There are a lot of myths and mistakes to be made regarding consumer rights. This handy guide explains they key aspects of your rights, and how to enforce them, to make sure you get a fair deal.
Satisfactory Quality and Reasonably Durable
All goods must fit the description above. If they don’t, contact your retailer. The level of quality and durability is debateable, and depends on the expense and nature of the item you have bought. For instance, if you buy a £300 Chloé hand bag and the strap breaks after a week, then it has not lasted a reasonable amount of time. However, if you buy a £2 bucket and the handle comes off after a year, it will be difficult to make a case to get your money back.
As Described and Fit for Purpose
Goods must also be as they have been described on the packaging, by the staff of the shop or in their online description. This links in with goods being fit for purpose. If you’ve bought a charger for your phone, and it isn’t compatible with your phone, you only have a right to take it back if you have been told it is – for example by member of shop staff, the product’s packaging, or its online description.
If you find a fault, you should quickly log your complaint with the seller, as not registering your problem can affect your rights – you should do with within 4 weeks of noticing the problem to prove you haven’t accepted the fault, though you could still argue your case for up to 6 months. You have a return window of 7 days for online goods to return any goods, even if there is no fault.
It is a common myth that if you spot an item that has been incorrectly underpriced you can have the item at that price. The rule only applies if this incorrect price is given at the point of sale – and it is true that once you have paid for an item the shop cannot try and undo their mistake. So if you are charged £2.99 for a £299 holiday online, and you proceed to checkout there and then, once that payment is confirmed the holiday is yours. Equally, if you get charged 2p for a £20 box set at the checkout in Tesco, once you’ve paid the deal is final.
Policies in shops are only in addition to your Consumer Rights, they cannot contradict them. For example, the popular 28 day return policy in clothes shops means you can take clothes back even if there is no fault and you just don’t like them or they are the wrong size (but are still “as described” because the size is in the label). After this time however, you still have a right to take clothes back if they do not meet the standards of “satisfactory quality, reasonably durable, as described and fit for purpose”.
The same rule applies to guarantees as store polices – they are only an addition to your consumer rights. If you have taken due care of an item, and it breaks outside of the guarantee but within the length of time you should reasonably expect it to last, then you should take it back as it suggests a fault with the product when you were sold it. So if your iPod stops working after 366 days, you can still take it back no matter what the Apple assistant says.
You should state on your receipt that the item has been bought as a gift, to give the recipient the power to take back the gift if it is at fault. Otherwise, the rights still lie with you and so only you have the real right to return or complain.
Losing the Receipt
If you want to take back an item but you can’t find the receipt, you can use a bank statement or other method of proof of purchase in its place (though this is only when enforcing your legal rights, not using a stores policy which may explicitly require a receipt).
Don’t Go to the Manufacturer
Some shops try and deter customers by claiming that consumers will have to take up any issue with the manufacturer. Don’t be fooled – your rights are between you and the seller, and they have an obligation to right any wrongs.
Please note that these are personal, rather than commercial consumer rights and refer to goods not services.