Monday, 13 December 2010

Monthly Feature with Elizabeth Crampton of St Albans Citizens Advice Bureau

Recommended during the feature was being aware of your consumer rights when buying christmas gifts. All goods should meet the description of what you've paid for, be fit for purpose and be of satisfactory quality. If not, the retailer should offer a replacement at the very least. Some shops go further and offer refunds if you've just simply changed your mind, however many smaller retailers do not and they are not legally obliged to do so.

When making a purchase on the internet, you do have the same rights plus you have the right to cancel the order for 30 days after the date of purchase. However, some items are exempt like flowers and personalised goods.

If you buy goods using a credit card, you also get extra consumer protection. If this happens and the trader won't address a problem, you're credit card company may be able to sort the problem for you. If you pay for goods using a visa debit card, visa can also offer you additional protection.

The next subject was fuel. Many peolpe have turned up the heating with the recent cold weather. Information on how to save energy and reduce energy consumption in your home can be found at

For those with illness or disability, social tariffs are also offered by some energy companies and are cheaper than standard rate tariffs. More information should be available through your energy company.

Energy costs can also be reduced by setting up an online account with your energy provider rather than having bills sent through the post. It's sometimes possible to change tariff with your current supplier, and you always have the option of changing your energy supplier if you find a better tariff with a different supplier in your area.

And conventional ways of keeping warm still work.....extra layers, hot drinks and hot water bottles!

The last subject discussed was rent arrears. If you don't deal with rent arrears quickly you could lose your home. The advice was to contact your landlord as soon as possible and then speak to the CAB who will be able to advise on how you can manage the situation.

St Albans CAB are based at London Road, St Albans and can be contacted on 08444 111 444. For more information, visit

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