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Buying a foreign product

I bought an electric toothbrush, but found that it has a continental plug only. The shop will not exchange it. What are my rights?

According to the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, consumer products must be of merchantable quality, as described and fit for their purpose. If this is not the case, the consumer is entitled to a remedy, and the seller has a duty to put things right. As a general rule, the seller can either repair or replace the item. Alternatively, they can refund the cost of the item or service to the consumer. If a product has no fault you are not automatically entitled to an exchange. However, although this product was not faulty, it was also not fit for its purpose in the country of sale. Therefore, unless the packaging stated clearly that only a continental plug was supplied, or you were informed of this before purchase, you are entitled to remedy (at the very least a supplied adaptor). If the seller refuses to agree, you can bring a claim to the Small Claims Court.

I wanted to buy a dress in a Dublin store, but the only price on the label was £13.00 sterling. When I asked, I was told that the Irish price was €28, but £13 would be more equivalent to €18 than €28. Can the retailer raise a price like this?

Under the EC (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations 2002, retailers and service providers in Ireland must show product prices, and must show them in euro. However, retailers may charge whatever price they want for their wares, and international retailers are not required to charge the same from country to country. If an item is wrongly priced by mistake (and is not consistently wrongly priced), you are not automatically entitled to buy it at the lower price. As long as you are told the correct price before you pay, you have no right to redress. If you notice the error after you have paid, you should bring the matter to the retailer’s attention and ask to be refunded the difference. You could also report the matter to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which must investigate the complaint and ensure future compliance with the law.

I bought some items in a Polish grocery store but later realised the ingredients list was only provided in Polish. I am allergic to nuts, but couldn’t check the label for allergen content. Is this allowed?

Using the appropriate language on product labels is vital to ensuring consumer understanding of product use, safety, and environmental impact. At present in the EU, language requirements are a national issue, which means that individual Member States determine the appropriate language/languages necessary for product labels in certain industries. Pre-packaged foodstuffs must comply with compulsory harmonised EU standards on labelling and advertising. Labels must show:

  • Name under which the product is sold.
  • List of ingredients and quantities.
  • Potential allergens.
  • Minimum durability date.
  • Conditions for keeping.

Labels and packaging in Ireland must be in English, and it is the responsibility of the importer to add extra labels if necessary to ensure that the required information is given in English. Be wary of buying food if you cannot understand the label, especially if you have an allergy that makes certain ingredients dangerous for you.

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