Is Carpetright wrong over the right to claim compensation? | Money

I contracted Carpetright to carpet my new home. Fitters arrived last September and carpeted the bedrooms and landing adequately, but did a poor job on the stairs.

The Croydon store organised two further appointments in November to inspect the stairs and give a quote for the lounge. The first appointment was missed without explanation and I had to contact the store twice more to chase. Two more dates were missed without warning. Again I had to call and visit the store for updates. A date in January was eventually set for the fitting and the remedial work.

I emptied the lounge but no one turned up. After further chasing, Carpetright said it would remedy the stair carpet as a “goodwill gesture” and a new date was set for February. But when I asked for compensation for the days I’d taken unpaid leave to wait in, it said it did not have a compensation policy.

BM, Croydon

With dismal predictability your February date was also a waste of time as fitters had not been properly briefed and a new one was made – and finally fulfilled – this month.

However, the very day I contacted Carpetright’s head office you were offered £122 compensation which is the cost of the fitting. This does not reflect the earnings you lost as a zero-hours contractor, but Carpetright tells me its terms and conditions exclude compensation for missed appointments.

Indeed they do, but can companies let themselves off the hook through small print? According to Miquelle Groves of DAS Law, if a trader fails to fulfil a contract with reasonable care and skill within reasonable time, any clause excluding liability is void and the customer is entitled to damages. Unfortunately, the Consumer Rights Act does not provide for stress and inconvenience.

As for loss of earnings, it all depends on how “foreseeable” any losses were. Groves says: “If you tell the trader that you are having to take unpaid leave to be available for the appointments, it would be ‘foreseeable’ that, if they fail to attend, you will suffer a financial loss that should be compensated for. Ultimately, a court decides whether the financial loss was ‘foreseeable’.”

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions

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