/ Home & Energy

Brief cases: faulty washing machine claim settled in full

washing-machines-on-beach

All too often retailers refuse to help when products develop a fault – like this case of a faulty Bosch washing machine from John Lewis. So, what do you do when you feel like you’re being fobbed off?

Which? Legal member Ernest James bought a washing machine from John Lewis in September 2014. Just 18 months later, in March 2016, it developed a fault: the door wouldn’t open, and it only restarted if he unplugged it and waited about 30 minutes.

In November 2016, Ernest spoke to a John Lewis after-sales representative, who said he would have to pay for a Bosch representative to inspect the machine at his home, and possibly for a new part (costing several hundred pounds).

John Lewis refused to give a refund, repair or replacement for the faulty washing machine, so Ernest turned to Which? Legal for advice.

Our advice

We explained that under consumer law, John Lewis itself would have to pay for the repairs to the machine. We helped Ernest prepare to take his claim to the small claims court in February 2017. John Lewis instructed solicitors and prepared a defence.

In May, a Bosch engineer inspected the machine and concluded that there was a fault with the door lock and power module. In August, John Lewis paid for Bosch to repair the machine, and then in September, the solicitors agreed to pay Ernest a sum of several hundred pounds in full and final settlement to cover his claim.

The law

Consumer contracts are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for those on or after 1 October 2015), or the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for those before then). These make it an implied term that the goods will be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match their description.

Here, there was a breach of the term ‘satisfactory quality’. You have the right to request a repair or replacement from the seller, which it must give you within a reasonable time, without causing significant inconvenience to you, and bearing any costs itself.

You can enforce this right for up to six years (five in Scotland) from the date of the breach, regardless of whether you have a warranty. It is also an offence to give consumers misleading information about their legal rights.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of Which? magazine.

Have you ever been fobbed off by a retailer when it comes to a faulty product? What approach did you take, and did you manage to resolve the problem without being out of pocket yourself?

Comments
Member

Can I ask whether any of the settlement from John Lewis included a non-disclosure requirement?

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
25 February 2018

I assume you have a vested interest CC. Given it is now in the public domain one thinks not. However non-disclosure agreements is an area which Which? could usefully investigate as it is generally not in the general interest. For instance the use by NHBC “against” homebuyers.

Member

I hope this action against John Lewis has had a corrective effect on the Partnership.
Do we know if that is the case?

Member

It is good to point out the difference between the interpretation of the Scottish courts and those in the rest of the UK, however, so far as I am aware, this is not necessarily detrimental to Scottish consumers’ rights.

Whereas the Intro correctly states that “You can enforce this right for up to six years (five in Scotland) from the date of the breach . . . , I believe under Scottish law it is the date when the applicant to the Court first became aware of the breach that is the time from when the clock starts ticketing for calculating the period in which the action must commence. I could be wrong on this so a legal opinion would be useful.

Member

I’ve reversed this seemingly pointless thumbs down. Why not post your objection. whoever applied it, so we understand what the disagreement was? Then we might learn something. 🙁

Member

The person probably objected to my use of the word “ticketing” [instead of “ticking”] which I had failed to spot during the editing opportunity, in which case a thumbs down was a well-deserved reprimand. But thank you, Malcolm, for normalising the situation.

Member

It would be useful if Which? gave more detail on this. In Oct 2013 “ The retailer (JL) announced today that it will become the first high street retailer to offer a minimum two-year extended warranty on all home electrical products at no extra cost.
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2013/10/john-lewis-to-offer-two-year-electricals-guarantee-335991/ – Which?”

Assuming the washing machine had a 2 year warranty why wait from March to November before informing John Lewis – after the guarantee had expired?

It seems not unreasonable then to have the machine inspected to see who was at fault – was it a machine problem or a case of misuse or abuse. That should settle responsibility. The cost should then be borne by the “guilty” party. If this showed the machine to be at fault I would have thought this was then a clear case of unreasonable “durability” under the contract requirements of the Sale of Goods Act.

I wonder why this case became so involved legally? Perhaps Which? could explain.

I had a problem out of warranty with a fridge freezer purchased from John Lewis. I approached them, pointed out the problem and accepted that a paid-for inspection by the manufacturer was reasonable to determine the fault, and whether it was repairable. It was not. I then courteously spoke to a manager pointed to lack of durability under SoGA, and between JL and the manufacturer had a free replacement appliance delivered in 2 days with an extended warranty and the inspection charge refunded.

Do we need better educating in our consumer rights? It should not generally be necessary to go to court.

Member

The intro goes on to say “In August, John Lewis paid for Bosch to repair the machine, and then in September, the solicitors agreed to pay Ernest a sum of several hundred pounds in full and final settlement to cover his claim.“. Was this payment for costs incurred or were damages awarded? It seems curious that this case became so involved. I wonder why?

Member

@patrick, is there more the Legal Team can tell us to explain the award?

Member

Hi Malcolm! Just to let you know, I am speaking to Which? Legal about this and hoping to get a response shortly. Unfortunately, the person who wrote this Convo and dealt with this case has now left Which? (not great timing 🙁 ) So Joe from W? Legal is currently looking for some more information on this case which will help him answer your question.

Member

@awhittle, Thanks Alex.

Member

Hi Malcolm, sorry for the delayed response!

We can’t answer specifically in relation to this case due to confidentiality but W? Legal have kindly provided a clarification on the main point of your question.

What should always be kept in mind is that court action should be reserved as a last resort, and the parties to a dispute should be able to show that they haven’t acted unreasonably. One thing that the court will look for is any attempt to settle the claim without a hearing, and if an attempt to settle was unreasonably rejected by the other party.

Usually in small claims track claims (for disputes involving goods and services this is generally claims of below £10,000 in England/Wales) the winner of the claim is not able to recover costs for a lawyer, only the court cost. However, where the court feels a party has broken court rules or acted unreasonably it has the power to impose penalties, usually this will be by awarding the other party their costs. It is possible that even if you win a claim, you could be ordered to pay the other party’s costs. It is therefore vital to ensure that the correct procedures are followed and the court rules are observed.

Damages is the technical term used to define a monetary award made by a court, and where an agreement between disputing parties is reached before a court hearing, then the agreement will be known as a settlement. As the article above states, the offer to Mr James was a settlement as it was not awarded to him by the court.

We wouldn’t be able to provide a specific breakdown of what the settlement was for in this case, however in general, if a claim has been started in the County Court then the claimant would expect to receive the amount claimed, plus the cost of issuing the claim if successful.

Member

@awhittle, thanks Alex for pursuing this. I just wonder why the details of the settlement are confidential when so much of this case has been made public. But thanks for the information. 🙂

Member
Paul Moore says:
25 February 2018

Sued Currys for faulty washing matcine too. Made them pay consequential losses as well.

Member
MJ Hawkins says:
13 June 2018

I purchased a Macbook Pro from John Lewis in 2015, I kept it in pristine condition (it has been inspected by Apple who have confirmed this) and it was only used a few times each month for internet and typing on Word, but it suffered a logic board failure after just two and a half years and now will not work (or even turn on), I approached John Lewis about a repair or refund under the Sale of Goods Act (as I did not consider the product to be of a satisfactory quality or have lasted for a reasonable time) and was told that the Act didn’t apply as the item could be repaired. I subsequently spoke to the Advice Line for Trading Standards who have disagreed and said it should be covered under the Sale of Goods Act and I was entitled to a repair of my product or a replacement.

Despite my advising them of this, John Lewis still continue to decline to repair/replace the Macbook Pro as they say the Sale of Goods Act does not apply as it has lasted as it can still be repaired and will then work again.

Suffice to say, if a Macbook Pro which only lasts for two and a half years and then needs a major repair costing over £400 is their idea of “satisfactory quality” I won’t be buying any products from John Lewis in the near future.

I will be taking the matter of the Macbook Pro further too.

Member

I don’t understand John Lewis’s response. The Sale of Goods Act does apply and gives you the right to claim for up to 6 years. This would entitle you to have the item repaired or replaced (at your choice, unless one is disproportionate to the other) providing you can show there was a fault present when new or that the device did not have reasonable durability (did not last a reasonable length of time). I’d suggest the latter as it suffered a component failure after an unreasonable time. John Lewis are responsible legally to deal with this and should be reprimanded for giving you wrong information. Denying your rights under SoGA is an offence.

I’d pursue JL as your contract is with them. Failing a satisfactory response locally I would contact JL head office (their CEO would be a good start and the email address can be found on CEOemail.com). If that gets nowhere then I would report them to Trading Standards (and advise JL accordingly) and contact Apple to see if they would help.

Member
DerekP says:
13 June 2018

Sorry to hear of your bad luck with that rotten Apple.

In my experience, a properly cared-for professional quality laptop can be good for 10 years of service (or more), not least as evidenced by my Dell D430 and my Lenovo X201, though the latter might be only about 7 years old. (I’m not the original owner of either of them… but their combined cost of £120 (to me) was clearly money well spent. I bet their first owners had to pay rather more than that…)

Member

MJ Hawkins – I’m sorry to hear about your experience with John Lewis. Buying from JL rather than direct from Apple provides a two year guarantee rather then one and usually a small saving in purchase price. On the other hand, Apple can be generous to their customers if something goes wrong, even if they have not purchased an AppleCare warranty. Apple provided a free repair for my MBP after 3.5 years, replacing both the logic board and the display.

The Sale of Goods Act and (from Oct. 2015) the Consumer Rights Act give you statutory rights against John Lewis, the retailer. Assuming that there is no evidence of misuse (JL is entitled to check this) you could expect either a free repair, a refurbished computer or a partial refund, taking into account the age of the computer. It would be unreasonable to expect a new replacement. Please let us know how you get on with JL and do mention that they are breaking the law, as Malcolm says, if they don’t even consider a claim under your statutory rights.

If you do buy Apple products in the future it might be worth buying direct.

Member
Martin Newton says:
16 July 2018

I too have a problem with John Lewis, I purchased an apple MacBook air in November 2015. in March 2018 it would not start up and I took it to the apple store who diagnosed that the main logic board had failed and the repair would be £479. They advised me to take it back to JL and claim under the consumer rights act 2015. In the store I was advised by a very arrogant young staff member who argued with me telling me I had no rights to claim under the act and that he knew better than me as he had a law degree!
After being passed to a manager I agreed for the laptop to be sent to JL’s repairer to be assessed, my understanding was the assessment was to find out if the computer had an inherent fault that caused it to fail. When the laptop came back to store all they had done was confirm the logic board was faulty and reaffirmed I was not entitled to claim but as a good will gesture they would reduce the repair cost by £100.
I did not accept this and informed them I was going to pursue my claim and that if they had misinformed me of my legal rights the staff member may have committed a criminal offence and I took his name.
Further to this I called the customer services at JL and was once again fobbed off. Several e-mails back and forth over the last few days and JL are still sticking to there stance of telling me I have no claim.

The apple store have given me a diagnosis report that states that the laptop is in good condition and the logic board failure has not been caused by misuse by me. JL say this does not prove an inherent fault.

I have told them that I am claiming under the durability clause but they just keep telling me to prove the computer had an inherent fault. My latest e-mail to them informed them that I was intending to take legal action if the issue is not sorted in the next 14 days.They replied once again telling me to prove an inherent fault or they would not consider my claim.
Any advice would me much appreciated
I

Member

Martin – If you have evidence from emails that JL is denying your statutory rights you could take the case to the small claims court. If you don’t want to go to court then I would push for a free repair or an exchange, otherwise the best you could achieve is a partial refund or a discount on a new computer.

Apple was right to refer you to JL to pursue a claim under the Consumer Rights Act and they even have information about customers’ rights on their website, something that should be standard.

A few years ago I phoned Apple about a faulty MacBook Pro, went through a range of diagnostic tests and since these did not establish the fault I was asked to go to an Apple Store. I was quoted over £800 to repair the three and a half year old laptop for which I had no AppleCare cover, but the job was done free of charge. I had bought the computer direct from Apple rather than a separate retailer. JL might be a little cheaper for Apple products and offer an extra year’s warranty but I’ve decided to carry on buying direct.

Some years ago, Which? used actors posing as customers with goods that had failed outside the guarantee period. Major retailers including JL performed poorly and it was not much better when the exercise was repeated a year later. Which? could have used real people with real faulty goods and help them take the companies involved to court. Having the story covered in the press would have boosted the reputation of Which? as our consumers’ champion.

Please let us know the outcome, Martin.

Member

I think you should continue to assert your rights under the durability clause in the Consumer Rights Act. I would say you have a reasonable claim as the logic board is an essential and fundamental component of the product the failure of which renders it useless. This should not have failed within two years and four months under normal use and with no damage or abuse. I would recommend you to write to the Chief Executive at the head office giving all the information you have provided here but in the form of a letter, not an e-mail, as it will receive better attention in my view.

Despite John Lewis’s reputation and ranking as one of the UK’s foremost retailers there are a disturbing number of examples of poor after-sales service reported here, especially in the technology departments. This is not good for John Lewis’s image and I am surprised they don’t get a grip on it. Their errors in understanding the CRA are inexcusable for a company that trades on its integrity and fairness. I hope you get suitable redress from your claim. I also hope any lessons are passed down the chain to the shop floor.

Member

I’d pursue JL under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – you can find the complete act online – and use the “durability” clause as John Recommends. I’d copy it to the CEO of JLP (you can find details on CEOemail,com) and to Apple. Anyone who considers an expensive MacBook should not last longer than 2.5 years needs challenging. You deserve, at least, a substantial contribution towards a repair, or a replacement.

Sorry to duplicate your comments John but it is high time we got to grips with delinquent retailers who attempt to deny consumers their legal rights, something that is against the law and should be prosecuted.

Why do Which? not tackle this problem on behalf of consumers?

Member

That’s OK, Malcolm – at least we’re both singing from the same songsheet. I realised too late that I had posted my comment as a new subject instead of as a reply. I continue to find the indents and initial placement of replies tricky.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
16 July 2018

Failing logic boards seems to be cropping up as an inherent Apple failure. On the basis that there have been more than the two reports here ….

Looking around this is interesting:
forums.macrumors.com/threads/logic-board-failure-macbook-pro-late-2015.2053729/

Given that Apple has a cash mountain bigger $250,000,000,000 it seems curiously uncaring of future customer sales to the disenchanted now.

“Apple’s cash pile hits $285.1 billion, a record
Apple reported earnings on Thursday for the quarter that ended in December. The tech giant has said it plans to make $38 billion in tax payments to reflect new tax rules passed last year. Apple is also investing in expanding its content services and operations in emerging markets like India.
Matt Hunter | Anita Balakrishnan
Published 4:37 PM ET Thu, 1 Feb 2018 Updated 6:27 PM ET Thu, 1 Feb 2018 “

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
16 July 2018

Another non-problem of Apple worth knowing about.

theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/16/macbook-pro-keyboard-update-fix-dust-issues

Member

Today’s update from John Lewis.
Last night I e-mailed them again requesting the CEO details and Address so as I could write directly to the CEO.( I know I can get this off the web but I wanted to request it from them).
to make a formal complaint and also confirming I wished to continue my claim under the durability clause. I have copied and pasted their reply below:

Thank you for your most recent email.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 9-3-E it clearly states at the bottom of section 9 that if the retailer is in breach of any of the above to follow to section 19.

Section 19 states if we are in breach of section 9 that yourself as the consumer has the short-term right to reject (30 days from purchase), this means the claim you are trying to make is only valid within the first 30 days of purchase. Please see the link provided below:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/section/19/enacted

As you are now outside of the first 30 days, as previously advised us to help and proceed with your claim we will require evidence the item has suffered an inherent fault. If we are not provided this then we do not have any legal obligation to cover the cost of the repair free of charge.

The term durability means that an item is able to withstand wear, pressure or damage. As the Apple genuis bar report states that a failure of the main board has occurred, meaning a fault has devepoled, you again would be unable to make a claim under the subsection durability as this is a fault that has occurred unfortunately over time.

If you would like the name, address and contact details for the managing director then this information is accessible on the internet. Although, I do need to make yourself aware that your complaint will be passed back down to our Customer Care Team who deal with Head Office complaints.

I will be more than happy to raise your case with themselves as they will be your point of contact upon writing a complaint to the managing director. Please respond to this email confirming if you would like this to be done on your behalf.

Our position at this time will remain unchanged unless a written report can be supplied proving the laptop is inherently faulty. Should you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 113 0806 (option 1) quoting the above reference number, or alternatively reply to this email. Our opening hours are 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 6pm Sunday

So their interpretation; the law on durability runs out after 30 days.

I think they are playing with interpretation of the law. They are also basically telling me if I write to the CEO it will just get passed back down the chain! If anyone out there is better at the legal jargon than me please advise. Once I am sure I have my interpretation of the law correct I will see this through to the end. John Lewis should not be able to treat customers with such contempt.

Member

I have posted another update but it says my comment is awaiting moderation. it has said that for two days any ideas why or do I need to re post it?

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
19 July 2018

Just re-post it and remove and www references if you had any in the original post.

Member

Today’s update from John Lewis.
Last night I e-mailed them again requesting the CEO details and Address so as I could write directly to the CEO.( I know I can get this off the web but I wanted to request it from them).
to make a formal complaint and also confirming I wished to continue my claim under the durability clause. I have copied and pasted their reply below:
Thank you for your most recent email.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 9-3-E it clearly states at the bottom of section 9 that if the retailer is in breach of any of the above to follow to section 19.
Section 19 states if we are in breach of section 9 that yourself as the consumer has the short-term right to reject (30 days from purchase), this means the claim you are trying to make is only valid within the first 30 days of purchase. As you are now outside of the first 30 days, as previously advised us to help and proceed with your claim we will require evidence the item has suffered an inherent fault. If we are not provided this then we do not have any legal obligation to cover the cost of the repair free of charge.
The term durability means that an item is able to withstand wear, pressure or damage. As the Apple genuis bar report states that a failure of the main board has occurred, meaning a fault has devepoled, you again would be unable to make a claim under the subsection durability as this is a fault that has occurred unfortunately over time.
If you would like the name, address and contact details for the managing director then this information is accessible on the internet. Although, I do need to make yourself aware that your complaint will be passed back down to our Customer Care Team who deal with Head Office complaints.
I will be more than happy to raise your case with themselves as they will be your point of contact upon writing a complaint to the managing director. Please respond to this email confirming if you would like this to be done on your behalf.
Our position at this time will remain unchanged unless a written report can be supplied proving the laptop is inherently faulty. Should you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 113 0806 (option 1) quoting the above reference number, or alternatively reply to this email. Our opening hours are 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 6pm Sunday
So their interpretation; the law on durability runs out after 30 days.
I think they are playing with interpretation of the law. They are also basically telling me if I write to the CEO it will just get passed back down the chain! If anyone out there is better at the legal jargon than me please advise. Once I am sure I have my interpretation of the law correct I will see this through to the end. John Lewis should not be able to treat customers with such contempt.
This is the post I tried to put on a couple of days ago. I have removed the www reference, thanks for the advice on why it would not post.

Member

Today’s update from John Lewis.
Last night I e-mailed them again requesting the CEO details and Address so as I could write directly to the CEO.( I know I can get this off the web but I wanted to request it from them).
to make a formal complaint and also confirming I wished to continue my claim under the durability clause. I have copied and pasted their reply below:
Thank you for your most recent email.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 9-3-E it clearly states at the bottom of section 9 that if the retailer is in breach of any of the above to follow to section 19.
Section 19 states if we are in breach of section 9 that yourself as the consumer has the short-term right to reject (30 days from purchase), this means the claim you are trying to make is only valid within the first 30 days of purchase. As you are now outside of the first 30 days, as previously advised us to help and proceed with your claim we will require evidence the item has suffered an inherent fault. If we are not provided this then we do not have any legal obligation to cover the cost of the repair free of charge.
The term durability means that an item is able to withstand wear, pressure or damage. As the Apple genius bar report states that a failure of the main board has occurred, meaning a fault has developed, you again would be unable to make a claim under the subsection durability as this is a fault that has occurred unfortunately over time.
If you would like the name, address and contact details for the managing director then this information is accessible on the internet. Although, I do need to make yourself aware that your complaint will be passed back down to our Customer Care Team who deal with Head Office complaints.
I will be more than happy to raise your case with themselves as they will be your point of contact upon writing a complaint to the managing director. Please respond to this email confirming if you would like this to be done on your behalf.
Our position at this time will remain unchanged unless a written report can be supplied proving the laptop is inherently faulty. Should you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 113 0806 (option 1) quoting the above reference number, or alternatively reply to this email. Our opening hours are 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 6pm Sunday
So their interpretation; the law on durability runs out after 30 days.
I think they are playing with interpretation of the law. They are also basically telling me if I write to the CEO it will just get passed back down the chain! If anyone out there is better at the legal jargon than me please advise. Once I am sure I have my interpretation of the law correct I will see this through to the end. John Lewis should not be able to treat customers with such contempt.
This is the post I tried to put on a couple of days ago. I have removed the www reference, thanks for the advice on why it would not post.

Member

I’m sure the glossary given in the Sale of Goods Act Explained – the predecessor to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – is still perfectly valid. Durability has nothing to do with 30 days or an initial fault; it has everything to do with it lasting a reasonable time given the relevant factors, one of which must be the price in comparison to similar products. Apple products are expensive and should, therefore, last several year; certainly more than yours. that is my understanding.

I think it arrogant of JLP not to give you their CEO’s details, and they could well be in breach of the law by denying your right to redress under the Act. I would now contact their CEO and copy Apple and point out the legal position and (if you so choose) tell them you will both publicise their lack of assistance and refer the problem to the small claims court.

durability – the durability requirement is that the item should work or last for a reasonable time but it does not have to remain of satisfactory quality. For example, a pair of wellington boots should stay waterproof but does not have to keep its brand new appearance.
reasonable time – this depends on the item and the circumstances. What is reasonable is determined by taking everything into account and considering what an impartial person would think is reasonable.
impartial – used to describe someone who does not favour any side in an argument or discussion. A good example of someone who is impartial is a judge in a court – they must listen to both sides and make a decision based purely on what is said in court and any evidence provided.

Member

Thanks for coming back, Martin. I think it’s time to contact either the consumer ombudsman or go to the small claims court. There is advice on both on the Which? website. It might be worth paying for advice from Which? Legal.

I don’t think there is any way of proving that the fault existed at the time of sale. Logic boards fail just like washing machine motors fail but it would take a lot of cases to provide evidence that there is a common fault with your model. The ill-defined durability clause of the Consumer Rights Act must be the basis of your claim. As Malcolm says, the 30 day period is irrelevant and having this very poor email will help your case.

I’ve only ever regarded the CEO email address as a means of having an email for a company rather than having to use web forms where it is difficult to keep a track of correspondence. The CEO of a large company is unlikely to respond to every email received from a customer and at least JL has been honest about saying that their Customer Care Team will handle the case.

As I said before it’s vital that you push for a repair rather than a partial refund or a discount on a new computer because these options could leave you with little recompense. Apple does provide spares to Apple Approved Retailers and their own workshops so a repair is perfectly possible.

Member

I find John Lewis’s interpretation of the durability clause quite perverse and certainly well worth testing.

I think Wavechange’s suggestion of going to the Consumer Ombudsman is a good idea but unfortunately John Lewis is not listed as one of the companies participating in the scheme [as at January 2018].

Member

Oops. Thanks for looking this up, John.

If this does go to court I assume that incorrect information supplied by JL could be useful to support Martin’s claim.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
20 July 2018

I know JL are a Which? favoured concern so it would be very unlikely toadd its weight and use this as an example – which is a shame. Do subscribers and people who use Conversation need to consider crowd-funding an action? Obviously slightly embarrassing for Which? but this is an extremely important concern that we have been talking about for several years and Which? has not pursued in activist manner.

Member

I have wondered about crowd funding and petitions for some time, Patrick. Crowd funding and petitions can be successful even in cases that are in my view poorly researched and presented. Perhaps a more professional approach would be much more successful. What is vital is to pursue issues that many are concerned about, as Which? generally does in its campaigns.

I’m surprised that we have mentioned but not really explored to opportunities for class action in the UK: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34402483

Member

I’d rather see petitions on consumer topics carried out under the auspices and control of a respected consumer organisation. I (and others) have criticised some of Which?’s campaigns and I think they could be improved with more consultation but, overall, I think they should be the right vehicle.

It would help if Which? began a move to significantly increase its membership. The more supporters it gets for its campaigns the better.

Member

This has prompted an off-centre thought: it is disappointing that very few of the people who have been employed by Which?, and in many cases been writers/editors. etc, of Conversation, have come back as contributors in their spare time to give us the benefit of their accumulated wisdom. Perhaps they have had enough of it, or it was just a job!

Member

Historically, Which? has had a fairly high turnover of its staff and a reasonable idea of what the staff think can be found by looking at the comments on Glassdoor. I suspect that Which? hires a lot of young and aspirational, perhaps idealistic folk who can then become frustrated in the Which? environment. The impending announcement of a new CEO won’t help, either

Member

No, but I am cheered by it, Ian.

Member

The problem I see is we need a CEO for Which? Ltd, but we also need a separate one for the Consumers’ Association. I do not see that the control of the consumers’ guardian organisation should be left in the hands of one whose aim is generating profit. Given the pay scale currently offered I would have thought you could split it between two decent candidates..

Member

“I suspect that Which? hires a lot of young and aspirational, perhaps idealistic folk” (https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/faulty-washing-machine-bosch-john-lewis/#comment-1537918).

Yes, I believe that too. I think an organisation such as the Consumers’ Association needs them – fresh ideas not coloured too much by experience. But they should be accompanied in equal measure by middle aged people who have experienced different organisations and industries, gained real-life experience, and also by older people with deeper knowledge and maturity who have seen the same sort of issues in the past and can bring their own advice to the party.They all need to pool resources and work together.

When I joined my first employer I had a lot of “good ideas”, and some of them proved so. But, they only became useful because of the advice and assistance received from those helpful, and tolerant, more experienced colleagues whom I worked with.

Member

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is the ultimate protection for consumers. I would hope to see Which? ensuring that when consumers have exhausted their normal polite approach to a retailer with a genuine product failure that they would use the CRA as a means to “make consumers as powerful as the organisations they have to deal with”.

None of us want to use the courts if it can be avoided. Which? could campaign for all retailers to formally train staff in the basic features of the CRA, show prominent advice in store and on line giving the principle rights of customers, and have more detailed guides available for customers to help them with a claim. Maybe when knowledge is more equally shared there would be fewer arguments, and retailers would stop acting illegally in denying consumer rights.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
20 July 2018

I suggest that is an idealistic view of what should happen. The only way that breaching the CRA will be much reduced is by a few expensive and high profile cases widely reported.

Currently there is every incentive for retailers to block and little in the way of a disincentive. HAving worked in several customer facing industries I know exactly how this pans out.

Member

I totally agree with you, Patrick. But I do consider many shop assistants are ill-informed about consumer rights, as are many consumers. Showing them both what they are entitled to can only help.

I do agree on using the criminal part of CRA against appropriate retailers and to publicise the outcomes. I believe this is something Which? could do on behalf of consumers. It has certainly seen quite a few appropriate cases in Convos.