Your rights when buying a service
The law says that services should be carried out with reasonable care and skill. In other words a job should be done to a proper standard of workmanship, so for example if you have had a builder round to fix your roof, it shouldn't start to leak when it rains or if you have had your car repaired it shouldn't still have the same faults present when it is given back.
The job also has to be done within a reasonable time if you haven't already agreed a definite time for completion of the service paid for.
It must also be done for a reasonable charge if no price has been fixed in advance. If you have already agreed the price, you cannot complain later that the charge was unreasonable.
You should always ask the trader what the job is going to cost. Sometimes they may only be able to make an educated guess and this will be an estimate so the price might go up or down. On other occasions they may give you a fixed price and this will be a quote. This should not exceed what was agreed.
If there are goods involved in the provision of the service, for example new windows or car parts then the materials and goods are covered by the same statutory rights as when you buy them directly. For more information see the page on buying goods.
When buying a service it could be worth checking to see if the business or tradesperson doing the job is a member of any trade association. Although membership is not a guarantee of satisfactory work, the trade association may have code of conduct or arbitration procedure to turn to if things go wrong. Some traders claim to be members of trade associations when they are not and this is illegal, but it pays to check with the association first to make sure any claims are true before parting with any money.
What are my options if I am unhappy with the service?
Firstly act quickly and tell the business as soon as possible, either by phoning them or writing or visiting them. For guidance on writing letters of complaint, please refer to the Citizens Advice website. They have a range of letters that you can download and adapt to your own particular case.