/ Home & Energy

Update: Brexit – what would a good outcome for consumers look like?


Now that Article 50 has been triggered it’s essential that consumer groups, businesses, regulators and governments come together to ensure that we help to secure the best outcomes for consumers.

Today Which? and BEUC (the umbrella European consumer organisation) held a joint conference to focus on how we can secure a positive outcome for UK and EU consumers from Brexit.

We believe that consumers across Europe will have broadly similar objectives as we look at the impact of Brexit on consumer rights, financial services and food. Our aim today was to help identify where we have common ground as we all navigate the changes to this relationship.

Consumer interests

Throughout our 60 year history, Which? has played a key role in campaigning to secure a number of the safety protections that all EU consumers now enjoy.

Back in 1964 we campaigned to promote use of lead-free paint on toys and for safer electric blankets. We have lobbied to shape key UK and European consumer law, including the Unfair Contract Terms Act in 1977, the Consumer Safety Act in 1978 and the Sale of Goods Act in 1979.

Many UK consumer rights and protections hail from the six core EU consumer directives, as well as the Consumer Rights Directive. But there are also some UK additions, and as a nation we have often decided to go beyond the minimum rights set at an EU level.

Governments and regulators should not assume that the core six directives are the only concerns for consumer organisations. It is essential to recognise that consumer rights cut across every sector of society.

It is also short-sighted to think that consumer interests are confined by hard borders or within one member state. As consumers increasingly buy cross-border and access services such as bank accounts when travelling abroad, we must think beyond physical boundaries.

The ever-increasing mobility of both leisure and business travellers also means that consumer interests will continue to be enmeshed within and outside their home country.

Brexit and consumers

In the past couple of months, both Which? and BEUC have published some key principles as a rough guide to negotiations, with consumer interests in mind. This has shown the similarities in the priorities for consumers on both sides of the Channel.

Firstly, we both recognise the need for negotiators to take account of the impact of Brexit on the cost of living. To prevent competition being limited, and consumers from being harmed, it’s essential to maintain affordable access to goods and services.

Secondly, we agree that governments must ensure that essential consumer rights are maintained or even strengthened. Many of the rights that consumers have come to expect are currently shaped and determined at EU level.

Safeguarding consumer protection and safety is also important. This includes delivering a robust framework for product safety and standards.

Both BEUC and Which? expect to see a robust and ambitious system of consumer enforcement. Global markets need co-ordinated enforcement and systematic dialogue between regulators, so it’s key that the effectiveness of the enforcement system mustn’t be watered down.

Finally, it’s essential that full account is taken of consumer interests in the Brexit process by negotiators on both sides in order to deliver a good deal for consumers.

These are the issues we were debating alongside BEUC and other consumer organisations, businesses and experts at today’s conference, and we would like to hear your thoughts too.

Update: 22nd August 2017

The UK government has announced its proposals to ensure consumer protections remain in place following the UK’s exit from the EU in March 2019. The same plans will look to keep goods already on the market in the UK and EU on sale in those regions..

The publications also urge the EU to widen its definition of the availability of goods on the market to include services, in order to provide full legal certainty and avoid disruption for consumers and businesses.

The proposals call for:

  • UK consumer protection watchdogs should continue to have access to information about unsafe products, such as medicines and food, and ‘mechanisms to take action with respect to non-compliant goods’.
  • Guarantees that goods on sale before exit day, in March 2019, can continue to be sold in the UK and EU, without any additional requirements or restrictions.
  • Products that have been authorised for sale in the EU, such as approval for a certain model of a car, should remain valid in both markets after exit.

Peter Vicary-Smith, Chief Executive of Which?, said: ‘It’s right for the Government to seek certainty for consumers, who will want to know that they can still get the products they value the day after we leave the EU. If consumer confidence is to be maintained, consumers must be a much more fundamental part of the Government’s Brexit strategy.’

The government has also suggested that cross-border business disputes could become lengthier and more complicated unless Britain secures an agreement to continue co-operation arrangements with the EU post-Brexit. According to the government it’s vital for both British and EU businesses and consumers to agree ‘coherent common rules’ for civil cases following the UK’s withdrawal. In the case of no deal being reached UK citizens may have to fall back on international rules that officials accept are slower and less effective.

At present these are government proposals. The final outcome will depend on progress made during negotiations.

What do you think of the proposals? Do you have any concerns regarding your consumer rights following Brexit?


I’m sorry, but unless PV-S is willing to engage with the people to whom he’s addressing this, I feel it’s an exercise in futility. Mr Peter Vicary-Smith has never, ever engaged on any of the Which? forums and closed the original, ground breaking forum down. You should be aware, Mr V-Smith, that talking at people isn’t the best way to communicate.


Hi Ian, I know that this has come up previously but I’d like to reassure you that this isn’t an opportunity to talk at you. We’re aiming to facilitate discussion Brexit and consumers and ensure that important consumer issues are forgotten in negotiations, and while we have views of our own which have been outlined above, we’re keen for your input on this too.


Missing a “not” line 3 Lauren.
Specific issues were not really given above, which is why I suggested it was without substance (sorry, I am not diplomatic, am I?). I’d like specific problems that need resolution being put forward by Which? Many of us will not know just what particular issues might, or might not be problematic. Which?, I hope, will.


Lauren: I really appreciate that you and the rest of the team do engage, and engage positively. This was more of a long standing issue I have, to be honest, but it seems MrV-Smith does not really grasp the true potential of the digital presence in Which? and how it can be effectively employed, not only to gain ideas and views, but to enhance and develop what Which? is doing, what it should be doing and how best it can go about realising the core aims of the institution. All that requires that he engages, but I fear that’s a forlorn hope.


Sounds like a wish list without substance. I’d like specific proposals from Which? such as getting a proper Trading Standards working, enforcing the Consumer Rights Act, having a more dedicated Consumers Minister, seeing Which? engage with BSI, get Whirlpool customers sorted out with working dryers now, not telling them to unplug them……..In other words do what already needs to be done.

I’d like a link (must have missed it) to the talks with BEUC to see what was discussed and what the proposals were.

I haven’t seen Which? members approached through Connect on Brexit. That might be a good thing to do.

Safety Standards will remain in force because they allow us to trade with Europe – and many other countries. We have better consumer law than Europe – 6 years instead of 2 to bring a claim – if only it was properly supported. Presumably food safety will comply with the EU so we can export.

Please take the initiative Which? as the Consumers Association and tell us what you want to achieve when we eventually depart the EU, and where you see contentious issues. Then we can discuss.


Hi Malcolm, there’s no relevant link I can give you at the moment, but you can see some of the commentary from today’s conference here: https://twitter.com/hashtag/brexitconsumers?src=hash


Thanks Lauren. Will the proceedings be published by Which? and BEUC?


Much has been said about -once we are “free” we will make our own decisions and that was the motivation of the Leave voters they want to see this country rule itself not still be governed by the EU . This rhetoric was backed up by many in the media and the peoples emotions ramped up if they are let down by an EU agreement MK 11 where concession after concession is made it will certainly anger the 52 % of voters who voted to leave . You all heard the rhetoric coming out of France +Germany and the disapproval of even suggestions of a new approach to Europe and retaliation if Britain takes a hard-line so just what concessions are going to be made ?? The latest rumor , which I hope is NOT true ?? is that the fishermen of Britain will be badly let down by HMG as they are going to use it as a bargaining tool – sell -off our waters for concessions which they thought they would get back and VOTED to leave on just that promise by the government at the time . As far as -“no hard borders ” has someone told the SNP that ? I ask because TM insists it will be a hard border between Scotland+ England in the event of them voting for independence , even though a meeting with the Eire Prime Minister led to – “no hard border ” . Before any talk of secondary policies are thought about its time we were told exactly WHAT is going to change and what is NOT going to change . Speculation on other issues are daft if the main ones haven’t even been agreed . I personally think a lot has not been decided yet and making , off the cuff judgements which will affect a population of what 80 million ? is downright dangerous to the point of civil unrest . I voted to stay but now that the majority voted to leave I respect that vote and want sure , correct, positive action from HMG even if they make a few mistakes its the bigger picture that counts. NO cheap deals please that are to the disadvantage of the majority of the population because it shows a lack of strategy and forward thinking as well as backstabbing the citizens of this country after the months of media hype and how “great ” it will be to leave. If Iceland can protect is fishing waters why cant Britain? and no one-sided deals selling off our democratic right to decide our own fate and trade NOT decided by Big Business USA or EU. Do you want your vote to mean nothing , do you want another country telling you what to do internally and your Laws ,made of no value just to get a trade deal . The majority wanted away from that , dont impose a foreign countries laws on our right to decide locally who or what we want to run our local businesses and Shires , the ones wanting to do this wont allow the same to their own country.


If the recent study done by King’s College, London, is right, it seems that the main factors behind the Brexit majority was a combination of three tabloids and Immigration:

“King’s College London’s centre for the study of media, communication and power (CMCP) looked at more than 15,000 articles published online by 20 national news outlets. The study found that immigration and the economy were the two most-covered issues in coverage described by as “acrimonious and divisive”.

Media interest in immigration more than tripled during the 10-week campaign, rising faster than any other political issue and appearing on 99 front pages, compared with 82 about the economy. Most of these front pages (79) were published by pro-leave newspapers.

Specific nationalities were singled out for particularly negative coverage – especially Turks and Albanians, but also Romanians and Poles.

The majority of this negative coverage was from three online publications: the Mail, the Sun and the Express. Some of them led to complaints, including the “Let us in: we’re from Europe” Mail front page that needed a correction after it was revealed that the refugees depicted were from the Middle East.”

The full study can be found here: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/policy-institute/CMCP/UK-media-coverage-of-the-2016-EU-Referendum-campaign.pdf


This seems to overlook all those who don’t read these papers, and all those who are capable of thinking for themselves.


Yes – it’s a very one-dimensional piece of analysis but interesting nevertheless. The academics should have told us it was going to be as bad as that before we had the vote, so I blame them for the outcome!


It’s interesting, if only because it shows two things: the viscous anti-immigration stance advanced by some newspaper proprietors for whatever reasons and the simple fact that, even if you don’t read those paper (I don’t) you cannot fail to become aware of their headines as they’re in every supermarket clamouring for your attention.

The ‘thinking for themselves’ argument is interesting. For people to be able to do that they need information and they need it as accurate and disinterested as possible. That wasn’t much in evidence, I don’t think.


We’ve been in the EU for 40 years and over that time many have formed views on how good for us – or not – it was. Views are not suddenly made by a few recent newspaper headlines nor because a referendum was called; that simply for many (I believe) crystalised their views.

These same comments apply equally to those who voted to remain – were they only influenced by headlines spotted in the supermarket? I doubt it.

I have much more faith in the ability of most of we UK citizens to have the brainpower to think for ourselves, on a whole range of issues. We’ll shortly be faced with a general election; do we expect most voters to be guided by newspaper headlines, or might they have formed views based on years of experiencing the effects of politics and the performance of governments? Will we by swayed by give-away manifestos (about the only time government give us “presents” or will we use our thinking faculties and common sense? The latter, I expect.


Yes – but where do they get the information to have “formed views on how good for us – or not – it” is? Probably newspapers – and they’re the ones manipulating public opinion.

What you’re essentially saying is that advertising doesn’t work. Seems billions are being spent by people who clearly don’t agree with you.


How do you, or any of us, form views? i don’t take a newspaper, but look at and listen to various broadcast information. I also subscribe to Private Eye. You have to look critically at what you are told. As I do not have any direct involvement with the EU, nor government, I can only accumulate the diverse information, views, opinions, facts and factoids that abound, absorb these and allow my own views to form.

I am not saying my views are right for anyone else, but they are mine. I haven’t told remainers they are wrong – and, of course, you don’t know what my view was. What I can say that it was not a black and white issue; there was and is a lot for and against. My decision was probably as close as the overall referendum.

Is there some secret to knowing the “right” course of action that I have missed?


That’s a very strange question. I’m curious why you ask it. But we’re moving off the original track, in which you stated “many have formed views on how good for us – or not – it was”“. I simply pointed out that people absorb their information from news sources – and newspapers are one of the most ubiquitous sources for that. Furthermore, it is well established that newspapers are often slanted, inaccurate and manipulative. Finally, the recent study seems to suggest the majority of newspapers were anti-remain.

When you say “views, opinions, facts and factoids that abound, that’s exactly what I’m saying: they are around and mainly from Newspapers, TV and Radio.


I see we agree on the main sources of information – but there are many of them, not all with the same mantra, and many of us have been exposed to news about the EU over 40 years. So we are not making decisions on the immediate media output.

It is well established that newspapers are often slanted – exactly the point and why the thinking UK will view them as such.

Back to my question (is that the one that you thought was strange?). If the Brexiteers were wrong, why were the Remainers right? Just how do you decide? Unless someone has a crystal ball.


Well, like you I don’t think it was a clear cut choice. My only point was that for a very, very long time the mainly anti-EU tabloids have been running a protracted campaign of disinformation. It’s a little like Health and Safety. Shortly after the legislation was passed the tabloids repeatedly ran stories to suggest how absurd it was. To facilitate that they dug up story after story such as “Flip flops being banned from the workplace”, “Park benches must be replaced because they are three inches too low” and so on, every single one of which was disproved, but only after rigorous research and investigation, by which time the damage had been done.

So although there may well have been stories about the EU for forty years many of those will have been invented or plain wrong, so the general effect was to sow mistrust into the minds of the listeners / readers / viewers. And that role has now been usurped by social media, it would seem. Wonderful.

Rusty Moskvitch says:
13 May 2017

Malcolm r – I do not read those or any other papers because they are often littered with lies, distortions, manufactured stories and slanted, sensationalised fake news. I do take notice of BBC Radio 4 news and BBC TV news and Sky TV news. From these sources I can generally detect the truth. And that is why I voted to Remain. Please remember the referendum was not legally binding and the very small majority of the result would in many cases have been declared too close to be decisive and withing a ‘margin of error’. When you factor in all the idiots who were led by the nose by the false news relating to the EU over the years and the many lies told by the Leave campaign, it shows that the result was highly suspect.


How do you – or anyone – differentiate between “false” and “real” news unless we have specialist and direct involvement. I can only aggregate all that is reported over the years and form an opinion. Seemingly you regard Radio 4 and the BBC TV news as good sources; so do I if you cut through the occasional bias of the interviewers. I don’t trust commercial news channels so much because they are likely to have proprietorial agenda behind them, just like the newspapers.

So somehow we come back to all the Remainers being right and all Brexiteers being misled? Only one side could think independently but not the other? You can apply the same “logic” to elections.

If we assume an equal proportion of those who voted either way are capable of independent thought, then that still leaves a small, but clear majority. I don’t know what “legally binding” means in this context but it would seem a gross injustice if a result was ignored simply because one group of people thought they had more right to their view than others.

Perhaps in future we should attach a requirement for a specific % majority to be attained before we make a change to something – a bit like the chairman’s casting vote preserving the status quo in the event of tied vote.

bishbut says:
12 May 2017

At the moment very few people have shown any interest at all in this conversation just the same old voices as usual


Precisely because Bishbut, the negotiations are being kept as secret as possible and the public is not in a position to comment on any secondary parts of them . Why pass comment when it could be overruled by future legislation , you dont put the cart before the horse . Now if the headlines of the convo were- Should this country put the conditions of negotiations that the British Economy /Trade/ well being of its citizens FIRST in ALL negotiations rather than trade them off to the benefit of foreign countries ? Now that would bring bin a multitude of posts IF Which publicised it ?

Patrick Taylor says:
12 May 2017

11 May 2017 / Home & Energy
Brexit: what would a good outcome for consumers look like?

Rather like saying ” breathing is good” without defining what good means.

What I find faintly amusing is all the time TTIP was on the blocks it was a non-subject for Which? though BUEC did publish plenty. Brexit though does appear to be newsworthy and therefore it is rolled out for discussion despite it being way way more complcated that TTIP.

However as this is an opportunity to look at how the future might be improved. Certainly we know that the European consumer bodies are prepared to go to Court over specific cases and hopefully Which? will take this on-board.

In India all civil cases, and most of this is consumer disputes, are available on-line and are searchable. What an advance for Western countries if citizens here could search for companies with bad reputations/practices.

Citizens could be educated on cartels such as Unilever and P&G manipulating the detergent market, and the value of properly protected and rewarded whistleblowers to help stamp-out corruption .


I suspect that Which? does not see these issues as part of its remit, since they don’t directly impact in our day to day life as a consumer, though I certainly don’t underestimate their importance. You raised TTIP on a number of occasions.

I would like to see every company required provide a link on its homepage to a database of proven misdemeanours and for annual reports to contain this information.

Roberto says:
12 May 2017

I hear all around comments that suggest that as brexit has already happened, nothing worse than that we have already felt will hit us… I am incredulous that some are so naive! Just on moving goods we will see far worse than just cost and delays escalating. We are not stupid (or are we?) into believing that our politicians have understood the whole package of frontiers being reimposed across all areas including standards falling that consumers have come to assume will remain.

Such naivetee is demonstrated by a PM that is asking for a larger majority “to help her negotiate a good outcome”. She has given notice that she will divorce from the EU/EEA/Customs Union (art 50 only covers the EU) but she cannot believe that she can maintain her/our “matrimonial rights afterwards” with the odd quickie (on trade) … We have to ensure the politicians on our side are made responsible for the enormity of their incompetence if they get it all wrong.


How would you hold them responsible? Not that I can’t think of several ways…

Andrew Rylah says:
14 May 2017

A good Brexit outcome for consumers? No Brexit at all!


But that’s already been rejected, Andrew, and we have signed our release application. I voted to remain but we are where we are and now have to make the best of it.

A good outcome for consumers would include keeping all the beneficial protections we have acquired over the last forty years [many of which the UK proposed and which made Europe a more civilised place!] and to discard all the unnecessary and interfering regulations which make life a misery. However, we must maintain compliance with EU regulations for all exports to the EU even if we ignore them at home [as certain EU countries have been doing for years]. I sometimes think the other EU states will be glad to see the back of the UK and should pay us to get out a.s.a.p.!


Boris has suggested they owe us money from the assets we have invested in.

The official attitude of certain puerile members of the EU exemplify the childish nature of European politics. You would think grown up people in positions of influence would behave – at least outwardly – with respect for each other and their views. However, looking around the world there are glaring examples of the opposite.

I want to get the separation over and done with as quickly and cleanly as possible and let us see how well we can make our way in the big wide world once again. I doubt when we leave Europe that will be an end to their internal problems.


Your second paragraph does, of course, refer to Johnson rather well.


I’d like to get the warm-up acts off the stage a.s.a.p. and get on with the real negotiations. Nobody knows yet what the right figure is for meeting our long-term obligations [pension funds, continuing programmes, property rights, etc] so the media screaming every time somebody mentions an amount isn’t helping. Plucking numbers out of thin air and seeing if they alarm people is a pointless way of going about it. The Foreign Secretary should go on a cycling tour to inspect our Pacific and South Atlantic territories and not come back till it’s over.

Tony says:
12 June 2017

A lot depends on the focal length of the lens you look at BREXIT through. At a micro level, we have Roaming Charges abolished, Flight Delay compensation and the like.

At the wider view, we have the impact of European Competition law which results in the likes of the HS2 project being handed on a platter to non UK companies and a currency kept aflot by it’s own hype.

The EU has a set of accounts which many incorrectly say ‘have never been signed off’ but which have in fact been Qualified with such comments as ‘materially affected by error’ with the acknowledgement that real fraud exists in the EU accounts nad has for over 20 years. Were this a company ……………… It wouldn’t be a company. The Directors would have been struck off and jailed. But that is politics for you.

Perhaps it would be better if we bent to the will of the unellected (by popular mandate) Brussles elite and let them take over all member country law to make this a fairer world that we live in. Perhaps the free trade is worth it. I certainly know one Professor who is horrified at the loss of handed out grants and wants ot continue grovelling to Brussels.

Or perhaps we should re-grow an impressive pair and excercise the democratic mandate our parents, grandparents and great grand parents died for in the last century. Old fashioned I know. But perhaps pride in something other than what phone we posses or latest Facebook post has a place in the scheme of things.


A good outcome for consumers would be remaining in the Single Market and enjoying all the protections and freedoms provided by current and future EU legislation. Irrespective of any rhetoric to the contrary by politicians, the ballot paper asked the nation only whether it wanted to leave the EU, not whether it wanted to leave the EEA or Single Market. To leave these two without a referendum would be undemocratic.


I agree, and wonder how many of the voters understood these issues.


Other than spite I wonder why the UK should be prevented by Europe from having a free trade agreement. We buy from each other and I doubt either population or commercial organisations would want to impede that by artificial means.

I do not want to part of an overpaid and over-restrictive unaccountable bureaucracy that gives funds away incompetently and in favoured ways – the agricultural policy being one continuing example – and is dominated by the interests of two countries.

But just who are these people who “understand” such things – I doubt anyone really understands the mechanics of such a large and complex organisation.

A democracy has to express its view as a collection of individual opinions, not overridden by some “superior” class of supposedly more knowledgeable people. If those with knowledge are unable to make a clear and logical case in the time before the vote then perhaps there are not overwhelmingly clearcut cases to be made – as we found.


Remind me of how you voted in the Referendum, Malcolm. If I’m not mistaken, it was the same as me.


I have no intention of saying how I voted; that is a personal matter. What I did say was that my decision was not at all clearcut, but was only slightly in favour of one way.


You’ve already said how you voted – around seven months ago, IIRC.


How I voted is irrelevant to this Convo.


Absolutely true. I was simply reminding you that you’d already told us.

Seamus says:
16 May 2017

I would say that the single most important UKxit issue (UKxit because it’s not Brexit as we are dragging Northern Ireland with us) for consumers must be food standards. If we go down the ultra route currently not ruled out by TM then British and Northern Irish agriculture will be exposed to competition from the USA and under pressure to accept their appalling standards or go under.

There will be no FTA in place by March 2019 or perhaps ever . This makes it essential that in the medium term, at least, that the UK remain in the EEA.


In the US (I’m not sure if it applies to all states), chicken is chemically treated to deal with campylobacter and other food poisoning bacteria: http://www.beuc.eu/blog/what-is-wrong-with-chlorinated-chicken/

Europe has resisted this approach but I am not confident about the future. Anyone fancy chicken treated with bleach?

Ian says:
23 June 2017

NO Brexit is better than a Bad Brexit.

B Lander says:
12 July 2017

It looks like we will replace free trade with Europe with free trade with the US which will mean highly subsidised, genetically modified, factory farmed US food products will destroy the livelihoods of British farmers and lower the standards of our supermarket food.


You have me totally on your side here B.Lander and some “shocking” news if you are of a religious nature and a Roman Catholic it seems the Vatican has approved the use of GMO religious wavers . As this is highly controversial I will stop there as I have further info but dont ask me to post it.


If you want some more very shocking news on this that has just been emailed to me from the USA is that Monsanto has just been given the”go-ahead ” by the US Environmental Protection Agency to actually produce genetically engineered food products with those carcinogenic chemicals built into the crops .Using a process called RNA interference it will kill rootworms but what will it do to orther creatures and humans . Why do I say that , because its been approved WITHOUT long term testing , not even a single trial on RNAi altered crops . Corn is the US,s number one crop and guess what its exported to this country as -sweetcorn made by ——- also corn syrup etc its also being used to make ethanol . it uses a form of Gene Silencing and while its okay for petunias as it makes a pigment in a flower so that bees are attracted they dont know the long term effects on humans but could end up in our own bodies and cause gene altering effects . All this has not been proved because no test were done but think on Brexit= US Trade Agreement = Monsanto “food ” . I threw out a very popular brand of Sweetcorn because it upset my wife although she loved it and had eaten it for decades , I put it out for the birds they refused to take it , even though ring-neck doves/ wood pigeons -etc had been eating it for years as well on the leftovers , it was 2 weeks before it disappeared. Who do I trust between the Birds and Monsanto ?- the BIRDS !


That’s not exactly news, Duncan:


Of greater concern is the use of Roundup, which has now been banned in two US states because of concerns over its use of carcinogenic compounds. But yes; never happy about recombinant DNA processes, simply because we have no idea about the very long term effects.


You mean its only a few weeks out of date and your link paints a bright picture of it while my post, after the US organisation I am in contact with, spent those few weeks checking into it to present their not so bright future Ian . Your news isn’t shocking , mine is. Unless you are going to deny there will be any adverse long term effects , on behalf of Monsanto, while knowing they never spent years doing tests on it in regards to HUMAN adverse reaction or even a year , how about 6 months ? By the way German company Beyer bought out Monsanto and Beyer was an off-shoot of IG Farben for $66 billion –I am sure they just missed out a 6 in that figure.


Duncan: please read the final sentence in my post above. For convenience, it was never happy about recombinant DNA processes, simply because we have no idea about the very long term effects..

Tinkering with any aspect of DNA is fraught with all sorts of dangers, simply because we have absolutely no idea of the very long term consequences. Life adapts; that’s what it does and it’s entirely possible that an organism could undergo changes that were not anticipated.

And I don’t think the paper I linked to presented a ‘bright future’; far from it.

angur miah says:
13 July 2017

this is all good advice but what do you do if the seller does not comply. the seller ignores your emails and calls. how do you take action against after so many emails and phone calls


To answer your post could you be more informative Angur ? Where did you buy-online-shop and if online what website and was it a private seller on Ebay ?

Oliver says:
25 July 2017

EVGA have stated they will not reimburse me my postage cost for the return of a faulty item.

I proved it was faulty and they replaced the item for me.

However they keep bashing me with the comment of ‘the cost of the return is covered by the customer’

For starters I had already paid for what should be an in perfect working condition PSU for my first build PC.

Secondly it then cost me even more money after the purchase to return it as it was faulty.

How is this fair?

I really don’t know where to go with this.


Oliver-Did you buy it from EVGA direct and not through Amazon etc ? If you had bought it through a good UK PC builder like Chillblast/Overclockers they guarantee a FULL refund if – fitted and found not working BUT if it was damaged by a fault in your computer then charges are raised . Overclockers for example give you 30 days otherwise you start to pay postal charges . If it was via Amazon you would probably pay for shipping. Just checked Chillblast , under their 30 day returns WILL refund you shipping charges I had a look at their T+C,s , its their company I bought my initial PC from many years ago and still going strong – British company -London address /based /UK manufactured ( assembled ) .


The Consumer Rights Act deals with redress for faulty goods. As far as I recall if you buy in a shop then you are responsible for returning a faulty item to the shop. If you buy remotely then the vendor is responsible for the return delivery cost, unless they specifically state before you complete your purchase that you will be liable to pay any return delivery cost.


The Consumer Rights Act refers to the responsibility of a retailer to cover the cost of return postage, see: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/contents/enacted

I have seen terms and conditions that state that the purchaser must bear the cost of return of goods and presume that this relates to claims under the manufacturer’s guarantee. I presume that a retailer would be breaking the law by failing to refund postage costs for claims under the Consumer Rights Act. Maybe Which? could advise.


Well they better check the guarantee period of those companies as , in the case of computer parts once it is outside the “return for free ” period it it also incurs percentage loss on the use that it already has been to the customer-IE – 6 months use would drop the return price offered as well as losing free postage and yes Wavechange I read the T+C from end to end . The problem is that because it is only part of a whole it is open to speculation as to other causes of failure involving problems with the hardware or motherboard and this would be argued in law just as much as a car part failure could be attributed to other faults in the car. This ,basically is what applies to parts and not whole units which are deemed to be brand new overall.


This is my world and I can see both sides here. I buy stuff online too as well as sell.

As a business selling very specialised items often to specific order the view is that the onus is on the buyer to ensure what they are buying is correct and suitable. If they do not or do not check then I’m afraid that as a business, much as customers would expect, the business will not pay for other’s errors. That means in effect that postage out which is a direct cost that is non-refundable and any return costs are down to the buyer as, it was their error, not the company’s.

If we mess it up, of course it’s completely on us and we pick up the tab as it’s not the buyer’s fault. And, we’ll move heaven and earth to fix anything we mess up as best possible and within reason.

All that’s fine and as a buyer or seller I have no truck with that as a policy.

But why should the business be expected to pay for user error?

Flip that around the other way and I would completely agree that buyers should be provided with the goods and services as requested and, if not then it’s on the seller to fix it.

It has to be fair to all.

Where it gets a bit “grey” is a warranty claim.

First and foremost, it’s a claim of failure, not a full blown slam dunk failure in many instances so, the cause has to be established etc.

Let me give you an example to illustrate.

A well known purveyor of vacuum cleaners got to thinking that they had a lot of motors returned as “faulty” on delivery/installation as a spare part.

Eventually some bright spark decided to investigate why this was.

It was found that over 90% returned were not the new motors supplied that had failed at all but it was old motors returned to get a full refund which, stupidly by the company in question, were refunded in full to buyers. Until they found this and the post on a forum that told people they could get away with this nice little scam.

A scam by normal people, not your traditional view of what a scammer, rip off artist or whatever might be.

Net result, policies in place to prevent this in future and a 140%-ish price hike. So everyone pays because some people were greedy and took advantage of a flaw in the system.

Whoo hoo, go them eh?

So any company that has any sense will have measures in place to try to prevent such things and that is not, in my view, even remotely unreasonable as it not only protects the company as some may allude but it also protects customers just as much.

Being reasonable and protecting all parties is what the law is all about, it is not one-sided as both parties can lose.



Wave is right: faulty or broken (synonymous, I suppose) and the retailer bears the cost of return. Buyer error and the buyer does. And that’s fair, in my view.


Ken – Oliver, who started this thread, refers specifically to faulty goods.

Regarding return of goods for refund, I think it would be fair for companies to make a restocking charge (many online suppliers do), even where the goods are bought from a shop. I have seen examples of goods that have obviously been used offered for sale. Obviously the laws on distance and online selling have to be complied with.

I have no problem with shops charging a restocking fee for unused goods. Hopefully this will put most people off buying several products and returning the unwanted ones. Equally, I would like to see restocked goods checked to ensure that they are undamaged and all parts are present. I was once caught out by buying a product and finding out that one part had been removed and the packet carefully resealed.

Over the years I have seen examples of people who have taken goods back for replacement after they have knowingly damaged them. That’s fraud and honest people contribute to the cost, just like they pay for the actions of shoplifters. I would expect the manufacturers of vacuum cleaner motors to devise an effective way of making it obvious if they have been used. A sealed plastic bag is the simplest of many options.


That happened quite a bit with places like Argos. On three occasions we bought something from Argos, only to discover they had clearly been used and one part was missing. The bigger danger is that smaller retailers may well shy away from becoming involved at all when this sort of thing happens, so we’re left to the mercy of the mega-corporations.


It would be very interesting to discuss our views on what is fair to consumers and companies. On Which? Conversation we generally look at this almost exclusively from the consumers’ point of view. A Convo about the outcomes of Brexit might not be the right place.


Yes but it is far from unusual for a “fault” to be claimed when there isn’t one to try to justify an FOC return.

Not even slightly uncommon.

People will try all manners of stuff to end up where they want to be and get what outcome they want.

What really makes us laugh at times is the effort people will go to in order argue the toss to save a few quid on a return yet put zero effort into researching what they bought in the first instance.

It’s just insane.

The point however is that, often times what you see claimed, reading reviews and such can deviate from the truth of the matter.



I accept what you are saying Ken. I’ve spoken to service engineers and others in business.


Return of goods ordered online, by telephone or by mail order:
The retailer’s terms and conditions should say who pays for returning goods. If they don’t, then the retailer has to pay, not the customer. Retailers may also set out the way they want goods to be returned, but this cannot be unreasonably expensive or difficult.In the case of faulty goods being returned because they are not fit for purpose, do not match their description, or are not of a satisfactory quality, the customer is entitled to claim the cost of postage from you or to request that you arrange collection of the item.

Eric Murphy says:
14 August 2017

Sainsbury’s have told me it is their policy that I contact the manufacturer if an item develops a fault after a year.
They refuse to consider any replacement without a receipt and are unable to trace my purchase because “the store has to clear their transactions every 6 months in order to make room in their database.”

They seem unable to find my purchase using information from their loyalty card scheme.

They also stated “You also need to have an engineer’s report that is fully VAT registered to show that it is a problem caused by the manufacturer. ”

All this for a bluetooth speaker available for under £30

Sandra clover says:
17 September 2017

I have just had exactly the same problem with a coffee machine from Sainsbury’s that cost £40 and they refuse to do anything and have told me to contact the manufacturer – appalling customer service. No recept no refund or replacement despite all being logged on the Loyalty card. However. I think that I have lodged guarantee with the manufacturer which may give me a remedy.

cece says:
30 October 2017

What are my consumer rights if I purchased a leather settee in July, waited until October for it to be delivered and complained about the mechanism within 20 days? The retailer say it’s not faulty, but it’s not fit for purpose, so I believe that it is faulty.

J clark says:
6 December 2017

River island manager refused point blank to exchange a dress that was coming away at back she more or less said someone had cut it

Michele says:
15 December 2017

My ring was purchased from Ernest Jones in Dundee as a birthday present in March 2016 I wore this ring once and the stone came out took it back to the Jewellers they sent it away to Michael Kors to be replaced I thought but it was repaired, I was told that this now had another years warranty should anything happen to it, well it did and they now tell me that the ring cant be repaired as they no longer have the stones to fix it, but I am only been allowed a 30% discount if I wish to buy something else to replace the ring with. I said but the ring is still under warranty I should get a full refund they say no because it goes back to the original purchase receipt. This cant be right. The ring has only been worn twice and twice it has had to go back as the stones came out of it….I have cheap rings from Primark that have lasted longer and are still going strong after many a night out. I am a very good customer to this Jewellers and so are members of my family, we will not be buying anything from this store again.


Hi Michele – I suggest that you push for a replacement or a refund of most of the cost. Your rights are under the Consumer Rights Act, 2015 and you will find useful advice and template letters on the Which? website. It might be worth printing a copy of this guide, highlighting the most relevant information and giving it to Ernest Jones: https://www.businesscompanion.info/sites/default/files/The%20sale%20and%20supply%20of%20goods_ALL_BIS_GOODS_GUIDANCE_SEP15.pdf As pointed out in Example 31 a refund should reflect the amount of use you have had out of goods and not their secondhand value. If the valuable stone has been lost that would reflect the refund you could expect.

Best of luck.


Have a look at the terms of the warranty. This should spell out what the company proposes in the event of a fault. a warranty/guarantee is legally binding.

However, if this does not give a satisfactory solution, you can choose to use the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act, as wavechange says. If you have had a repair that proves unsatisfactory you can choose (not the retailer) to have a further repair if that is possible or, if not, choose a replacement or a refund (“that may be partial”). Partial relates to use you have had from the product. Since jewelry should last forever I would imagine any use would be regarded as minimal. I’d push for a replacement to the original value, or a very substantial refund. 30% discount simply reflect a part of the normal profit margin, so they are doing you no favours.

The chart on P38 of the above document explains your options very well.


We bought and paid for a Samsung fridge freezer from John Lewis at the end of November. The product was delivered a few days later, neither the fridge or the freezer cooled down and so it didn’t work, we contacted John Lewis. They said a Samsung engineer had to come and look at it before we could have it returned so the engineer came out around eight days later. The engineer confirmed it didn’t work as expected, this was on 12th December. J

ohn Lewis then said that they were unable to provide a replacement guaranteed in time for Christmas and could not have the faulty fridge freezer collected until after the new year. We have been contacted by the courier to say they will collect the item on 4th January. John Lewis still have our money for the fridge freezer and will not refund us until the item has been collected and returned to wherever it came from. We have offered to return it ourselves to a store but were told that we should not do this.

I have contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau and they said that a refund should be made after 14 days of the seller knowing that the product is faulty – they also said to try and do a chargeback through our bank as we paid by debit card online. The bank say they can’t do this until after 30 days have passed and also they say that the seller has already said they would collect the fridge on the 4th Jan. I just feel like John Lewis have had our money for over a month now and we are stuck with a big faulty product with nothing that we can do. Any ideas?


CAB are incorrect. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says “4. Rules for Paying Refunds
Whenever you
i.e. the retailer) provide a refund you must do so without undue delay and in any case within 14 days, beginning on the day that you agree the consumer is entitled to the refund. This means that the clock only starts ticking after you have had an opportunity to assess the issue and confirm that the consumer’s complaint is valid, provided you do not delay unreasonably.

It seems very straightforward that your product was faulty. John Lewis or Samsung should have talked you through operating it straight away – for example, checking the supply to the appliance worked, checking the fuse in the plug, checking if the interior light came on. It is unreasonable to be made to wait 8 days for this to be looked at by an engineer.

As your appliance is about to be collected I suggest you write to/email the John Lewis CEO, with a copy to the store involved, complaining about the appalling treatment. They may supply a working version of the product you need at a substantial discount. Have you checked online for whether you could buy at a better price anyway? ao.com for example.

DaiWal says:
31 December 2017

Purchased a Soundbar from AO which is faulty. Requested a refund and they said it has to be inspected by an engineer via Sony.

I thought they would send an engineer to my home to inspect the item but Oh No they want me to take the soundbar to the engineer which is 28 miles from where I live. This will require me to carry a 24 inch square box weighing 8kg on 4 buses to get to the engineer.

Absolutely diabolical customer service and constant passing of the buck by AO.


DaiWal, AO cannot just give refunds to anyone who claims their product is faulty. If they did, they would soon go out of business.

What they are asking you to do is clearly an impossible inconvenience for you and maybe you could help them with an alternative.

How is the product faulty? Is it damaged? If so, you could send them photos. Is the sound faulty? If so, could you send them a recording?

The main thing is to be polite. Yes, this is distressing for you, but it is not the fault of the person you might speak to at the other end of a phone and they are more likely to be helpful if you are pleasant to them. Asking to speak to a manager can sometimes bring results.

Good luck.


I endorse Alfa’s comment. What I could also suggest is that if they insist on the item being returned for inspection, tell them you’ll send it via the same delivery service they used to deliver it to you, and that they should pay. Under the legislation they do have to pay for return postage if the item is found to be faulty.

But as Alfa says, whatever you do, stay calm and polite.


DaiWal, as far as I can see it is up to the customer to show the sound bar is faulty. Alfa gives some means to do that and a reasonable retailer should not make the process any more difficult if the fault seems obvious. However, they are entitled to have an “expert” check what might be the fault before they refund or exchange. I would suggest that you point out they will need to pay your expenses if they ask you to travel 28 miles and if the item still proves to be faulty. so take a taxi once this is agreed. Alternatively you could see if a local shop would check it over and provide a brief report, or even see if they would accept a neighbour’s assessment if the fault does not require expert help.


Yes, it is necessary to have an expert test [in case there is some interference caused by the TV set, for example] but on-line retailers ought to do better than this. Making replacements and refunds difficult is one of the ways they can achieve lower prices compared with a ‘bricks-&-mortar’ store.

And I note a journey to the engineer will be a round trip of 56 miles so likely to cost around £60-70 in a pre-booked cab [plus waiting time].

Presumably you were not in time to reject the soundbar within fourteen days of receipt. No retailer can argue with that because under distance-selling rules the customer has the right to return any item without proof of a fault.

A recent Which? Magazine had an item on AO pushing hard [and aggressively] to sell extended warranties immediately after customers purchased products as part of their administration of the delivery schedule. Not the best company to deal with in my opinion.


I always question the word “expert ” how many ” experts ” are proved to be wrong later I say I am an “expert “because I no nothing about anything at all “EXPERTS”??

Lisa says:
8 January 2018

Hi, i bought some hair straightners as a christmas gift for my niece from littlewoods online, they were on promotion. After christmas they went back up to full price but i need to return them as they have developed a fault. I dont want a refund i want another set but will i have to pay the difference or will it be a straight swap ??


Within the first 30 days you can reject faulty goods for a refund However, you have the option of requesting a replacement. The price paid should not enter into it.

Jacqueline Smith says:
12 January 2018

Hi I bought a vax standup hoover from Tesco in October 2017 very disappointed I got it as I’ve got oak floors all in my house after 8 weeks it’s no