Seven smart ways to upgrade your home with Black Friday deals


THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.

Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.

Jane Hamilton, property expert


Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for making sure your home is safe

Thrifty ways to upgrade

SAVE big on furnishing your home this Black Friday weekend.

It’s well worth bargain-hunting as on average we spend more than £15,000 doing up our homes. Here are my top tips to get it right.

Follow our tips to upgrade your home at a discount


Follow our tips to upgrade your home at a discountCredit: Alamy

MAKE LISTS BEFORE YOU SHOP: You may spot items at 90 per cent off, but if they don’t fit your overall look, they are a waste of money. Stick to styles, colours and textures that work in your home.

CONSIDER EX-DISPLAY: This is a thrifty way to get big items at an affordable price. Haggle to drive down prices even further.

SHOP OUT OF SEASON: Look for stock that stores are trying to shift, such as outdoor furniture or light summer bedding and blinds. The combination of off-season sales and mega discounts means you can bag a serious bargain.

TRADE UP: Black Friday weekend is a chance to buy what you can’t normally afford, such as designer lighting. So check out upmarket sites.

UPDATE BASICS: You don’t have to spend big. Mirrors, cushions and duvet covers are all on sale for less than £20 and can instantly update a room.

GO BIG TICKET: Need an expensive item such as a sofa or bed? Ensure you compare prices across several stores and layer on savings via cashback sites and discount codes.

CHECK DELIVERY TIMES: Some furniture is made to order and won’t be ready until after Christmas.

 Buy of the week

Hexham can make you happy: Check out our buy of the week


Hexham can make you happy: Check out our buy of the week

THE Northumberland market town of Hexham is the UK’s happiest place to live, according to Rightmove’s annual survey.

Put a smile on your face with this newly renovated two-bed stone cottage.
It’s yours for £245,000 at

Are you really ready?

ALMOST three- quarters of homeowners have delayed a renovation project at least once, new research from tradesman comparison site Rated People reveals.

Chief executive Adrienne Minster said: “Improving your home can be a big undertaking in terms of money, time and energy so it’s understandable that it might be a scary prospect.”

 Deal of the week

Make a significant saving with our stylish deal of the week


Make a significant saving with our stylish deal of the week

THIS Black Friday deal won’t hang around. Round black gloss dining table with four orange aura velvet tub chairs, was £699.97 now £399.97 at

SAVE: £300

Judge Rinder, legal expert

Judge Rinder has advice for readers with legal issues


Judge Rinder has advice for readers with legal issues

‘‘Daughter’s expensive engagement ring snapped after just over a year but jewellers say it’s not their problem’’

Q) MY daughter got engaged two years ago and the ring was purchased from a jewellers. It was initially too big, so the jewellers sent it off to be made smaller.

After just over a year the ring snapped underneath so she returned it, but was told it was out of warranty and the insurance was finished so they would not replace, repair or refund the ring.

She believes it is faulty due to the resize weakening it, meaning the work was carried out poorly. But the jewellers will not accept this.

It was an investment piece so we cannot understand how it has lasted barely a year. The jewellers are saying they will only repair it if she pays.

Tracey, Harlow, Essex

A) It seems to me that this jeweller is totally out of order. Your daughter’s fiancé may have been given a document when he purchased the ring which stated in clear terms that the shop was only liable for damage to jewellery for a limited period of time, but I doubt it.

The bottom line is that a quality ring made of precious metal should not corrode and break so quickly and it is highly likely that the ring was weakened when it was altered.

As you can prove that the jeweller is at fault, it is up to them to make the necessary repairs without charging you.

Email the director of the company or the head of customer services asking them to justify in writing why they feel they are legally entitled to refuse to carry out this work. I bet they can’t.

If they continue to refuse to help, I would threaten to take this matter to the small claims court and I would also make sure others are aware of this store’s terrible service.

Q) I LENT my car to an unemployed friend to collect his food parcel from a food bank. He said the parking machine was not working and he was unable to pay to park.

I have since received a parking ticket, which I am refusing to pay.

My friend is unfortunately now in prison, and I have sent the parking company proof of this in the form of a certificate from the crown court.

However, the parking company is hounding me with charge notices and saying it will take legal proceedings if I do not pay.

I have asked the firm for proof its machine was working at the time in question but my request has been ignored. What can I do?

Janet, Leicester

A) Even though you weren’t driving the car, as the registered keeper of it, I’m afraid you are ultimately legally responsible for the penalty charge notice.

You could continue to make representations and hope the company applies its discretion and cancels the ticket but I doubt this will work.

This is a fine you are going to have to pay and hope that your friend refunds you when he is released from prison. Good luck.

Keen to split

Q) MY partner and I have broken up, but we have continued to live together, splitting our mortgage payments and other bills 50/50.

The mortgage will be paid off in full by May next year. Could I then put the house on the market to acquire my half and move out even if my ex doesn’t want to sell up?

Angela, Oldham

A) This isn’t as legally simple as it should be.

In principle, you own this property in equal share with your ex-partner, but unless you have some sort of binding agreement between the two of you forcing the sale of your home once the mortgage was paid off or requiring your ex-partner to buy you out, this may not be quick and straightforward, especially if he resists.

I would advise you in the strongest possible terms to discuss this issue calmly with your ex and, as soon as possible, get some legal advice.

It may be that it’s wise to draw up a memorandum that precisely specifies the timing of when and how the property is to be split. It’s always a good idea to get this in writing.

Mel Hunter, reader’s champion

Mel Hunter helps a reader solve a problem


Mel Hunter helps a reader solve a problem

Vexed by Vax ignoring me

Q) I BOUGHT a Vax Blade cordless vacuum cleaner and used it around three times before the battery showed a fault and would not recharge, leaving the cleaner unusable.

Since then, I have wasted hours of time holding on the phone as calls are never answered. I also sent ten messages to the helpline via Messenger, but no one has got back to me.

The whole experience has left me so angry that I wrote to the managing director of Vax by recorded delivery, but still have no response.

I do not think spending £179 on a cleaner that is lying in the box is a great advert for Vax, but all I want is a replacement battery.

Irene, Renfrewshire

A) You had been trying for three months to resolve this issue before you asked for my help.

It was a simple enough problem to solve but, like many call centres I am hearing about, getting through proved impossible. The last time you tried, the phone line cut out when you were “number seven” in the queue. You were so cheesed off you said you felt like “throwing the machine away”.

Luckily, I got through to Vax before you gave in, and within a day you had been contacted and the battery was on its way to you.

Vax told me that, even though it could see you had been in touch via live chat, it was unable to contact you back as the machine had been bought by your son-in-law and was registered to his account instead.

It replaced the battery quickly and has now set up your own account, which should help in future.

A Vax spokesperson said: “We have apologised to Ms Hazlett as this is not the high level of service that Vax provides its customers and this case will be addressed in future training meetings.”

Getting a refund from Samsung was not an easy task


Getting a refund from Samsung was not an easy taskCredit:

Q) I PRE-ORDERED the new Samsung Z Flip 3, but when it arrived I was unhappy with the quality and returned it.

Samsung sent a ­courier to collect it from my house.

It aims to give a refund within ten days but six weeks later, I still have not had one.

I have contacted the company at least 12 times and spent hours on hold. The firm tells me the phone has not yet arrived, even though I have provided the tracking number.

The service has been appalling, with people promising me things but doing nothing. I am more than £850 out of pocket.

Karl, West Yorks

A) Five days after I contacted Samsung for you, you finally got confirmation that the phone had been received and the refund was being processed.

Samsung blamed the delivery company, but that does not explain why the tech firm left you hanging on without explanation.

You got your money back, plus an £80 voucher by way of apology.

A Samsung spokes-person said: “We aim to deliver the best possible experience for our valued customers.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused and have investigated this matter with our courier ­partner.”

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