/ Home & Energy

Brief cases: refund for hob fitting failure

We helped a member get a refund after she was left out of pocket when Currys PC World failed to install her new hob. Have you had a similar experience?

Which? Legal member Barbara bought a new Zanussi gas job from Currys PC World for £264, which included the cost of fitting.

On delivery, the fitters refused to install the hob because the wiring wasn’t suitable. They told Barbara that she would have to pay for her own electrician to make some changes before they could fit it.

But the fitters failed to complete the paperwork, so Barbara couldn’t pass on suitable instructions to her electrician.

The electrician was as helpful as he could be, advising her to take before-and-after pictures of the sockets.

After this, new fitters from Currys PC World arrived and stated that the old sockets should have been fine, meaning the extra work was completely unnecessary.

Left out of pocket

Barbara was left £78 out of pocket as a result. We told her that she was entitled to claim this back from Currys PC World, and explained that her contract with it was governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Under this law, Currys PC World, or any of its sub-contractors, should have supplied the service with reasonable care and skill.

The original fitters failed to do this by not looking at the other sockets in the cupboards on either side of the cooker.

After three months, Barbara received £150 to compensate her for the fitting costs and inconvenience caused.

Additional losses: the law

If a competent professional should have been able to complete the installation on the first try, then Currys PC World would be in breach of contract, as it failed to carry out its service with reasonable care and skill.

If a consumer is given false information that results in an additional loss, they’re entitled to claim this back from the trader under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

A Currys PC World spokesperson said:

“We’re very sorry about Ms Littlewood’s experience. To help make things right, we refunded her costs and offered an additional £50”

Have you ever had a similar experience with fitters/sub-contractors? If so, how was the situation handled? Did you manage to get a refund?

Comments

These are the topics which I suspect many find the most useful of all. Almost all the queries posted in W? Cs concern legalities, and as far as I’m aware none of us is a lawyer. It would be extremely helpful if we could have more of these topics with examples covering a wide range of circumstances.

Thanks to W? Legal for the topic.

We did, in fact, have a similar situation with a kitchen fitting company. It was a major installation: complete removal and disposal of old kitchen, fit of brand new and good sized new kitchen.

They agreed to start on a given date in October; the date was important as we’d booked a holiday for two weeks after installation. Two days prior to the expected arrival of the fitter I received a call from a company to tell us the fitter had hurt his hand and wouldn’t be able to start on the date agreed.

Now, this is where things became interesting. Our contract to supply and fit the kitchen was with company A. However, company A subcontracted the fitting to Company B. Company B, meanwhile, in turn subcontracted the actual work to company C. It was the company C person whose hand was the issue and it was Company B who was making the call.

Based on a lot of experience with W? legal services and almost 50 years of reading W?, I remained icily calm and simply explained that Breach of Contract was quite a serious matter and asked the caller from company B which replacement company they would be sending along. Following a lengthy pause, in a slightly unsteady voice company B rep told us they’d try to find another company.

After an hour, the ‘phone rang again and the company B rep explained that they weren’t able to find another team. Still remaining glacially calm I then asked her what she proposed. She did seem to be near to tears, and eventually offered to do any extra electrical work that might be necessary for nothing (we’d anticipated around £500 for that). She was also able to get Company C to do the job the following week.

Stressing the criticality of the revised date I agreed to a schedule change (I considered finding my own fitter but with only two days to the promised date that seemed infeasible), accepted the promise of the free electrical work and explained I’d also be contacting company A.

I then contacted company A, explained what had happened, stressed the breach of contract aspect and asked them to suggest reasonable compensation. I was passed up to the person i./c kitchens, who asked me what I expected. I responded that I expected them to make an offer; it wasn’t for me to take the first step.

They went away, consulted and came back with a 10% reduction on the entire kitchen cost as an offer, That I accepted and Company C arrived, three days later.

It took more than two weeks to fit the entire kitchen, and the fitters had to return after we came back from holiday. But we got an excellent job, were better off by roughly £1500 as a consequence of them having to vary the contract and everyone was happy. I think.

This case came up in the August issue of Which? and it’s always good to see how Which? members receive compensation when treated unfairly.

Going on from what Ian has said, I would like to see Which? Legal report on one or more cases of customers wrongly being told that they must deal with the manufacturer if they have have a problem with faulty goods. Currys does this regularly.

Thanks for the feedback both, I’m glad you find these useful, as do I.

We do our best to cover positive outcomes like this where we can but, as you can imagine, it’s not always appropriate to publish every case in which legal advice has been given – some cases can be more sensitive than others and consent will need to be given by the member, so it’s not always straightforward.

Wavechange – well aware of the ‘deal with the manufacturer’ issues from Currys PC World as this happened to me quite recently. Fortunately I took @afrench with me in anticipation of complications – they told us it was policy to put us through to the manufacturer. We were in there arguing for about 2 hours in all.

Do you know if Currys still puts their receipts in a leaflet that states something like ‘we may refer you to the manufacturer who is in the best position to deal with problems’? My understanding is that this does not comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, though it would be good advice for anyone who needs advice – for example on how to tune a new TV.

Having Adam around to offer legal advice seems like a good perk of the job, George. Mine was the opportunity to work unlimited and unpaid overtime.

I don’t, but if there are examples of that receipt out there then I’d definitely like to see them.

Ha, it is definitely a useful perk, but of course no one should have to take a consumer rights expert with them to ensure they’re treated fairly (and indeed, according to the law!). It’s a problem we’re very much aware of.

Depending upon the problem I think the suggestion to initially contact the manufacturer may well be good. They are probably in a better position to give you, say, technical help than the sales assistants at Currys, and may provide the information or assistance to resolve the problem with you . It is if an appropriate referral does not resolve a problem, or if it is clearly an (alleged) fault with the product, contravening the contract conditions in the CRA 2015, that Currys need to take responsibility as the contract provider and not palm you off to the manufacturer.

Failure of a retailer to honour the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is something I believe Which? should keep tabs on, and take action when it appears to mislead customers. We should seek to have deterrent penalties applied so a retailer will find it not worthwhile to pursue this policy, nor not to train their staff correctly.

@gmartin I think you missed me shouting at my computer last week as Three were doing exactly this to me over my faulty phone!

Maybe I should get @afrench to come with me to the Three shop! 😀

It was about 20 years ago when Currys insisted that I contact the manufacturer when my vacuum cleaner developed two faults within months of purchase. At the time I did not have time to visit the shop. The manufacturer sent spare parts without seeing the faulty parts, so maybe they were aware of a problem.

Nowadays I take faulty goods back to the shop, accompanied by my contact information and details of the problem. I take my receipt as evidence of purchase plus a photocopy that they can retain if they wish.

I hoped that Which? would help put an end to this problem years ago and maybe push for retailers to outline consumers’ rights on their websites and in store – either in a leaflet or on a notice.

I’ve posted this in the Newsroom but perhaps it should also fit here?
https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/hidden-faults-affecting-some-of-britains-most-popular-cars-revealed-by-which-research/

This research, if robust, seems to exemplify the need to support claims under the “durability” clause of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Sale of Goods Act, its predecessor. The usual criticism of applying a “durability” claim is the lack of evidence to show what a reasonable fault fee life should be. Well, the following example is typical of Which?’s findings and seems to me to demonstrate quite clearly that the battery is not durable. In that case, if it happens outside warranty, a consumer rights claim should be pursued. The evidence is there to support it.
”Nissan’s Qashqai (2014-) model, one of the best-selling cars in the UK, had the highest breakdown rate of all cars surveyed, with a fifth (20%) of owners needing to replace their battery in the last year – four to five times the average rate for cars of the same age.

Similar cases are revealed for Tesla door handles, locks, fuel caps and boot; Seat Alhambra exhaust; Ford B-Max automatic transmission; BMW 5 series suspension. These exceptional failures to the norm seem exactly the kind of data that we – and the courts – need, to pursue durability claims.

It would be appropriate if, as well as looking at cars in this way (” survey of nearly 44,000 members of the public covering more than 52,000 cars”, Which? also applied this effort to owners of major domestic appliances (as a start).

It is of little use just publishing this information, however. It needs to be made use of. So, will Which? promote the concept of “durability”, back it with more data and support durability claims based on their research findings?