Goods and services bought should not be damaged or faulty or you will be eligible for a partial refund or a full refund. By satisfactory quality you should take into account whether there’s been a price reduction as the standards for a product would not be held as high as something that was full price. Goods and services should be fit for any purpose they are supplied for and should adhere to any sample or description given to you before purchase.
How quickly should I return a faulty product?
It is your right to get a refund for an item that you have rejected within 30 days of buying it if it is faulty. Also as part of your consumer rights 30 days defective goods replacement or repair is possible within six months of purchasing your item.
After those 30 days, you still have the right to repair or replacement, but you will be unable to demand a full refund right away. The difference is with faulty digital content. In this instance, the retailer has one chance to repair or replace any goods or services that it offered before you can claim a refund on a digital download for example.
What can I do after 30 days?
If you appeal after the initial 30 day period, then the retailer has one opportunity to repair the product or provide a full refund if it is not fit for purpose. It is your choice if you want the goods to replaced or repaired, but the retailer can refuse to do this if you choose the option that is a lot more expensive.
If the attempt by the retailer at either repairing or replacing the product is unsuccessful, then it is your right to claim a full or partial refund under the Consumer Rights Act if you intend to keep the product.
Will I get a full refund?
If you have owned the item or product for less than six months, then it is the responsibility of the retailer to give you a full refund if their attempt to repair or replace the product was unsatisfactory. The one exception to this is with motor vehicles as a retailer can make a fair use deduction after the 30 days.
Whether you have bought the goods and services on or before 1st October 2015 does not matter in the first six months from when you bought something as it is the responsibility of the seller to prove that your product was as described and of satisfactory quality when you received it. In other words, it is not your problem or responsibility to prove that the item was not faulty to get it repaired or replaced during the first six months after you bought it.
However after these six months then the onus is on you to prove that the goods bought were faulty or unsatisfactory at the time when they were delivered to you. This means that you may require expert opinion, evidence of similar problems that have occurred in the past or, in more extreme cases, legal advice to provide your evidence. If an attempt at repair or replacement is made but failed then the retailer is allowed to make a deduction from any refund for fair use providing that it is after the first six months of ownership.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you have a maximum of 6 years to take a claim to the small claims court whereas in Scotland the limit is five years. This does not mean that a product has to last for up to six years, it is just that you have this length of time to claim if a retailer refuses to replace or repair a product that is faulty.
Was there a fault at purchase?
Few people are aware that the onus is on them to prove that there was a fault present at the time of purchase of a product six months after buying it for them to get a full refund, partial refund or repair. What makes this difficult is that the law does not explain how you specifically do this which can make things hard when you are asked to do so by the manufacturer or the provider.
As mentioned above, sometimes it is a good idea to get some an independent or expert opinion, typically from a repair shop. However, this technique was more typical of a time where purchases were made frequently on the high street. It would do you no harm in checking if there was a repair shop in your local area so that you could get an opinion from them.
How do I get my complaint dealt with?
It is best for you to act in good time, the quicker, the better. As already mentioned you have the 30 day period from when you take ownership of the goods to claim for a refund or faulty product, and after that period you could be offered a replacement or a repair.
The best way to start is to write to the customer services department of the retailer to ensure that you have a written record as evidence. Write, and if the response is unsatisfactory, then you should escalate the claim further.
It is also essential that when trying to get a replacement or repair for faulty goods and services to state what you want to happen, whether it be a refund and even an apology. You should also quote the relevant laws, which will be the Consumer Rights Act, and should state what you will do if the response from the retailer is not adequate.
If you do choose to go to a repair shop or get an expert opinion, then you should make sure that the retailer is happy with that choice of independent expert.
Another useful tip is searching through social media or website forums to see if people are complaining about the same issues with the same product. This can be very useful evidence for you as it could prove that your problem is not just a one-off and frequently happens with many customers.
If the retailer tells you there is nothing you can do or blames the manufacturer, then our next section will help you find out what you can do.
Who is responsible for faulty goods, retailer or manufacturer?
If you are having problems and are struggling to get a refund, repair or replacement for your goods, then it is necessary for you to report it to the local trading standards department. This is because the retailer is breaching your consumer rights. You should tell the retailer that you are doing this because that may cause them to deal with your complaint.
If the retailer decides to blame the manufacturer, then it is a good idea for you to take your complaint to the consumer ombudsman. Alternatively, you could use your guarantee or warranty.
Can I use a guarantee or warranty?
Electrical goods are sold with a warranty from the manufacturer than usually lasts for one year or with a manufacturer’s guarantee. In some cases, the manufacturer may offer an extended warranty on electrical goods.
Warranties and guarantees are essentially a contract between you and the manufacturer. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to do whatever is outlined in them. This is typically to repair or replace a faulty item. Retailers may sometimes contact the manufacturer for you, but it is not their obligation to do so.
It is important that you know that you still have rights under the Consumer Rights Act or Sale of Goods Act even if the guarantee of warranty has expired as retailers cannot ignore this.
You could be legally entitled to a free repair or replacement by the retailer for a considerable time after the manufacturer’s guarantee, or warranty has expired although this will depend on the extent of the fault and the product itself.
Returning a faulty item
If you need to return an item that is faulty, then you do not need to pay for any of the postage costs. It is the responsibility of the retailer to refund the total cost of the return, particularly if you are asked to return something that was damaged upon arrival.
Having a receipt for the item is always useful if it turns out to be faulty; however, it is not imperative that you have one. In quite a few instances it would be unreasonable for a retailer to expect you to have kept your receipt, particularly if the item picks up a fault a few months after purchase.
A bank statement is sufficient evidence to prove that you have purchased an item.
The return policy of the retailer cannot require that customers take vouchers for an item that has been returned because it was faulty. This is explicitly outlined in the Consumer Rights Act as part of your consumer rights for faulty goods replacement.
Faulty goods caused injury
If you a harmed by an unsafe product then you have the right to sue the manufacturer under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 even if you were not the person that bought the specific product or electrical goods.
Specifically, you can sue for compensation for injury, death and damage or loss or private property so long as the damage caused by the faulty goods exceeds £275.
There is no limit to the compensation that you can receive, and the amount will depend on the harm that was suffered. Of course, some criminal sanctions may need to take place in the more extreme cases. If there was a lack of proper safety information for the product, then this could command up to 12 months’ imprisonment.
This should always be the last resort for anyone seeking compensation of some sort for faulty goods as you should always try and sort out the issue using any of the steps outlined above. However, if all of these attempts leave you with no option but to take things to court, then it is important to note the following issues.
- You will have to follow the Practice Direction in Pre-Action Conduct
- You need to consider if the trader is still trading
- Decide if you have a good chance of winning the case in court
- If you do, then you need to find out if you will be able to recover the money that is owed to you
- You need to decide if the amount that you are claiming for is worth the cost of the court case
These points give you and the opposing party, whether a retailer or manufacturer, clear points to follow to help resolve the complaint. If for some reason this is still not possible then the Practice Direction will give you all the details that you need to take matters to court.