Too many shops are getting your rights wrong

by , Senior Home Researcher Consumer Rights 11 November 2011
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What do you do when you return a faulty item to a shop and they say it’s not their problem? Most of us accept it and leave with no resolution. But our investigation found that too many shops are misinforming customers.

Hand doing thumbs down

A pathetic 16 out of 60 shops managed to clearly inform us that they could be responsible when our undercover shoppers asked for advice about a faulty fridge they’d bought.

We told each shop that a fridge we had bought from them – and which was just out of warranty – had broken. When you buy a product, it should be of satisfactory quality. And so if it develops a fault at a time in its life when this shouldn’t reasonably have happened, the shop could be responsible.

But did staff at these shops manage to tell us this? No. Loads of the shops we tested just didn’t have a clue. And many staff categorically denied we had any rights at all, when this isn’t the case.

We gave the recordings to a lawyer from our Which? Legal services and he only rated nine visits as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ – where we were given an unprompted explanation of when the shop was and wasn’t responsible.

Shoppers fobbed off with excuses

Sometimes, even when staff did say we might have rights we received some baffling explanations of what these were. The included: ‘it’s the European thing’, ‘it’s on a sliding scale’ or ‘you get five years under trading standards’. Hmm.

We tested this at Argos, Comet, Currys, John Lewis and independent shops. And while the shops did vary (Comet had seven visits rated as fair or above, independents just one) the overall picture wasn’t a great one for the shopper.

Is it really too much to ask to expect shops to tell you your rights? Personally, I think retailers should train their staff much better so they have the right knowledge of consumer rights – too many people are being easily fobbed off with these excuses. Have you tried to return something faulty recently?


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Maureen Grimes

I bought a 55in led tv may packed up no picture in Aug 2014.phoned makers they said it was out of warranty after a yr.they can’t do anything surely it should have lasted more than than 15months I paid £450for tv.any help would be appreciated thanks

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