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Problem with deposit paid

Q: I went to a local showroom to see some furniture and eventually got a quotation. I asked the company’s representative if it was possible to see the furniture designed on a plan to see how it would look in my apartment. To do the sketch the company requested me to pay a deposit which they said I could then use on any furniture I decided to order from them.

I did not like how the furniture looked on the sketch, and in fact I requested them to change the sketch a couple of times. Since I was not satisfied with the final designs I paid a designer to re-do them for me. Finally I went to another company that did all the sketches I needed without asking me to pay a deposit.

With regard to the first company I asked if I could use the deposit to purchase a sofa and obviously pay the difference in price. They replied that this is not possible as the deposit paid could only be used as part-payment on a kitchen. They told me that if I do not purchase a kitchen I would lose the deposit.

Is this legal? Can the seller force me to buy a kitchen in order not to lose the deposit? I did not sign any sales contract.

A: A deposit is usually paid as a commitment to buy a specific product or service.

When consumers change their mind about the purchase, legally they are seen as breaching the sales contract and may have to forfeit the deposit.

In your case you said the company’s representative told you that you could use the deposit paid on any furniture you eventually decide to purchase.

To establish whether this is the case or not you need to see what is written on your deposit receipt.

If the deposit paid is clearly listed in the kitchen’s quotation then it must be used on the purchase of a kitchen. If on the other hand, the deposit paid is open and not tied to a specific type of furniture then you should be allowed to use it on any purchase you opt for.

Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
Office for Consumer Affairs
Mizzi House,
National Road,
Blata l-Bajda
HMR 9010

Freephone: 8007 4400
Tel: 2395 2000
Enquiries: info@mccaa.org.mt
Consumer complaints: fair.trading@mccaa.org.mt
Website: www.mccaa.org.mt

MCCAA office hours for the public:
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 12.30pm

European Consumer Centre Malta
(For complaints against traders in other EU states)

47A, South Street,
Valletta.
VLT 1101

Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 3pm.

Tel: 2122 1901
E-mail: ecc.malta@gov.mt

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