/ Home & Energy

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

Brexit

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.

Comments
Profile photo of Ian
Member

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.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

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.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

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

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

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.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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

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

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

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!

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of Ian
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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.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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?

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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.

Member
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.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Member
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

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

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 ?

Member
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 .

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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.

Member
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.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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

Member
Andrew Rylah says:
14 May 2017

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

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

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.!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

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.

Member
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.

Profile photo of NFH
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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.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

How I voted is irrelevant to this Convo.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

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

Member
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.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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?

Member
Ian says:
23 June 2017

NO Brexit is better than a Bad Brexit.

Member
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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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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 !

Profile photo of Ian
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That’s not exactly news, Duncan:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/monsanto-rna-interference/531288/

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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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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.

Profile photo of Ian
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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.

Member
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

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

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 ?

Member
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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

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 ) .

Profile photo of malcolm r
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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.

Profile photo of wavechange
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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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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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.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
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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.

K.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

K.

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

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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.

Member
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