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Do you know your consumer rights?

Ever had a faulty product, missing parcel, dodgy second-hand car or delayed flight? Well, you have rights – but do you know what to do with them?

Last year, we asked 2,000 of our members about some common consumer rights misconceptions.

We found some scenarios seemed to be cut and dry – such as returning a faulty second-hand car to a dealership or staying in a room with a carpark view instead of the seaview you’d booked.

But others were a lot more confusing.

For example, we asked if it was true or false whether a landlord was responsible for all repairs and maintenance to a property.

44% said true     |     29% said false     |      27% didn’t know

The correct answer is true – but you’ll need to check your tenancy agreement as to what is the tenant’s responsibility. Usually this comes down to keeping the property in a good state of repair, changing the lightbulbs and keeping plugholes clear.

Read more about your responsibilities as tenant in our guide

Does where you shop change your rights?

We asked if you ordered a product online, you have more more rights to return it than if you ordered in-store.

40% said true, but 60% either didn’t know, or incorrectly thought you had the same rights in-store as you do online.

In fact, you have much more enhanced rights shopping online thanks to the 14-day cooling off cancellation period which doesn’t end until 14 days after you receive whatever you bought online.

Read our guide to cancelling an order for goods or services you placed online

“I’m renting and there’s mould”

We also asked if it was always the landlord’s responsibility to remove mould.

33% said true     |     27% said false     |     40% didn’t know

This answer is false as, sometimes, depending on the type of mould, it falls on the tenant’s shoulders to remove it. You can read more about which mould is whose responsibility in our free guide.

Helping resolve your queries

Here at Which? Conversation, we’re often asked to help with problems varying from delivery issues to misleading advertising and from faulty televisions to shady art dealings.

And fair enough, consumer law can be complicated with lots of grey areas and uncertainty about where to turn if you’re not being heard.

Visit Which? Consumer Rights

Have you had any problems where your consumer rights haven’t been upheld? Or any issues where your rights haven’t been clear? Tell us in the comments and we can help direct you to the right advice.

Comments
Charmaine says:
17 November 2020

I I purchased a fish tank and accessories, to fit the electrics to our system I had to take the plug off (cut off). Then discovered the tank leaked, asked for a replacement but a replacement would take too long, the fish died. I know want a full refund as a replacement tank is useless yet they say we voided the warranty by cutting the plug even though the tank wasn’t fit for purpose and killed the fish. Any advice would be appreciated.

Hi Charmaine – Please can you say why the plug was unsuitable.

To comply with current regulations, domestic electrical products have to be fitted with a normal 13 amp BS 1363 plug or be supplied with a fitted converter plug so that they will plug into a UK socket. If you have imported the tank the purchase may not be covered by these regulations.

Anthony Flack says:
17 November 2020

Vodafone Broad – the service is consistently unreliable. On the latest occasion I complained, the chat agent suggested I dismantle the BT Openreach socket and find a reset button. I complained using their web form on 26/10, got a machine generated response and have heard nothing since. I chased on 6/11 and again today, also writing to the CEO.

The complaint is about the broadband availability as it cuts out repeatedly through the day – it is not the Wi-Fi as such.

I actually got through to an engineer this evening after 50 minutes on hold and for balance he was excellent, agreeing to dispatch an engineer to check the connection from the box to the house.

Anthony

Hi Anthony,

Sorry to hear about the trouble you have been having with this. I am having the same issue at the moment although unsure if its just the Wifi cutting out or the something wrong with the router (or generally Virgin being Virgin)

Please let us know how you get on with this, just out of interest as I may need to do the same.

Thanks

This describes what is, on the face of it, awful customer care by Currys:
https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/currys-pc-world-delaying-refunds-or-replacements-for-faulty-products-during-pandemic/
While this points out most of the Consumer Rights Act provisions it fails to mention a key requirement which is that a remedy must be provided in a reasonable time without significant inconvenience to the consumer. In these cases mentioned that is patently not the case.

However, we are in unusual times where many services cannot be carried out as easily as usual. But I do not see why replacements and refunds for clearly faulty goods should be delayed. To be fair, I think it would be useful to find out just how badly, or otherwise, Currys fare in this by surveying consumers, maybe through Connect, to see how other retailers have performed in dealing with product faults.

A recent Which? article about Currys with advice that is equally relevant to other companies that let us down: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/11/currys-pc-world-failing-customers-with-faulty-products-and-failed-deliveries/

In the reports cited in the press release, Currys PC World are prone to state that the problems are due to mistakes and human error. I think it goes much deeper than that and that there is a basic cultural problem within the retailer’s organisation, possibly arising from an aggressive commercial attitude and an obsession with minimising costs but without regard for customer satisfaction. Perhaps CPCW now has such a dominant place in the tech and appliance market that it thinks it can afford to treat customers with contempt. The platitudinous comments from the company when asked about problem cases just do not ring true; the same things keep happening over and over again, and again, and again. There seems to be a complete disconnect between higher management and the shop floor, and there has been evidence of this in many other cases brought up previously in Which? Conversation.

My suggestion is to go to Currys, look at the products, ask questions and find out everything you want to know about them, then look somewhere else and order it on-line. For most things, Argos does a decent job, and for appliances Boots and AO provide good service at a competitive price. Other sources, including other specialist electrical goods suppliers, are also worth considering.

Rosie says:
18 November 2020

I have been waiting for a refund from racingbreaks.com for 2020 Royal Ascot Tickets since the event was cancelled in April. Racing breaks firstly never communicated the option of a refund, when challenged, they agreed I was entitled to one. I have since received continuous excuses about the number of events and refunds they have to process and limited staff as the reason I have not received my refund. They even confirmed it would be processed in 8-12 weeks, 19 weeks ago. Although originally sympathetic to the situation I now just wish to have the refund I am entitled to. Beyond emailing them and asking them for it (which I have done) what steps can I take to get the refund I am entitled too? Thanks

Hi Rosie,

Sorry to hear about this. I can imagine this is a really frustrating situation to go through. Have you contacted your bank/card provider at all to see if they could process the refund from their end?

Not sure if you have seen it but there is some general guidance here that might help.

Let us know how you get on with this.

I have ordered a rug from a reputable company 5 months ago, originally it was scheduled to arrive within 8 weeks but delay after delay, and when they had actually listed it on their website for cheaper I got irritated as they said this was ‘an error’, I requested a refund, they obliged and said it would take 14 working days. It has been almost a month with no refund. Every email I send about the frustration of waiting for the product that never arrived and now the delay in refund, I’m told to .. ‘wait’ I feel lost. I paid over 5 months ago and have no product or refund. What can I do? Please don’t say wait

Ahh Ali, that’s so frustrating. How did you pay for this rug?

Mike P says:
20 November 2020

I purchased tickets to a show which was due to take place in February. The show has been moved to the following year and we are unable to attend due to other commitments. Easy ticketing are saying this is a Force Majeure situation and that their Ts and Cs state that under these conditions they will only provide a credit note not a refund. Firstly as there is not guidance to suggest that the event cannot take place next year does Force Majeure apply. Secondly either way am i entitled to a refund?
thanks

I purchased an item that came with a free gift. The free gift hasn’t arrived (4 months now) & the retailer is saying that the item has been discontinued!
Where do I stand as the attraction to purchase for me was the inclusion of the free gift.

MR PAUL G ALLEN says:
24 November 2020

I bought a fan tower heater from PC world Currys. Your review rates the heater as “very quiet” but my wife and I thought the noise was obtrusive and decided to return. Currys have now written to say “Your returns request is refused”. A conundrum, so where do I go from here ?

Hi Mr Allen,

I am sorry to hear of your issue with with this fan heater.

In order to return an item, you must demonstrate an inherent/manufacturing fault.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that goods must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and be as described. If the fault has occurred within 30 days of owning the item , you can exercise your short term right to reject and request a full refund. The burden of proof will be on you as the consumer to prove that a fault exists or the item does not match its description.

It is unclear whether the level of noise produced by this unit could be construed as a fault. For example, if the item was described by Curry’s as “Quiet” then you can argue that this is misleading and therefore the goods do not match their description.

If you are beyond the first 30 days of owning the heater then the remedy available to you will be the right to a repair or replacement free of charge.

Another avenue of recourse may be available to you and that is the 14 day cooling – off period. If you purchased the heater online or over the telephone (not in store), you can return the item for any reason within 14 days of taking possession. There are a few caveats here, the main one being if you tried and tested the item beyond what you are permitted to test at the store i.e. use it for days then this right will be extinguished.

I hope the information above is of assistance. If you do require any further tailored legal advice, then please do call Which? Legal to explore our membership options.

This information is provided by Which? Legal. To join call 01174 054 854 or visit Which? Legal to find out more.

Evgeni Hristov
Which? Legal – Legal Adviser

That’s fair enough but I think Paul feels that he has been misled by a Which? review.

If Paul suspects that he has a faulty fan he could ask a Currys store for a demonstration, which would be helpful in deciding to pursue a claim for a faulty product.

Evgeni wrote: “There are a few caveats here, the main one being if you tried and tested the item beyond what you are permitted to test at the store i.e. use it for days then this right will be extinguished.” That is my understanding, but I cannot recall seeing this information on the Which? website.

The key seems to be whether the fan heater is “not as described”. If Currys or the promotional literature describe it as “very quiet” and it patently is not, then that CRA clause could be invoked – although there might be an argument about what constituters “very quiet”. I’d suggest any description in a Which? review that does not reproduce a manufacturer’s or retailer’s claim would not be a valid reason to reject a product.

Presumably Mr Allen did not buy the heater on-line, but if he had he would have been entitled to cancel his order and return it within 14 days. I feel the question should have been asked and the alternative resolution mentioned for the benefit of other readers.

Evgeni did say this in his reply, unless I misunderstood John’s comment.

My mistake – so he did. Apologies Evgeni and thanks, Malcolm. In this case the quickness of the eye deceived the hand. I should have realised that a heater has a cooling-off period.

Bronte Somes says:
24 November 2020

Hello, i had an ICO fire suppression pump / system installed. The pump makes a loud de-pressuring sound up to 4 times a week. Installer stated it should only be once a week when it self tests. After a year of back and forth and after having the pump serviced, the noise persists. The installer has now stated i should turn the pump off and buy a new one for £1500 plus VAT. The concern was raised within months of the pump being installed but they now state i am outside the one year warranty.

Hi Bronte – Here is advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

Your rights are against the company you paid for the system and if you first reported a problem within six months the fault is assumed to be present when the system was purchased. I understand that you should be offered a full refund if the first repair failed. (This would not apply if the system was older than six months when the fault occurred.

It does not matter that the guarantee has expired because you have statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act, which takes precedence.

For the CRA to apply the fire suppression system must be for domestic rather than commercial use.

If you need help with your case you could subscribe to Which? Legal.

Elizabeth Jackson says:
24 November 2020

I bought a TV from argos 2 weeks later lines started running up the screen,I took it back and they refused to exchange it or fix it and also refused a refund said the minute I leave the store it is then comes under accidentally damage and there is nothing they can do

Hi Elizabeth – You have 30 days during which you can reject faulty goods:

“Use your 30-day right to reject
Your right to a quick refund is limited to 30 days from the date you took ownership of the product (this could be the date of purchase or the date it was delivered to you – whichever is later).” See this Which? advice for more information: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

It is an offence for Argos to mislead you about your legal rights.

Elizabeth, what Argos told you is nonsense. As wavechange says you can return a faulty product in the first 30 days for a full refund. In the first 6 months the fault is presumed to be present when new. Argos would have to prove you damaged it to deny your claim. If they persist I’d first insist on seeing the manager, say that you will report them to Trading Standards who can prosecute them for denying you your legal rights and you will take them to court to get your refund. Suggest they contact head office who are sure to point out the legal position.

Further to what Malcolm has said, if retailers mislead customers they are breaching one of the regulations of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act. The maximum penalty is two years in jail.

Terry Foster says:
25 November 2020

I sent a parcel to myself, from Shepperton to me here in Spain. Hermes have admitted they ‘Lost’ my parcel, but say because i did not take out their extended insurance, cost of £20, they are not obliged to pay the full value of the goods in the box They lost. Is this right?

Possibly, Terry. It depends on the terms and conditions of your contract with Hermes. What amount will they pay out and how does that differ from the value of the parcel’s contents?

Mr R G Parsons says:
25 November 2020

Hi, I’m really stuck and need some advice. I purchased a TV from an independent shop in Feb 20 it came with their 12 month warranty. A solid blue line appeared 8 months later in Oct so the retailer agreed to a repair. After 3 weeks they said they were unable to repair and suggested I pick another TV as exchange. They had nothing to the equivalent spec or price, they only had more expensive TVs. They refused a refund even though they couldn’t repair or replace and said my only course of action was to pay the difference for a more expensive TV or wait for a repair which they said could take 6 months which I think is unreasonable. Cornered, I was foced into ‘upgrading’, costing another £150. I was not refunded the original purchase price of £800 and resold the new TV for £950 so I have 2 receipts, £800 & £150. They charged £20 delivery. I purchased this on 20 Nov. TV delivered 23 Nov (taken ownership) The new TV has a damaged screen and I want to reject it. The defect is a 5cm square section of dead pixels in the top right corner, I did not notice as it is covered by protective wrapping and I was only shown a demo of the TV which was with a black back ground, therefore the damage is not obvious, I only noticed once a coloured screen appeared whilst setting up the TV, this was after the delivery men had left and was hours later after work, about 9pm. I did not move the TV after the deliver men unboxed it, therefore it couldn’t have been me who caused the damage. I notified the company the day after delivery on 24 Nov by email and phone with pictures that showed no obvious damage on a black screen, but then is clear to see on a coloured background. They said the replacement was delivered with no issue, they advised I must have damaged the screen, and as such they have no responsibility to help me since I didn’t flag the damage to the delivery men.

I want a full refund as I don’t feel I’ve been treated well or had my rights exercised. Is this possible? Do I have a case and what statutory rights should I rely on to enable them to concede and refund me?
Many thanks in advance, Rich P

Dear Mr Parsons,

Thank you for your message and I’m sorry to hear about the problems with your television.

I think it could be interpreted that you entered into a new contract on the 20 November 2020. As you may be aware under s.9/10/11 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 there is a requirement that the TV must be of satisfactory quality, fit for its particular purpose (where the purpose was made known prior to contracting) and meet its description.

In my view, the TV appears to be not of a standard that a reasonable person would consider satisfactory. Therefore, you could look to hold the retailer responsible for breach of contract. The first remedy for this, given you are in the first 30 days commencing the day after delivery, would be a rejection i.e you rejecting the product, making it available for collection and receiving a full refund.

I’ve provided two links below that you should consider reviewing:
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/can-i-claim-on-my-credit-card-when-something-goes-wrong

Please be aware the burden of proof is on you when exercising the short term right to reject to show the fault was at the point of delivery. In my view, it’s very reasonable for the fault to be detected at the point when the television is being set up and turned on and therefore their argument that the fault must be detected at delivery is not particularly feasible given the situation.

I hope this helps and puts you on the right track to getting this resolved.

This information is provided by Which? Legal. To join call 01174 054 854 or visit Which? Legal to find out more.

James Shelton
Which? Legal – Lawyer

@james-shelton Hi James – I cannot see anything in the advice on the Which? website about the consumer having to prove that a fault is present at the point of delivery. I had assumed that faults were assumed to be present at the time of supply unless the retailer could prove otherwise during the first six months.

TVs are cumbersome and there is plenty of opportunity to damage a large screen during unpacking and mounting on a stand or on a wall bracket, so it is right that our laws protect companies as well as consumers.

Thank you and your colleagues for providing an insight into the complexities of consumer law.

Guidance to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says:
“If the goods breach the rights under the Act in the first 6 months there is an assumption that the issue was present at the time of delivery – unless this is incompatible with the type of goods or how the rights are breached, or it is shown that the goods did comply with the rights at delivery. So if you do not believe that the assumption is correct, you must prove otherwise. After the first 6 months, it is the responsibility of the consumer to show that goods did not meet the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act at the time of delivery“. This is guidance for the seller – “you”.

The term “fault” in the CRA means, I believe, anything that breaches the contract , whether that is • match their description • be of satisfactory quality • be fit for purpose. So what the customer needs to do is claim that one of the conditions is not met to be able to claim redress or remediation. If disputed, the retailer must prove otherwise. After 6 months the onus is on the customer to prove the “fault” (issue) was present from new. So, in Mr Parsons case I suggest the dead area of the screen, the fault, is assumed present from new and the retailer has to prove that not to be the case and that it was caused by Mr Parsons.

Mr Parson’s TV is clearly faulty since it has a 5cm square area with dead pixels, but it’s worth knowing that knowing that a screen with the odd dead pixel may still be deemed to be of satisfactory quality for screens on TVs, monitors, etc.

Dead pixels that are permanently on and near the centre of a screen are more conspicuous than those that are permanently off or near the edge of the screen. The type of dead pixels is covered by international standard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_13406-2

Manufacturing quality has improved and it’s a long time since I have seen a flat screen with dead pixels, but they caused disputes when flat screens were launched. Sadly, companies did not inform customers of their dead pixel policy prior to sale.

Retrospectively speaking, the faulty TV I purchased a few years ago was supplied new at the store at the time of purchase and driven straight home to my address. However, it eventually necessitated contacting the manufacturer who confirmed a faulty consignment had inadvertently been sent out to retailers before JL would accept my request for a new replacement.

In Mr Parsons case, the fault developed 8 months later when the onus would be on him to prove the fault was there at the time of delivery, which evidently it was not, but nevertheless he was sold a TV that was ‘Not Fit For Purpose’ as James makes the point, as it was still covered under its 12 month warranty.

To exonerate any discrepancies caused by electronically operated larger type goods delivered by the retailer directly to the address of the consumer, would it not be in the interest of both parties, instead of just the consumers, (as Wavechange alludes to) to test the products capacity to comply with the Consumers Rights Act at the point of delivery?

I brought a Graphics card for my PC 5 and a half months ago, since i brought it i’ve had no end of woe’s with my PC crashing and also getting dead shutdowns, after looking online to solve the problem, i read and saw on videos that i had to do various things to get the graphics card to work properly, one of which was to replace the thermal pads under the cooler, which i did. this didn’t work so i asked to RMA it with the retailer i sent it off last week and now the retailer is saying because i popped the warranty void sticker they can’t be held responsible and have to send it back to Taiwan and i have to rely on the good graces of the company in Taiwan to either replace it or send me it back and they sent me a form to sign waiving my consumer rights. what can i do about this? at the moment i have a £400 paperweight. do i accept them sending it back to Taiwan and hope in the good graces of a corporation or do i have any recourse this end?

thanks for reading

DerekP says:
26 November 2020

Hi adam, as you are just within 6 months of acquiring your graphics card, I think your warranty is not as important as your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

As just posted above by malcolm r: “If the goods breach the rights under the Act in the first 6 months there is an assumption that the issue was present at the time of delivery – unless this is incompatible with the type of goods or how the rights are breached, or it is shown that the goods did comply with the rights at delivery. So if you do not believe that the assumption is correct, you must prove otherwise. After the first 6 months, it is the responsibility of the consumer to show that goods did not meet the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act at the time of delivery“. (This is guidance for the seller – “you”.)

So I think the onus lies on the retailer to either repair or replace the card, unless they can prove that the fault was not present at the time of manufacture. If there is online documentation of other users seeing faults with these cards, it will be hard for the reatiler to prove that your was not also affected.

thank you DerekP for the response.

I just sought out some advice with PayPal as I paid with them. it turns out I brought it 204 days ago 🙁 so I reached the end of their chargeback time, unfortunately having gone through various processes to try and fix the problems I had with the card from the outset, replacing cheaper parts in the system and sorting out custom cooling for it, then removing said custom cooling. I seem to have just gone over the 6 months.

The manufacturers of the card have said via communication with a popular tech youtuber that the first revision of the card was lacking in cooling and have since revised the card in multiple ways trying to fix said issues, also there have been a lot of public threads about said issues.

The trouble lies in the fact that I had removed the warranty void sticker as it was placed on a screw that attaches the cooler which I had to take off to either apply the recommended fix from the youtuber mentioned or to replace the cooler altogether.

DerekP says:
26 November 2020

Adam, as you are in fact outside the 1st 6 months and removed the warranty sticker:

Your warranty may now be void – a contract law expert might be needed to confirm or deny that.

Under CRA 2015, this now switches the onus for proving that the fault was presented at the time of purchase onto you. If it well established that the grahics card maker had to redesign the card, then that may be a relatively simple case to make. As your contract is with your retailer, you’d need to prove that either to their satisfaction or at least well enough to convince a UK small claims court, if you choose to resolve the matter there.

But I’m assuming your retailer is in the UK. Is that the case?

Yes, its a well known .co.uk Estore. they have been a reasonable Estore & I have used them for well over two decades, I’ve never had a problem with them before and don’t really see this as a problem, as they have offered a way to get the end result I would like to see from this, it will get sorted one way or another, the issue I have with it is they have sent me an Email to sign that basically states I will have to waive my consumer rights for them to send it back and there is then no guarantee that the manufacturer will even fix the problem let alone give me a time frame.

They expect me to sign this and I just wanted some advice on the ramifications and legality of that. Because if I get it back in the same condition as I sent it or worse (who knows what would/could happen on route to Asia) they will just state you signed the waiver, tough luck! and then I would be in possession of an expensive paper weight. I’m just struggling with that, I appreciate the advice so far.

Cheers

Adam, denying a consumer their legal rights under the CRA is a criminal offence and can result in them being prosecuted by trading Standards. I do not believe, therefore, they are in any position to require you to waive those rights.

As John says, it appears to be a well-documented problem and, on that basis, the retailer is required to make redress in a timely way. That is by a repair or a replacement. Any contact with the manufacturer is their concern, not yours. The only possible problem could be that (understandably) you have tampered with the card but as that was done to try to remedy a problem admitted by the manufacturer I do not think that should be an obstacle.

I agree with Malcolm the manufacturer is the concern of the retailer, and if the manufacturer hails from Taiwan and has no subsidiary branches in the UK, this could add to the time and inconvenience of any settlement. I am not sure whether Adam bought the card online, but if he did, this represents another example of the need to establish the country of origin before purchasing anything online.

Adam has said that he has dismantled the product that he has dismantled the product despite the fact that there was a warning sticker.

The manufacturer can make their own conditions for their guarantee but it would be interesting to know the legal status of the stickers and seals that are used to show interference by someone other than the manufacturer or their agent, and how this affects our statutory rights.

I expect it invalidates the manufacturer’s guarantee as many stickers state. However the guarantee is secondary to the Consumer Rights Act provisions. I doubt that tampering with a sticker would invalidate those rights if you could simply demonstrate that no damage was caused.

That was my point. Bearing in mind that our legislation seeks to balance the rights of consumers and retailers I presume that it is incumbent on the consumer to prove that tampering is irrelevant to the claim.

Hi guys, the manufacturer of the item in question already publicly admitted a design flaw on the original revision of the card, when opening it I followed a guide on the very same youtube video series that explains the design flaw and how to fix it and where the manufacturer admitted fault. they subsequently released a revision 2 of the card with the fixes suggested by the youtuber in question!

the void sticker was inconveniently stuck on one of the screws on the outer casing that allow access to the actual card itself which needed to be removed so the fix could be applied.

The reason for the post was for clarification of the legality of the suggestion by the retailer that if they send it to the manufacturer then they can’t 1. offer me a timeframe and 2. guarantee any repair would take place at all, which i thought was 1. wrong and 2. would be tantamount to signing away my consumer rights.

I do appreciate the responses and it makes for interesting reading none the less 🙂

Hi Adam – Perhaps it’s time to subscribe to Which? Legal for advice, use it and then post about your success here. 🙂

Rather than keeping you waiting for ages the retailer could arrange for a repair to be carried out in this country or fit a refurbished product with your permission. Many products are manufactured abroad, yet other retailers have systems in place to avoid unnecessarily inconveniencing their customers.

It would make sense to just replace a card, that is admitted defective by the manufacturer, with their later corrected design of the card. The retailer should be able to get their own redress ftom their supplier. But that is their problem.

Chris Drinkall says:
26 November 2020

I bought a discount card for an arts centre costing £55.00, which is a yearly subscription, to obtain discounts on food, drinks and cinema tickets. They now say that the discounts are no longer available. I have received no recompense for the months still running on the card.

carol says:
27 November 2020

I brought a gas cooker online from then on 25th April 2020 hadn’t used it up untill aug as with the hot weather didn’t use it much then 5th our thought I could smell gas and thought it was just where I put oven on . Then I smelt it again so rang currys what a palaver currys told me to go to logic .logic told me to go to currys . In the endvi had engineer booked for 29th oct I said I can do pm not am as had hospital appointment . As I was going out the door on 29th engineer bring me to say he be there in 20 min I said sorry but I’m on way to hospital .il be back after 12 .he rang back at 12.01pm to say outside my home I said sorry but I’m waiting for bus to come home he said he will wait 10 min then it will be cancelled . Rang the engineer people up they said next appointment be 5th Nov .take it or leave it .OK il take it got a text message to say they cancelled my 5th Nov appointment as man had death in family the next appointment 29th nov I went im not waiting that long . Currys customer service online us crap you either hang on for long time as no one answers .when they do you get cut off so I made complaint for them to contact me with in 7 days .go no response .so I took myself up to the shop and explained to the manager there .as I was at end of my tether he tried to sort it out so I done a quite protest from 11 30 till 4 pm they tried to sort it out for me even though I brought online the said see if another cook that price £249: then they would swap surprise none that price only dearer the manager got hold of someone else currys online wouldn’t waiver the extra £30 as found same make but in black for £30 dearer so I said right im getting hold of consumer rights and going to escolate my complaint which will see currys in court where it will cost you lit more money
Next day got email from the manager at the shop to say they will waiver the £30
So delivery was for 18th nov that came
But the new cooker was dented so door wouldn’t open .
The delivery men rang there manager explained all what I been through so arranged for new one today 25th Nov and the guys came unpacked new one and door fell off 🙁
So now I am crying as still go no cooker .I’m depressed anxiety and disabled already and from this all hassle its given me
Has made it worse . Been trying to get on the phone to currys .got through so some girl now waiting for her to phone back as she trying to sort it out but I won’t hold my breath for getting a call back . So now I still have no cooker and cannot get any answers .consumer rights said there is not a lot I can do ? As currys contacted me to arrange a swop !so now I’m still none of the wiser where I stand on this

Out of interest, who connected the cooker to the gas supply?

Kathleen Barnes says:
27 November 2020

Hello, I bought a Hotpoint integrated dishwasher from a small local retailer on 17/07 and it was installed a few days later. It is used 2-3 times a day. On 22/11 it stopped working and displayed an error code – something wrong with the heating element. I called Hotpoint on 23/11 and they dispatched an engineer on 26/11. He didn’t have the part and now Hotpoint have told me the part is out of stock and they will be back in touch when it is available. The engineer couldn’t explain why the element had developed a fault after such a short amount of time, he noticed the the salt dispenser was not on the right setting (we live in a hard water area) and that we were using rinse aid when we shouldn’t (because we use 3 in 1 tablets). He said that the installer (also the retailer) should have set the salt dispenser on installation.

I’m really cross. Even with the salt and rinse aid settings incorrectly set I don’t think a brand new appliance should have failed after 4 months. In desperation (at the thought of washing-up for another week…) I contacted the retailer but they said it was nothing to do with them.

I have since discovered that’s not true and that my rights are with the retailer. I want my money back, I feel that the goods are not fit for purpose and I can reasonably expect the produce to cope with my level of use for at least a year. Do you think I am in a position to demand this?

Hi Kathleen – As you have discovered, the retailer is responsible for providing a remedy. Here is some useful advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

Heaters can fail at any time and it is probably just chance that yours failed prematurely. The purpose of salt is to allow the in-built water softener to regenerate and it is common to use rinse aid in addition to 3 in 1 tablets, so I doubt that these factors have affected the life of the heater.

Coronavirus has made life difficult for many companies but hopefully the retailer will arrange a prompt repair, which you are entitled to. Heaters are usually common to different models of washing machine and could be available from online parts stockists even if Hotpoint have no stock. Perhaps that is something you could suggest to the retailer.

A heater should not fail so soon of course. The retailer is responsible for remedying your problem without causing you unreasonable inconvenience. I find it hard to believe that a heater element for a new machine is out of stock. If they cannot tell you when one will be available I believe they should replace the dishwasher. Alternatively if they do not provide either you could press for a full refund, a provision of the consumer rights act for a faulty article that is less than 6 months old. Thst might prompt them into more helpful action.

Kathleen Barnes says:
27 November 2020

That’s really helpful, thank you for taking the time to reply.

Please let us know how you get on, Kathleen.

It’s very common for retailers to say to customers that it is the manufacturer that should deal with claims under the guarantee or the Consumer Rights Act but deliberately misleading customers is an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. I have a printed copy of the relevant part because I have found that staff in our local Currys store have tried to mislead me more than once.

Update. Retailer is willing to repair the part (genuine Hotpoint part and they are – I believe – an approved retailer and installer of Hotpoint goods). Hotpoint say if we allow them to do this it might invalidate the warranty. Hotpoint say they have 28 days to try to repair the product before condemning it. That means they have until 24/12 they say (28 days after the engineer first visited) to fix it. If they don’t do it before then, another department will review whether it can be condemned. What to do other than never go near Hotpoint again?

Any manufacturer’s guarantee or a warranty can provide benefits for consumers but we have various statutory rights. In this case the Consumer Rights Act is relevant. Neither the retailer or manufacturer can remove these rights, though sometimes they try.

Whirlpool (which owns Hotpoint and various other brands of appliances and household products) behaved very poorly towards customers over a large number of fire risk dryers and washing machines sold in the UK. There have been several Conversations about these problems.

I hope you get this resolved soon, Kathleen.

I would go for the retailer’s repair Kathleen, if they are approved and use genuine parts. If the repair fails the Consumer Rights Act then gives you the choice of of a refund, (partial after 6 months to allow for any use) or to keep the product with a price reduction. I would have thought the chances of a new heater failing are low. I don’t know what your Hotpoint guarantee is but beware the free parts for ten years bit; you have to use their appointed engineer to do the fix and their charges are very high, in my experience.

Hotpoint are unlikely to be able to invalidate the guarantee if an appointed repairer has dealt with your dishwasher when they were unable to deal with it in a reasonable time. I’d suggest 4 weeks is not reasonable.

Sarah says:
28 November 2020

I bought a car from a garage and when taking it for it’s MOT believed the car was stolen. Contacted the police who advised the car was stolen, cloned then recovered, but the garage failed to advertise the car as stolen recovered and claimed not to know, but both the police and MOT inspector suggest the car was “screaming at them that something wasn’t right”

So long as a car has a current unqualified MOT certificate [if required], is roadworthy in all respects, and has no damage or non-critical faults there is no necessity for the seller to inform prospective purchasers that it had been stolen and returned to its owner. Even minor damage or condition defects do not need to be declared on sale, it is for the buyer to inspect it and satisfy themselves that the car is worth the price. I don’t know what to make of the comment by the police and the MOT inspector; it is not helpful information unless they explain it. What the garage knew or didn’t know remains a matter of speculation.

John Harriman says:
29 November 2020

Hi I placed an order for blinds online and the manufacturer said they could not supply them in the desired type. They asked if I could pick another, there was nothing suitable. They now tell me I have to cancel the order and my refund will take 5-7 days. Is this right? Surely if they could not supply the goods then it’s there fault and I should have an immediate refund?

John – I think 5-7 days would count as immediate in today’s circumstances.

Refunds are usually paid by reversing the method of payment, so a credit card payment would require a reverse payment to the credit card account, a debit card payment back to the bank account, and a cheque would result in a cheque [unlikely for an on-line purchase]. Only a direct bank transfer would be likely to generate an immediate repayment, but that is not guaranteed. All such repayments involve an administrative process and would normally require the approval of the accounts department and possibly an audit check.

While it is arguable that not being able to supply something ordered could be the company’s fault, they are under no obligation to fulfil orders and reserve the right not to do so. There is heavy demand at present for home improvement products so a stock shortage might not be the supplier’s fault. They offered an alternative product which you declined, so your only recourse was to cancel the order; the seller must issue a refund without unreasonable delay or inconvenience and my view is that 5-7 days is reasonable.

I don’t see any justification in charging a customer until goods are despatched. An exception would be goods made to order.

Many companies [including Amazon, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s] don’t apply the charge until the goods are dispatched but others do. Some need to take payment immediately, and sellers of window blinds [which are made to order and specification] and horticultural nurseries [where despatch might not be for some weeks and orders are held pending availability] are in that category.

It’s like postage and packaging – sometimes its free but the goods cost more, with other firms there is a separate charge and the product is slightly cheaper; sometimes it’s a charge related to the actual p&p cost and sometimes it’s a uniform amount regardless of the size of the order.

Buyers just have to shop around and find the price/delivery/service combination that they prefer; there is generally plenty of choice. It is important, however, that whatever the particular arrangement is, the terms and conditions clearly spell it out.

If you order something in a shop for subsequent delivery or installation you usually have to pay for it upfront or they take a deposit if the delivery date is not known, and that is normally the case even when it is a stock item [not made to order].

I don’t object to paying when I commit an order. The payment seals the contract.

I would like postage and packing to be charged what it costs. It is not difficult to calculate by a retailer. I bought something online from John Lewis (&P) that came in a plastic bag via RoyalMail that would have cost me 86p to post at retail rate. The p&p charged was £3.50. Some argue there is labour in packing it; I’d suggest that as it came from a warehouse that charged the same retail price as a store where there are higher overheads and labour the argument doesn’t hold. I’m not keen on cross subsidy.

If a retailer does not get paid – fully or partially – until the goods are supplied or work has been done there is a strong incentive to ensure that the customer is satisfied. Taking the simplest example of ordering goods that are in stock rather than bespoke or have to be ordered, I can see no reason for taking payment before they have been dispatched. Some companies manage to do this, as you have said.

I recently had four replacement double glazed panels made for the conservatory. I was not charged until the job had been completed, though I would have been happy to pay a deposit.

I keep wish lists of things we might like from John Lewis and Amazon to top up orders to get them over the free p&p threshold. I resent having to pay postage etc for things sent from a warehouse instead of bought from a store [where products are properly displayed and good advice and service are available]. We are ten minutes walk from the John Lewis store but it has had to remain closed longer than open this year unfortunately.

“Free” p&p over a threshold is simply an encouragement for many to buy things they don’t really need. It saves them money in most cases to only buy what they need, even if that means paying for delivery. I am a little perplexed at the justification for paying to click and collect when that can be at the retailer’s own shop. I remember the days when you could order something from a JL&P store – maybe for example when it was out of stock at your local – and they would post it to you free of charge. Maybe that was a bit too generous but retailers do need to do all they can to satisfy customers or we’ll be even more dominated by Amazon.

Has anyone worked out that Amazon might have too much of a market share?

”Amazon now has a market share of more than 30% of the UK’s ecommerce market, up from 28.8% in 2018, according to research from Edge by Ascential, which also rates the UK as the world’s third largest ecommerce market, behind China and the US.

With sales in excess of $30billion this year, Amazon is way out in front of the next closest rivals eBay, which has 9.8% market share. Supermarket giants Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda – owner Walmart – followed with 4.6, 4.5 and 3.9% respectively. Completing the top five was John Lewis, with a 3.6% share of the UK’s e-commerce market.
https://internetretailing.net/marketplaces/marketplaces/amazon-tightens-its-grip-on-uk-ecommerce-with-30-share-20702

Does that include sales by marketplace traders for which Amazon is just a fulfilment organisation?

Presumably the figures given for the grocers are just their shares of the e-commerce market; their sales through physical stores are in addition and possibly take each of the big three into double figures.

There is a strong case for Amazon to be broken up. No company could effectively compete against them now at an affordable cost and in a useful timescale.

Surely there is a top six: Amazon, e-Bay, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASDA, and John Lewis [not a top five as stated].

It bothers me they can’t count. Nor do I like seeing UK trade valued in $ – assumed to be US

It would be a good start to separate Amazon from its marketplace traders. As far as I know, it’s not Amazon itself that is selling dangerous and counterfeit goods.

”….it’s not Amazon itself that is selling dangerous and counterfeit goods.”. Not directly, but when they advertise these products, and make money from them, facilitate payment and distribution, what they are doing is to let fake, unsafe and harmful goods onto the UK market in far greater quantities than would be the case if these rogue traders had to do it without assistance. Not vetting the products is at least irresponsible and, if they were subject to normal retailer rules, would be illegal. Were they to be a reputable organisation they would understand this and take the necessary action without having to be prompted.

Yes, we have agreed about this many times. Why do you support a company that you regard as not reputable, Malcolm?

I do not support it, no more than I support the subsidy of energy fixed price tariffs or being able to quickly negotiate 40% off my AA renewal. But while it is in my own interests I will continue while, at the same time, doing my little bit to get things changed.

So…you don’t buy anything from then, then?

I feel more comfortable by avoiding Amazon if there is an alternative, and almost always there is.

I have just completed a Connect survey about car insurance and pointed out that I can include good value breakdown cover without any need to switch provider or haggle.

That is not what I said. I said (see above) “I will continue…”. As it happens I do not often use them.

I have used the AA for many years and have had very good service from them. Which? regard it well. Like any insurance, their value only becomes apparent when you need to use them. The insurance on one car does include RAC cover but as they get poor reviews and as I cannot change it to cover me in any car I stay with the AA. A friend gets a cheap deal with Green Flag and has good response on the one time he used them. Maybe I’ll look again in the future if the AA stop discounting.

I wonder if Which? members are happy with companies that hike prices the way that AA and RAC do. The only time I have had to use NFU’s cheap breakdown cover an RAC van turned up promptly and helped me change a wheel after I had a problem with the jack.

AA have just hiked my car insurance up by 15% and our breakdown cover by 41%. Time to haggle.

I feel no guilt as no claims have been made and overall they have got a lot more out of us than we have of them. I have only had 1 unrecoverable claim when my car was stolen in all my years of driving, and I think 2 others which were recoverable from the other parties.

It was some years ago now, but my only experience of Green Flag was when they attended a friend’s car, didn’t look to see what might be wrong with it, but just dumped it at the nearest garage that was shut for 2 days then the repairs had to be paid for.

When I am preparing to haggle I look at what a new member would pay the AA and the RAC for the cover I am renewing and expect to get very close. It has worked every year.

Wavechange asks if Which? members are happy with the hiked prices. I doubt many people are, let alone Which? members. I would prefer to see prices for new and existing members to be the same, and compete on what they offer rather than introductory pricing. Maybe increase a renewal if someone has excessive claims. Until then I’ll continue to either negotiate or choose another provider.

I have received a renewal car insurance notification from NFU with an 11.5% premium reduction. As it was almost doubled following the accident which occurred just over a year ago it is still way up on the pre accident premium.

Negotiations are still ongoing but I am expecting a final decision from The Ombudsman before December 11th when my car insurance is due for renewal.

Until the case is settled It will be almost impossible to switch to another insurer. I certainly would not welcome being pressured into accepting another year with NFU.

What I have done (in the past) when my breakdown insurance price has been hiked has been to arrange alternative cover for the coming year. I then ring the hiking company and explain why I no longer want their service. (They generally say that I should have contacted them before leaving.) I also tell them to remove my contact details from their records because if I’m contacted I will never use them in future. Before I did this I was contacted by companies I had used before.

Apart from needing help with changing a wheel a few years ago the last time I called a breakdown company was in 1979 when my engine developed a major problem, subsequently diagnosed as a manufacturing fault. I just wish that all breakdown companies offered no claims discounts.

malcolm r said: 29 November 2020

“I do not support it”

Ian said:

“So…you don’t buy anything from then, then?”

malcolm r said: 29 November 2020

“That is not what I said.”

The OED says:

Support: Give assistance to, especially financially: patronise (in a business sense).

Ian – Isn’t it clear that Malcolm occasionally buys things from Amazon but does not approve of their commercial behaviour? I don’t know why you are persisting with this line of questioning.

I am the same. I condemn Amazon over many aspects but nevertheless find it convenient, economical and unavoidable in the present circumstances to make selected purchases from Amazon. As Malcolm said, they have some virtues, and I see no sense in depriving myself of the advantages of them for the sake of some principles, which, with the best efforts in the world, I am not going to be able to influence.

We are free to patronise enterprises we don’t like if it suits our primary purpose. I don’t like half the pubs and restaurants I have patronised in my lifetime, and I moan about the big Sainsbury’s we use – but it’s just round the corner and Waitrose is two miles away.

The OED is a good book, but it doesn’t do the shopping.

Trading in a free marketplace is one if the perks of living in a democracy, but it’s when a business becomes too big too fast. that problems can occur, such as when they start to monopolise smaller businesses by acting first as an agent selling their goods and end up swallowing them. When this occurs it is time for the regulators The Competition &.Markets Authority (CMA), previously The Monopolies Commission, to intervene in order to stave off anti-competitive threats, capable of endangering the economy as a whole.

Amazon, Google and Facebook are the current giants who dominate global market trading, attributable to their fast and efficient customer service, and there is no doubt they owe much of that success to the COVID-19 world crisis and online selling.

The other side of the coin however, it is the people who indiscriminately and randomly buy without too much thought about if something seems too good to be true it probably is, who fall victims to these giants and then incessantly complain about them if they are faulty or inferior and not up to the required standard.

As long as the regulators allow these companies to continue to dominate the market, they will continue to trade untaxed, uncontrolled and unabated until our high streets become empty and void, leaving consumers vulnerable and exposed to a faceless online market with very little alternative other than to accept what is sent to them, with little redress if it happens to contain a label that states “Made in China” or some other Far Eastern undemocratic country of origin.

John:

Fair enough; you support Amazon and have never denied that. Malcolm made the outright comment that he did not support Amazon. Purchasing anything from them is supporting them, which is simply what I was pointing out.

Congratulations wavechange on the 2500th comment. 😀 How this Consumer Rights convo has attracted so much interest since Feb 19. It would be nice if someone could trawl through it and summarise key issues and the arguments presented.

There has been quite a bit of repetition, but there have been some interesting cases as well.

It would be good to know how some of the correspondents got on.

Thanks Malcolm. It was not planned. We seem to manage without hesitation, plenty of repetition as John says, and so much deviation that sometimes we inadvertently get back on topic.

I wish we could push for companies to behave in a way that helps consumers, such as not hiking prices without reason. I am not keen in having to fit in with their business models.

A business will survive, or fail, by satisfying, or not, the customers who choose to use it. So perhaps it is the customers who should be pushed. In most cases we can take our custom to whoever we choose.

I do take my custom elsewhere. Thankfully there are companies that don’t hike prices and will even offer discounts for returning customers.

Still pays to shop around.

Of course it does, but (for me at least) it does not engender much trust in a company if they offer a renewal premium 40% higher than for a new customer in the absence of claims.