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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.

Victoria Fox says:
10 January 2020

We purchased a sofa from a local department store in Hertfordshire in March. Was delivered in April. 2 days before Christmas the springs and padding totally failed. Cancelled guests for Christmas. The company has sent an upholsterer to inspect the sofa and they agreed it was too big a job to fix and suggested a replacement. The department store called today to say we can have a credit note or refund (we want a refund) but need to pay a wear and tear charge of £140. The sofa is hardly sat on and is covered in blankets to keep it new. My mother a 9st pensioner sits on its mostly from 18.00-21.30. Myself and father work so probably sit on it 1.5hrs a night maximum. We don’t have any grandchildren so manic bouncing or jumping. The sofa is hardly used. Do we have to pay this charge?

If the upholsterer agreed the sofa had not been abused – as you say, it has not been – then it seems reasonable to assume the failure was due to faulty or inadequate construction. If that were the case then you should be able to choose between a repair (not economic) or a replacement. This is what the Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives as your, and the retailer’s, legal right. If a replacement is not possible, or the retailer agrees to a refund, that effectively takes you to the “final right to reject” when a refund must be made, but that can take account of the use you have had. You’ve had 9 months use, so the reduction should represent this proportion of its expected life. If, for the sake of argument, that were 8 years then they could, in my view, deduct about 10%of the price paid..

It’s certainly worth negotiating, much in the same way that many people do before accepting an offer following an insurance claim. It might be worth exploring whether the company will offer a free replacement and a guarantee rather than losing money on a partial refund.

Mandy Cameron says:
12 January 2020

Could you please help? I bought a pair of trainers for my son online from a retailer via eBay. After the second wearing, my partner noticed that one trainer was visibly larger than the other. Both trainers had size 9 sewn inside. They are clearly not the same size and pictures have been sent to eBay. I have since sent them back to the retailer, however I’ve received an email saying that as they are worn I might not receive a refund. Surely, this is not right.
What are my rights in this situation?
Many thanks.

Hi Mandy – You can make a claim on the basis that the product is ‘not as described’: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

The retailer may not be happy to give a refund because they will be left with a pair of trainers that they cannot sell. I think it would be fair to accept a partial refund on the basis that the problem should have been apparent before your son went out of the house.

That depends, I would suggest, upon how different the actual sizes were from what was labelled and how apparent the difference was when they were worn. Our left and right feet are rarely the same size so it may well be they did not feel too bad at first wearing.

The fault is with the retailer for supplying goods that did not match their description and the fault (not complying with the contract deemed to exist between retailer and customer) lies with the retailer. It seems to me that if this is within 30 days of purchase then a replacement or refund is in order if the retailers mistake would not have been immediately apparent..

I agree with Wavechange and Malcolm.

Selling shoes is a notoriously difficult business because of the necessity to try them on, which obviously cannot be done with mail order or on-line purchasing. This is why the consumer rights laws allow superior remedies compared with buying things in a shop where they can be inspected and, in the case of shoes, tried on. The trade has to make allowances for this problem and set prices accordingly but on-line outlets are relieved of the costs of operating shops so should not object to being fair to their customers.

Reputable on-line shoe sellers offer a free exchange or full refund if the customer is not completely satisfied but usually on condition that the shoes have not been worn outdoors or been damaged. But this case does not turn on customer satisfaction but on the goods not being as described so the remedy is clear. A small difference in shoe size is sometimes hardly perceptible but at Size 9 it would be noticeable and Mandy’s partner did notice that one trainer was visibly larger than the other,

It seems that the retailer has left open the possibility that Mandy might receive a refund so I think she should politely press her case. My feeling is that some negotiation would be appropriate and a small reduction in the refund accepted for a little wear and tear. The lesson is, of course, that things bought on-line or by mail order must be examined carefully before being used, immediately upon delivery if possible, and rejected within the time limits stated if there is a fault.

It would be in the retailer’s interest also to check the rest of the stock in both the respective sizes to see if there is another misfit pair.

Hi Mandy

I am sorry to read of the issue you are currently having.

The retailer cannot place any restriction or limitation on your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (s.31), which are clearly engaged if both trainers are not the same size – they are not fit for purpose and do not match the description assigned to them by the retailer. Both of these are breaches of the implied terms inserted into the contract via the Act.

It makes absolutely no difference whether they were worn or not.

In the circumstances, you are entitled to either reject the trainers for a full refund (if you are within 30 days of the delivery of the goods) or to a replacement of the order within a reasonable period of time, without significant inconvenience to you and, of course, free of charge. Should you elect for a replacement and the trader does not comply then, again, you can reject the trainers for a refund.

If you are interested in receiving further legal advice on the issue, please do consider calling Which? Legal on 0117 456 6020, where we would be glad to assist you.

While the purchaser has the right to reject the goods if the retailer does not comply with the replacement obligation under the Act, this kind of process involving sellers on marketplace websites and other forms of on-line trading can be far from straightforward and not as clear cut as legal advice supposes. Remedies for distance-selling problems are becoming increasingly hard to enforce. Many traders take refuge in the internet just so they can avoid the obligations of regular commerce. Eventually on small claims the purchaser is forced to give up as tracing and communicating with the seller becomes too fraught with difficulty.

Genia Gorna says:
12 January 2020

We rented a holiday cottage over the New Year period, but from day one, the central heating didn’t work properly. The electric switch kept tripping. We contacted the agent, but she said no one could come out to mend it until after we had left. We were with an elderly friend (97 yrs old with COPD and high blood pressure), and we informed her of this, and the possible danger to his health if the place wasn’t warm enough.
I have emailed the agents detailing the problem and requesting a refund. I’m still awaiting a reply. This was two days ago. I’m not sure what our legal rights are. On the website it states that there’s central heating.

I suggest you start by trying to negotiate a partial refund before looking at legal action, Genia. It’s disappointing that this has not already been offered or that there were no electric heaters available that could be used in the even of failure of the central heating. Best of luck.

In what country did you rent the cottage and via whom? You say an agent was involved. They should state any refund policies or guarantees about the accommodation provided. Who did you sign the rental agreement with?

Dear Genia

I am sorry to read of the issues you suffered with your holiday. I can well imagine that at this time of year, inadequate central heating would have made your stay aggravating and uncomfortable.

On the basis that your booking was not a package holiday (you contracted solely for the cottage rather than any additional services e.g. travel), then my view is that you have a potential case to argue that provision of services to you has not been carried out with reasonable care and skill under s.49 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, particularly in view of the express requirement you communicated in advance of booking. In the circumstances, I consider you would potentially be entitled to a reduction in the price paid, under s.56 of the Act.

One question that occurs to me is whether your contract is with the agent or the owner of the property. Importantly, a potential claim for breach of contract would lie against the party with whom you contracted, so do check the booking terms and conditions to identify this.

If you are interested in receiving further legal advice on the issue, please do consider calling Which? Legal on 0117 456 6020 and we would be glad to assist you.

William Rawlins says:
13 January 2020

We went to a cottage in Derbyshire. So small we couldn’t stay more than one night. I got up at 4.30 am, as I stood I wacked my head So hard, on the low ceiling. I had neck ache and headache for literally a week afterwards. So small it had a ladder instead of a staircase. Left early the next day and never went back.
So many other safety issues. It’s unbelievable.

William Rawlins says:
13 January 2020

My email never came to join here.

Sorry to hear that William! I’ve emailed you a new joining email, so hopefully that should land in your inbox soon (if not already).

Fiona says:
14 January 2020

Good Morning

I am looking for some advice please. I recently bought a bed online on 11th December 2019 and paid for express delivery which was meant to be 1-3 days a week past and still never got my delivery. My bed was eventually delivered on 20th December after sending numerous e-mails and making numerous phone calls. I contacted the company for a refund on my express delivery fee which they said they would get refunded but I still haven’t received this yet.

I then assembled my bed on Christmas Eve to find that there was a few faults. There is a hairline crack in the headboard and the lifting mechanism for the ottoman does not work. My bed does not go down with lifting arms on and won’t stay open when the lifting arms are off. I should be able to push the ottoman down the arms on as this is the whole point of an ottoman bed.

I tried to contact the company over the Christmas period but they were closed. I then sent an e-mail e-mail requesting a refund and sent pictures of the faulting goods. The company replied and said I was not entitled to a refund because the bed had been assembled.

Can some please help and advise if there is anything I can do.

I Assume you have checked that you correctly assembled the bed. If so, then presumably the fault could not be found until assembled. As you are within 30 days of purchase you are entitled, I suggest, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, to a repair, replacement or full refund at your choice.

I have told them exactly what you have said but they are still refusing to give me a refund. I had to assemble the bed to make sure the gas lift mechanism worked on the ottoman it was the only way of telling if it actually worked. The headboard was cracked when I opened up the box it was in. They are trying to say that they terms and conditions state I have 15 days to complain and I am now out with their timeframe. I actually first reported the incident on 2nd January. I even tried calling over Christmas but they were closed

Hi Fiona – You have 30 days from receiving goods to reject them if they are faulty: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

Nothing in a company’s terms and conditions can reduce your statutory rights. A company that tries to mislead customers is breaking the law. It might help if you have a word with Citizens Advice and let the company know. Providing that there is a fault, the company must not charge for collection of the bed.

In my view you were entitled to assemble the bed in order to discover whether it functioned correctly. Maybe you should now simply dissemble it.

The Consumer Rights Act overrides the retailer’s conditions. Tell the retailer that unless they comply with their legal obligations you will commence legal proceedings. It may be that if you paid by credit card you can claim a refund off the provider on the basis that the retailer has been given the opportunity to remedy the situation but has refused.

You could, of course, enlist the help of Which? Legal. It would be useful, anyway, to have their comments here.

Hi Fiona,

I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced with your new bed.

I agree with malcolm r and wavechange.

In these circumstances the Consumer Rights Act 2015 implies an expectation for the bed to be of satisfactory quality and be fit for purpose. As you are within the first 30 days of delivery and you appear to be encountering faults with the bed then you can exercise your short term right to reject for the purposes of a full refund.

It makes no difference that the bed was assembled as long as you can prove that you would not have been able to discover some of the faults otherwise.

If you paid for the bed using a credit card and it was priced at above £100 then you may be able to claim against your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for a breach of contract.

I hope this information is of assistance. If you require tailored legal advice please get in contact with Which? Legal to explore your 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

..and apart from their vast experience they can send a template letter tailored precisely to your case. And that can work wonders.

Thanks everyone for your help and advice it’s really much appreciated. I have contacted trading standards and my bank and they are going g to raise a dispute for me against this company.

Thanks again everyone

Michiel Wouter Sebastiaan Schouten says:
16 January 2020

Good afternoon.
I hope someone can give us a bit of advice. We bought a kitchen in March that was fitted in April and May. So many things are wrong with it, it would take too much time to list them all. The main issue is the worktop. The worktop is made by Silestone. Before we bought this we had a look in several showrooms to see how these worktops are installed. We bought our worktop with Wickes who have a sub company that installs the worktops. The installation of our worktops does not look at all as we have seen in showrooms as Wickes installs them to their specifications and not as Silestone intends. The result is that the detailing looks horrible. There are big visible joints where we bought a quartz worktop so the joints would be “seamless”. Everything is joint together with silicon, in a colour that does not match the worktop at all.
We are pretty much at our wit’s end because Wickes is not prepared to do anything about this.
Is there a way that we can “make” Wickes remove our kitchen top and have the money refunded so we can ask another company to do it following Silestone their guidelines?
Any comments would be much appreciated!

Wickes are responsible for the final result, assuming you paid them to do both supply and install. “Quality” is one of the criteria they need to meet, together with “as described” which would cover what you have seen in their showrooms and brochures for example. So I would remind them of their legal obligations under the consumer rights act to bring the whole kitchen up to an acceptable level of quality, otherwise you will take legal action through the small claims route (that covers up to £10 000).

It would be useful to get a report from a professional kitchen installer on the quality of installation and the worktop in particular; worth a fee, I’d suggest. It would also be useful if Cosentino (Silestone) would give you a comment on the way their product has been installed, to see whether it is incorrect and not as they instruct installers. This search brings up their installation manual as a .pdf – “installation instructions silestone quartz”.

I suggest subscribing to Which? Legal for advice. This case may be complicated by a delay in taking action.

I get the impression Michiel has already been pursuing this for some time, without a result. If the installation is faulty, that would be from new so, I would suggest, at the minimum repair or replace as a remedy applies under the Consumer Rights Act. I agree that Which? Legal would be a useful ally.

Hi Michiel – I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time with your new kitchen.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, all products should match the description and samples shown to you at the point of purchase.

It is the trader’s responsibility to fix the issue, but if they aren’t willing to engage with you, there are a few other ways you can try to resolve this.

The first is reporting the issue to the Consumer Ombudsman, who deal with complaints about home maintenance and improvement: https://www.ombudsman-services.org/consumer-ombudsman-redirect

You can also visit the Ombudsman Association to find another home-improvement related one, and contact your local Trading Standards, who sometimes offer conciliation services.

If you can’t resolve the issue this way, it may be time to take legal action, or start court proceedings, though this should always be used as a last resort.

It’s important that you keep all evidence in case it gets to this stage (e.g photographs, records of correspondence).

You can find more advice on how to complain about building work here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-complain-if-youre-unhappy-with-building-work

I hope this helps and you’re able to resolve your issue soon.

Christine Smart says:
16 January 2020

TUI holiday complaint
So this happened in Tui today !! I always book with them and have always had brilliant service with there employees . However I actually feel that their website and advertising breaks all of the rules about consumer law and advertising ! Is there anybody who could advise please and how I take my complaint forward . this is what happened

Today went on line to book a holiday with tui. The holiday was advertised at £414 . Decided to go into store to book as I’m not very computer savvy . They said they could price match to the website . Even though the holiday was a £100 pp more in store . We agreed the sale . We paid on a card and we were given a receipt . Went to confirm the details and enter our names into the system to be told the holiday had gone up by £280 . Made it clear I was unhappy but they said there was nothing they could do . They said it was because it was a live website, prices change ( when we went back on our phones it was still advertised at £414 my argument was so not live ) I used an analogy that went like this . “That is like going to a store buying an item of clothing paying for it at the till and before you leave the store , they tell you you owe another £20 as the item has gone up in price . I’m no expert but I did study consumer law some years ago and I I was under the impression there were strict laws about consumer law . . I made it clear I was very unhappy , the holiday has gone up in price they said so you would have expected it to have gone up on the website , but that had not happened it was still advertised at £414 .. I tried to book it on line but it again went up as you checked out , but this time only by £180 that’s a £100 cheeper . SO IS THIS LEGAL ??? or is it misrepresentation . Unfair advertising ! Any Facebook friends had this happen using TUI . I feel so upset I want to take this further . They said we hadn’t completed as they hadn’t taken our details but we had paid and have a receipt

I’ve been locked out of my Gmail email account after changing ISP a few days ago

Gmail refuses to recognise me as the account owner. I’m entering the correct password, but it keeps telling me it doesn’t recognise me as the account owner

Any suggestions?

Should I contact a consumer rights lawyer? And who, which firm, if yes?

Hi wev, sorry to hear about this.

Do you have either a current mobile phone number or a second recovery email address registered with your Gmail account?

Without those credentials, it can be difficult to recover a Gmail account.

Only a few days ago, I think Roger P posted on here to say someone in Poland was attempting to login to his Gmail – but Google’s security prevented that, because the miscreant concerned could not produce a further authentication factor. So, unfortunately, you may now be seeing the other side of that coin.

I’m also surprised that your changes of ISP has triggered this, because I do login in to my Gmail from a number of different locations and devices, so I’m not always using the same ISP or IP address.

Lee says:
Today 11:27

Hi there. I’ve been having an issue with my new Google phone provided to me through a contract with three. I reported having issues with network connectivity within six months of having the device. Within this time frame a three employee looked at the phone and confirmed the issue is with the phone. Not the network.

Google have told me that I would need to send the phone back to them for repair or replacement. However the time frame is 5-10 days for this and I cannot be without my phone for that length of time due to work.

Three have told me that since they have no testing facility the phone must be sent to google and the best they can do is credit my account with £50 to get a phone in the interim. However this solution isn’t suitable either as I doubt I could purchase a phone with the capabilities I require for that price.

Is it possible for me to ask for my money back or a more immediate replacement from three?