Fergus Muirhead answers your consumer questions

Fergus Muirhead
Image caption Fergus answers your money questions on television, radio and online

I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm here to answer any questions you may have about any money or consumer issues.

I'll be dealing with a selection of your queries every other Wednesday on Scotland Live, on Reporting Scotland and here on the BBC Scotland news website.

Please drop me a line here at with your questions.

You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my blog at

Q. I bought a new television five years ago on the basis that it was ready for the digital switchover, with freeview installed. I now find that, despite all this I am having to buy a set top box, that the set does not meet the specifications as detailed at the point of sale and in the manufacturer's literature. What can I do? I paid £799 for the set and can ill afford to shell out again for goods which are in effect faulty and not fit for purpose! D Radin

A. If, as you say, you have it in writing that the TV will be able to be used when the digital changeover has happened then you should write to the manufacturer explaining that you bought the set in good faith and that according to the specifications you received at the time you understood that the set would be suitable for use after the digital changeover. You should ask the manufacturer to confirm that this in fact is or isn't the case and then you can act accordingly. You need to make sure that you write to someone in the Chief Executive's Office, that you give a specific timescale for them to reply to you and that you are ready with a follow-up letter if you hear nothing from them. Alternatively let me see the literature you received and I'll have a word with them for you.

Q. I am currently considering buying a property where I work in Dublin and have been saving for a deposit. I have not yet looked into how much I would be able to borrow for a mortgage as I was working on the principle of accumulating a deposit first. At the moment I have about 10,000 euro available. My dilemma lies with my student loan of which I have £4,500 sterling to pay off and in Ireland this goes against how much I can get as a mortgage. Should I pay off the loan or should I continue to save? If I pay it off would I lose the advantage of the fallen house prices as I would need to continue saving for my deposit, or should I continue to pay it off with the reduction in available mortgage? Iain Briggs

A.There is probably no right answer to this one, so rather than give you a definitive answer I'll talk my way round your options and leave you to come up with your own answer. I would start by saying that some people would argue that house prices have further to fall and if that is the case then it would do you no harm to wait for that to happen, giving you time to repay your student loan and build your savings up again. I think the starting point, regardless of what you end up doing, is to have a look at the figures for the borrowing that is available to you with and without your loan, and then see if you can afford the sort of place you would like to buy while you still have your loan, whether you need to pay it off first, or whether even with the loan paid off you need a bigger deposit before you can buy. As part of that exercise you need to do some detailed budgeting - and by that I mean looking at your monthly income and outgoings and looking at how it would all change if you own your property - and it will change! Analyse how much you can afford to spend on a new property and what that will allow you to buy, and what the impact will be if you still have your student loan or if you have paid it off.

I'd be tempted not to rush in to anything - although I'm saying that not knowing where you are living at the moment and how you are coping with rented accommodation. I think it makes sense to sit down and look at the bigger picture, working out exactly where you are at the moment and what it is that you are trying to achieve. Don't just feel that you have to buy for the sake of buying - make sure it's the right thing for you to do right now, and if you can't convince yourself that it is then leave it for the moment until the time is right. Prices may have gone up or gone down by then and it might cost you a couple of thousand more or less to buy the house you want but in the grand scheme of things does that really matter when it's a home you are buying?

Q. I have a VAX upright vacuum, which was purchased from Comet on 29/12/09. It has developed two faults. The mechanism which is meant to keep the unit upright when selected no longer functions, and the hose attachment to the unit is no longer secure. Comet say I must deal with Vax, who will take the vacuum away, look at it, and repair. I stated to Comet that my contract is with them, not VAX, and I have requested an exchange, which they have refused. Am I within my rights to refuse a repair, and insist on a replacement, or not? Nipendra Dey

A. I would suggest that you go back to Comet and explain to them again that under the Sale of Goods Act your contract is with them and you would like them to deal with the problem. They are correct when they say that you can ask the manufacturer to deal with the issue since I would imagine that the machine is still under warranty and as such the manufacturer has a liability to deal with it. But the retailer has a liability as well and if you choose to take it back there then they should deal with it. You may have to convince them that the fault was there at the time that the machine was purchased since it is over six months old but you should still be able to ask them to deal with it for you. And when I say 'deal with it' I would think that if the machine is less than a year old and if the faults that the unit has developed make it unable to be used properly then you should be able to insist on a replacement.

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