But I didn't agree to that! 

What are my rights if someone does work I haven’t agreed to?

As long as you are specific about the type of work you want done then you don’t have to pay for unauthorised work. This is covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. Make sure you are clear about what you want from the start to avoid any issues later on.

For example, if you want the mechanic to fix the brakes on your car then you should specify that rather than simply telling them to "fix the car".

You should:

  • always be specific about the work you want done;
  • set a monetary limit on the work and advise the service provider of that;
  • get a written quote from the service provider;
  • ask the service provider to contact you about any additional work they think is necessary, including how much it will cost, and not to proceed with the additional work until you have agreed to it.


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Do I still have to pay for a full month for my gym when they close down for 3 days over Christmas?

Most gyms close for a few days around the Christmas period. This will probably have been written into the contract you signed with them so yes, you will have to pay for the full month. It is probably worth checking with your gym on their particular policy.

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My mechanic did more work on my car than I asked him to do and so I’m refusing to pay the extra amount. The mechanic won’t let me have my car back until I do. What can I do?

If you were specific about the work you wanted done, and the mechanic has done work that you did not authorise, then you don’t need to pay for that work and he has no right to hold your car in exchange for payment (holding your car in exchange for payment for work done on the car is called "lien").  If the mechanic won’t agree to return your car you can make a claim at the Disputes Tribunal to settle the issue.

If you weren’t specific about the type of work you wanted done, for example if you just said, “fix the car”, then unfortunately you would need to pay for all the repairs. The mechanic is allowed to hold your car until you pay for the repairs. If you don’t pay within two months then the mechanic can sell the car, after giving one week’s notice. 

More information about what your rights are in relation to services, is on the Consumer Protection website.

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Two months into a one year membership, my dance school moved across town and it’s too far for me to travel to the new location. Can I cancel my membership?

You will need to check your membership agreement about what the dance school’s obligations are to you, and your obligations to it.

It is likely to contain clauses relating to your right (or not) to end your membership before it expires, and whether you can expect a refund if you had paid your membership fees upfront.

If it is not clear from the contract, or if you don’t agree with what it says in the contract, it is well worth talking to the dance school about your concern. They may agree to cancel the rest of your membership for example, or allow you to transfer it to that of another dance school which is more conveniently located.

The school could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act if their membership agreements contain unfair contract terms. An example of this would be if it allows them to change their location (or their fees, or the type of classes they run) so that it’s difficult for members to attend classes – but don’t provide any means for their members to terminate their membership without penalty or receive some other benefit as compensation (e.g. lower fees for the rest of the term of the contract).   

More about this is on our Standard Consumer Contracts page.