How do I distinguish a fake from an authentic review when shopping online?

Q Over the past 18 months, I have done a lot more of my shopping online. In most cases, I rely on consumer reviews to help me decide whether or not to buy. However, there have been a number of times my purchases have looked nothing like the reviews on the company’s website which makes me think some of them might be fake. Is there a way to tell right from wrong when it comes to reviews? Sally, County Kerry

A You are right to take the time to read reviews before you buy. Fake reviews aren’t always easy to spot and may appear to be written by real customers, but there are some signs to watch out for that can help you spot one.

First: if something has an unusually high number of positive reviews compared to others, proceed with caution. Take the time to see if there are other reviews of the company on other forums or websites. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Second: Pay attention to products or services with only positive reviews or five-star ratings – products and services with genuine reviews are more likely to have a mix of reviews and ratings.

Third: Do your research – if you come across a top-notch product or service with consumer reviews that appear to be genuine, test the information by doing your research – especially if it’s a big purchase. Look online in consumer forums and social media for more consumer reviews or comments before you buy.

Fourth: Examine the way reviews are written and determine if the language used sounds authentic. If this sounds more like a product promotion, proceed with caution.

Fifth: Check past reviewer posts: Some websites allow you to view other reviews posted by individual consumer accounts. Look for similar wording or language or consistently high ratings given to different products or services. It could be a sign of a bogus review.

Right to reimbursement for defective refrigerator

Q I bought a new fridge-freezer 18 months ago. Last week it suddenly stopped working. It came with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. When I bought it I also paid for a warranty for additional protection, but it expired last year. Since the fridge-freezer is defective, am I still entitled to a refund? Tom, County Louth

A It is important to separate what you are entitled to under consumer protection law and what you are entitled to under a warranty or guarantee, as they are different. When you buy something in a store, you are protected by consumer law. Regardless of the size, cost or value of the item purchased, under consumer law, the item must be of merchantable quality (i.e. of a reasonable and acceptable standard), fit for its intended use (i.e. capable of being used for its purpose) and as described (meaning it must match the description given verbally – or in an advertisement).

If you purchase an item (such as a new fridge freezer) that is found to be defective or does not meet the above standards, you are entitled to either a full refund or a repair or replacement fridge. Consumer law does not say exactly what option you are entitled to when returning a defective item – so it is up to you to negotiate with the company from which you purchased the refrigerator – to find out which option would be most appropriate. .

The resolution of the problem will probably depend on how long the refrigerator has been used. If a defect occurs within the first six months of owning a property, the defect is considered to have been there when you bought it. If you discover a defect, you have the right to have the item repaired or replaced free of charge, provided you have not caused the damage. This should be a permanent fix and the problem should not recur. If the same defect occurs again, you should be entitled to a replacement or a refund. If you are not happy with the retailer’s offer to repair the item you can say no, but if you do you may need to use the small claims process if you want to go further.

Warranties and warranties are different from your statutory rights, as the terms are usually set by the seller or manufacturer. In addition to the above, you may want to check warranty details to see if you are entitled to have the issue addressed under it. However, be aware that both are in addition to your consumer rights, they do not replace them. So even if a warranty or warranty has expired, you may still be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund in accordance with your statutory rights.

Wise to raise funds through a release of equity?

Q My husband and I are due to retire next year. We fear that we do not have enough in our pension funds to finance our way of life. We own our own house, so we are looking at an equity release program to help supplement our funds. Are there any downsides or should we just go? Maura, Dublin

A There are generally two types of equity release programs. The first is a home reversion program – in which you sell a share of your home for a fixed price, which is usually much lower than the actual market value. You are not borrowing against the value of your house, but rather you are selling part of your house.

The second is a lifetime mortgage – where you borrow money using your home as collateral and the loan is paid off when you sell the property or after you die. You make no repayment on the loan and you continue to own and live in your home. Interest is charged on the money you borrow and added to the original loan amount. The interest rate is generally higher than that of a normal mortgage.

Equity release programs are complicated products. It is therefore essential that you and your husband fully understand how the program works, the risks involved and the full costs. Before making your decision, carefully consider a number of different questions and scenarios.

First: think about the fees and charges you will need to pay. Review and understand the costs of the equity release program, including the value of the interest rate, as well as how the interest is charged. Lifetime mortgage programs often come with compound interest rates, which basically means the longer the mortgage lasts, the more interest you will have to pay.

Second: Think about what happens to plan repayments or the partial portion of your assets if you die. If you take out a life mortgage, you won’t be able to leave the full value of the home to your beneficiaries upon your death – as the lender will need to be paid off first and when interest is added to the amount borrowed, it could be an amount. very consequent.

Third: Know where you stand in terms of ownership – could the lender sell your home against your will? Fourth: Think about what happens if you and / or your husband live longer than expected. Evaluate if you will have enough money left to pay for long-term medical care and living expenses in the future after signing the equity release.

Before making a decision about releasing equity, get independent legal and financial advice.

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