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If you're unhappy about poor service

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

If you’ve paid a person or business to do a service - for example, give you a haircut, make a wedding cake or provide transport - and it hasn’t been done with care and skill, you can:

  • ask them to do it again, if it’s possible
  • ask for a discount

There’s separate guidance if you have a problem with:

Get the service done again, or get a part refund

The law says you must first give them the option of providing the service again if it’s possible for them to do so. But you’re legally entitled to go straight to getting a discount if any of the following apply:

  • it’s not possible to get the service done again
  • it would take too long to get the service done again
  • it would be very inconvenient for you to get the service done again

The trader might agree to give you a discount rather than re-do the service if that’s what you’d prefer - you’ll have to ask and see what they say.

If you told them that their service was good enough when it was done, you don’t have the legal right to get it done again or get a discount.

If you don’t notice a problem straight away

It might not be obvious at the time that the service wasn’t done to a good standard, eg you hired a ‘man and van’ to help you move house and found a broken ornament 3 weeks later. You’re entitled to ask for things to be put right for:

  • up to 6 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • up to 5 years in Scotland

What to say or write

You might want to mention the law that deals with your rights in this situation. Choose the relevant law depending on when you gave the trader the go-ahead.

If you agreed the work before 1 October 2015, you can say:

“The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 says that reasonable care and skill must be used when providing a service.

In my opinion, you did not use reasonable care and skill when you provided this service.

I want you to fix the problem/give me a price reduction.”

If you agreed the work on or after 1 October 2015, you can say:

“The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that services must be provided with reasonable care and skill.

In my opinion, you did not use reasonable care and skill when you provided this service.

I want you to fix the problem/give me a price reduction.”

If they agree to re-do the service, arrange a date for it to be completed by. You’re legally entitled to have it done within a ‘reasonable time’. There are no exact rules for what a ‘reasonable time’ is, but you could try contacting similar service providers to get an idea of how long it should take.

If you’re getting a discount, you’ll have to agree the amount with the trader. It’s a good idea to start by suggesting a figure and explaining why you think it’s reasonable, then take it from there.

If you can’t come to an agreement

If you can’t come to an agreement with the trader, you should take the following steps:

  1. Use our complaint letter for a poor service. The letters contain legal terminology, and may help the trader understand that you know your rights.
  2. Check if the trader is a member of a trade association. Look on the trader’s website or ask them if you can’t find this information. Contact the trade association and explain the situation.
  3. Ask the trader if they’re a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme - it’s a way of solving disagreements without going to court. If they don’t respond or won’t use an ADR scheme, keep a record of the fact that you asked them (and the date). 
  4. Choose an ADR scheme yourself to try to solve the problem more informally. It’ll help you later if you end up going to court. 
  5. Claim compensation if you have to get someone else to do or re-do the work. This could mean simply asking the trader for compensation or it could involve taking them to court, which could be costly and time consuming.

If you paid for the service with a credit card, you can contact the bank (or credit card company) and say you want to make a ‘section 75 claim’. If you used a debit card, say you want to make a ‘chargeback’ claim. If you don’t get anywhere, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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