When you pay for a service – for example, from a dry cleaner, travel agent, car repairer, hairdresser or builder – you are entitled to certain standards. A service should be carried out:

with reasonable care and skill – a job should be done to a proper standard of workmanship. If you get a new extension to your house, the walls should not start to crack and the roof must not leak;
within a reasonable time – even if you have not actually agreed a definite completion time with the supplier of the service; at a reasonable charge, if no price has been fixed in advance – if the price was fixed at the outset, or some other way of working out the charge was agreed, you cannot complain later that it is unreasonable. Always ask a trader how much a particular job will cost. The trader may only be able to make an informed guess at the cost and give you an estimate. If you agree a fixed cost it is usually called a quotation. A fixed price is binding whatever it is called.

Where materials (such as bricks or wallpaper) are used in the provision of a service, or the service involves fitting goods (such as double-glazing or radiators), the materials and goods are covered by the same statutory rights as when you buy them directly.

Whether you are buying goods or services, it could be worth checking, before you part with your money, whether the business or person providing the service is a member of a trade association. Membership does not guarantee satisfactory work, but if anything goes wrong, it could make it easier to get things put right. In some sectors trade associations are very active and have codes of practice. If a trader does adhere to a code of practice this may also benefit you if a problem arises.

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