Know your rights: Buying a service

I just had a new patio fitted by a landscape gardener 2 months ago. The patio slabs are already beginning to crack. I am not happy with the quality of the work. What can I do?

When you hire someone to perform a service you are making a contract. As parties to the contract, you and the landscape gardener (the ‘service supplier’) have rights and obligations.  If your service supplier does not do what they said they would, they are in breach of the contract. Contracts can be written or verbal and a verbal agreement is still legally binding.

Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980 you can expect that:

  • The supplier has the necessary skill to provide the service
  • The service will be provided with proper care and diligence
  • The materials used will be sound
  • Any goods supplied with the service will be of merchantable quality (that is of reasonable and acceptable standard, taking into account other factors such as durability and price)

Your service supplier is not allowed to mislead you. They should give you accurate and truthful information about the service. A misleading claim includes where you were told the service is of particular standard or quality and it isn’t.

If something goes wrong, your service supplier must put things right. As a general rule, the service supplier can repair or replace the service. Alternatively, they can refund the costs of the service to you.

If you are not happy with the quality of the service you should:

  • Act as soon as you can – a delay can indicate that you have accepted faulty services
  • Do not attempt to repair what went wrong yourself or give it to anyone else to repair it
  • Make sure that you have a proof of purchase (a receipt, cheque stub, credit card statement or invoice)
  • Keep all evidence of damage caused by poor work, for example take photos
  • Check any warranty or guarantee you got from your service provider (the warranty or guarantee is the service supplier’s promise about the quality of their services and what they will do if there are problems). 

First, complain to the service supplier – explain what the problem is and how you want it to be put right. Put your complaint in writing so that you have a record. If you complain over-the-phone or face-to-face make sure to take note of what was agreed.

If the service supplier disputes your claims about the quality of the work, you may need to get the opinion of an independent expert.

Finally, if you have complained to the service supplier and the problem is still not resolved, you can use the small claims procedure (for jobs less than €2,000) or take a civil case (for claims over €2,000).

You can get more advice in our documents on complaining about building or home improvements and on buying a service.

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