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Fergus Muirhead on consumer questions

7 September 09 08:59 GMT

I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm trying to answer any money or consumer problems you may be facing at the moment.

You can contact me by e-mail at fergus@bbc.co.uk

I will deal with a selection of your e-mails every second Monday on lunchtime Reporting Scotland, Scotland Live and on the BBC Scotland news website.

Fergus also has a consumer page on Twitter: http://twitter.com/consumerstuff

Question 1. I bought an Audi Cabriolet TDI on 20 May. On 18 June, on my way home from Inverness, I needed to be recued by the RAC even though the car was under a month old at this point. It was towed to Glasgow from Onich, Inverness-shire. I am informed there was really nothing wrong with the car and it was returned to me. I embark on another trip to Inverness shortly after. Again on the way home I need to be rescued by the RAC. Audi UK mentioned something about an exchange since the car is under 3 months old. I wanted to know what my legal rights are, since these large motor companies are fearsome to take on.

Marion Holden

Answer. You have the same legal rights under the Sale of Goods Act for a car that is not fit for purpose as you do with a television or a kettle. The cost of the goods you purchase should not affect your rights, although, as you say, sometimes car companies can seem more fearsome to take on. I would suggest that you write to Audi UK to let them know that you are formally rejecting the vehicle (they may argue that you have had it too long to do this but press the point). It may not have to come to that but it should get the ball rolling in trying to identify the problem with the car and have it dealt with. You should detail in your letter exactly why you feel you have to reject the vehicle, listing dates and times of faults as well as the detail of the faults. Make sure that you end your letter with a timescale for a response - seven days should be adequate - and detail what you will do next.

Question 2. I bought a laptop to allow me to talk with my family as they are abroad. But I cannot do so as the company do not have a signal tower in my area so my signal is weak. The result is that I cannot download Yahoo etc so I have to go to internet cafes to talk with my family. My contract started in 22 February and lasts for 2 years paying £30 a month. Can I return the laptop and stop paying this contract as this laptop is of no use to me as I only bought it to talk with my family?

Gerard Foy

Answer. I think the short answer to this may be 'no'. It seems that there is nothing wrong with the laptop you purchased, the problem is that you cannot connect to the internet for reasons that have nothing to do with the laptop itself. The only way you would be able to return the machine would be if the retailer you purchased it from had a policy of allowing you to return unwanted goods. That may be the case and if so you may be able to get a refund but the retailer is under no obligation to do this unless there is a fault with the laptop. The contract for internet connection is likely to have a minimum term - sounds like it could be 24 months - but it would be worth writing to the company and explaining that you are unable to connect and that the contract is, therefore, worthless.

Q. I would like to set up a fund for my two and a half year old son to access in future. Can you please advise can I open a tax free savings fund?

Gavin Munro

Answer. The Government introduced Child Trust Funds in 2002 and sent £250 to every child born after 1 September 2002, with a further £250 when the child reaches his or her 7th birthday (these amounts are doubled for low income families). You or your family are then able to top that up to £1,200 per annum and the money can be invested in a wide variety of different accounts and funds that are all tax free until your son's 18th birthday. You will find more information on the workings of the Trust Fund on www.childtrustfund.gov.uk and on Reporting Scotland on Monday lunchtime.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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