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FAQs: Consumer

This information and these FAQs were published in The European Consumer Centre Newsletters, 2008.

Shopping in Northern Ireland can offer great value and convenience for consumers in Ireland, and is extremely popular.  Sometimes consumers are a little confused as to their rights in the two jurisdictions.  See below for some information on this area.

On a related point, one consumer from Dublin wonders if she can use her Free Travel Pass when travelling in NI.

Q:  What do I need to know when shopping in Northern Ireland?

A:  Cross-border shopping in Northern Ireland can offer great value; bear the following points in mind when you go:

Cars are a very popular purchase for cross-border shoppers.  You should also be aware that consumer legislation does not apply to private sales so you should exercise extreme caution if buying privately.  Remember that you will have to re-register the car immediately after you bring it across the border.  See more information on Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) on the Revenue website.

Your consumer rights are enforceable across Europe.  If the item is faulty, you have the right to repair, replacement or refund of the product in question.

Check the returns policy.  Do not assume that you can return items to your local store.  Many chain-stores have branches on both sides of the border; so many people assume that an item can be returned to any branch, or that a voucher may be redeemed at any branch.  While this often is the case, remember that your contract is with the specific store where you purchased the item, and it may not necessarily have any arrangement with other stores.

Q:  I’m 72, living in Dublin and have a Free Travel Pass. Can it be used in Northern Ireland also?

A:  Since April 2007, you can use public transport free of charge in Northern Ireland as well as in Ireland, but you will need to apply for a separate ‘SmartPass’ card.

You can obtain the application form (Form FTNI1) from your local social welfare office, Citizens Information Centre or by phoning Lo-call 1890 202325.  It may take up to six weeks to process the application for a SmartPass card.

If you have had a problem with a purchase of goods or services from another EU country, please contact The European Consumer Centre on 00353 1 8090600 or at info@eccdublin.ie.  For information on your consumer rights when buying something in another European country, see www.eccdublin.ie.

The European Consumer Centre is funded by the European Commission and the National Consumer Agency.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the European Consumer Centre cannot be held responsible for matters arising from any errors or omissions contained in this publication. The information provided is intended as a guide only and not as a legal interpretation.

See also the European Consumer Council, Dublin