Know your rights September 2015

Know Your Rights A:

Consumer rights in the EU

September 2015

Question

I’ve just come back from a holiday in Portugal. I booked a tour to see the sights but the coach didn’t turn up on the day. The tour company said we could rearrange another time but this didn’t suit me. Can I get my money back?

Answer

When you buy goods or services in another EU member state you have certain rights under consumer legislation, including the right to make a complaint. The consumer laws of Portugal apply to any goods or services you bought while you were visiting there. However language differences and distance can make it more difficult to complain effectively.

If you are not happy with something you paid for, you should deal with the issue as soon as possible. In some cases, there are time limits for taking certain procedures. Even if there are no time limits set down, it is easier for you and the service provider to deal with issues as soon as possible.

Keep all relevant documents. It is your responsibility to prove that you paid for the goods or service that you are complaining about. A receipt is just one way to prove that you paid for an item or service. If you paid for the item by credit card, you can use your credit card statement as proof of purchase.

You should contact the service provider or retailer directly to make your complaint – in this case, the tour company. If you have exhausted the company’s complaints mechanism or you are not happy with their response you should seek advice from your European Consumer Centre (ECC).

The ECC in Ireland is there to support you if you have a problem with a supplier of goods or services in another EU member state. It is part of an EU-wide network of consumer centres and it can help you to solve consumer disputes that arise in other member states of the EU. It does this by trying to solve the dispute directly with the supplier and, if this fails, by referring your case to an alternative dispute resolution body.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights B:

Cycling offences

September 2015

Question

I’m a regular cyclist. What are the new cycling offences and what are the fines?

Answer

Like other road users, cyclists must obey the existing rules that apply to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings and cycle traffic lights. You must stop at stop signs and give way at yield signs. There are also rules about the equipment a bicycle must have. These rules are set out in various laws and regulations.

There are no new cycling offences but, since 31 July 2015, certain cycling offences have been declared to be fixed charge offences. The fixed charge system allows you to pay a fixed charge or fine instead of going to court to answer the offence.

The cycling offences to which a fixed charge applies are:
• No front or rear light during lighting-up hours
• Riding a bicycle without reasonable consideration
• Failing to stop for a school warden sign
• Failing to stop at traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
• Failing to stop at cycle traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
• Failing to stop at a stop line, barrier or half barrier at a railway level crossing, swing bridge or lifting bridge, when the red lamps are flashing
• Cycling in a pedestrianised street or area

If you are stopped by a Garda who suspects you have committed a cycling offence you must give your name, address and date of birth when requested.

The fixed charge for a cycling offence is currently €40. If you receive a fixed charge notice, you have 28 days from the date of the issue of the fixed charge notice to pay the fine. If it is not paid within 28 days, the charge is increased by 50%. If it is still unpaid after a further 28 days then court proceedings are initiated. If you pay the fixed charge within the legal time limits and court proceedings are not commenced, you will not have a criminal record in respect of the offence.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights C:

Water Conservation Grant

September 2015

Question

I registered with Irish Water earlier this year. How do I apply for the Water Conservation Grant?

Answer

Every household that registered its principal private dwelling (main home) with Irish Water by 30 June 2015 is eligible for the Water Conservation Grant in 2015. The payment is €100 and will issue from September 2015.

Households that registered after 30 June 2015, or have yet to register, are not eligible for the grant in 2015.

By the end of September 2015, all eligible households will get a letter from the Department of Social Protection explaining how to apply for the Water Conservation Grant. You cannot apply for it until you have received this letter. When you get your letter, you apply online on watergrant.ie. You must apply before 8 October 2015.

You will need the following information to apply for your Water Conservation Grant:
• TIN (Transaction Identification Number) – you will find this number on the letter you received from the Department.
• WPRN (Water Point Reference Number) – a number specific to your house, which you will also find on the letter from the Department.
• Irish Water account or registration number – you got this when you registered with Irish Water. If you have your own water supply and waste water services, you will have a registration number instead of an account number. Contact Irish Water directly if you cannot find these numbers.
• Your PPS number.
• Details of the bank or other account into which you want your grant to be paid (BIC, IBAN and account name) – you will find these on recent bank statements.

If you do not have internet access or a bank account, you can telephone the Water Conservation Grant Support Team at 1890 100 043 (9am–5pm, Monday to Friday) and they will make arrangements for you.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights D:

Means test for Farm Assist

September 2015

Question

How is my income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I work on the farm but I also do a bit of contracting and my wife works part-time.

Answer

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every form of income you may have but assesses it in different ways.

Your income from farming and any other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive minus any expenses you incur to earn that income. When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will call to see you and ask to see various documents. The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in connection with the running of the farm. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation. All of your means from self-employment are assessed (there are no disregards for dependent children).

Payments under the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) or the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) scheme are assessed separately from other farm income. The first €2,540 per year is deducted from the total amount of all these payments and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with REPS/AEOS/SAC measures are then deducted and the balance is assessed as means.

Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full. Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to all means-tested social welfare payments.

If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means. Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.

You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed from the Department of Social Protection’s website.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

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