For instance, visitors to Australia can only receive free treatment from a public hospital and there may be charges for some services such as ambulance transport. Reciprocal agreements don’t cover medically supervised flights home either. For this reason, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends New Zealand travellers hold comprehensive travel insurance even if they’re travelling to Australia or the UK. The insurer covers medical expenses that fall outside the terms of the reciprocal agreement, assuming the policy’s conditions are met. Full copies of reciprocal health agreements can be found at health.govt.nz.

Bulb swap

I have several recessed MR16 halogen bulbs in my kitchen and family room. I also have three dimmers for the different groups of recessed lights in that area. Heat cans were used in the ceiling when they were installed. One bulb has just blown and before I replace it I was keen to get some guidance. In a recent article you recommend replacing the entire fitting when changing to an LED. Given I have a heat can, would it be OK to replace the halogen with an LED (if it will work)? Will it also operate on the dimmer? From a safety point of view, is it OK to do this? MPP

If you were to fit MR16 LED bulbs into your existing halogen fittings, they would in all likelihood work fine – for a while at least. However, there are some problems with this approach, which is why we think a dedicated, all-in-one LED fitting is a better option. Unlike halogens, LEDs have a driver circuit in the base of the bulb that is susceptible to overheating. Dedicated fittings allow airflow around the bulb, preventing heat from building up at its base through the use of heat sinks and cooling fins, so they generally last much longer than simply retrofitting LED bulbs into old halogen fittings. Note, there’s no safety concerns with this as the level of heat from LEDs and their circuitry is too low to pose a fire risk.

There are sometimes issues using MR16 LEDs with the transformers designed for halogen bulbs. If you’re set on retrofitting LEDs into the existing fitting, buy one LED to test whether your transformers work with that type of bulb.

If you’re retrofitting an LED into a dimmable circuit, ensure the LED is dimmable. They are more expensive but using non-dimmable LEDs can damage both the bulb and the dimmer. While the initial cost will sting, dedicated LED fittings are likely to last much longer than retrofitted bulbs (in the region of 15,000 hours vs 50,000), so in the long-term you’ll save.

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