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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

We bought a kitchen from Wickes in June 2019. Installation was delayed due to late delivery of the worktops. When the worktops we’re installed it was immediately apparent that they weren’t flat. In fact they were bowed considerably which was particularly obvious on the island unit. This led to poor joins with ridges which were perfect for attracting dirt.
We complained to Wickes who sent the fitters out to look. The fitters agreed they were bowed and Wickes agreed to reorder all the worktops. These arrived just before lockdown and have laid flat on the garage floor ever since. The fitter has been to review the job of replacement and told us that the new worktops are not flat either and should not be fitted. Again we have complained to Wickes. This time they came out. Agreed that they are not useable. They have encouraged us to choose something else. In order to maintain the look that we want for the new kitchen, and keep the under worktop lighting we have no choice but to move up the price range. We are faced now with a bill of £2500 which includes a ‘goodwill’ discount from Wickes of £265 in order to replace the worktops with some that are fit for purpose. This feels huge when the original worktops only cost £1300.

Hi, I bought a cooker in November 2019. The element went in April 2020, which the manufacturer repaired under the 2 year warranty. The element now gone again, the manufacturer are saying that I have to accept a repair. Is this the case as I would like a replacement as this seems to be an inherent fault?

I suspect you have just been very unlucky for the same part to fail twice. As long as you are not being charged for the repair I suggest you allow the company to replace the element again. With better luck this one could last for many years.

My girlfriend has had to replace the main oven element in her Beko cooker twice in the last 6 years or so. Thankfully, both genuine Beko and pattern replacements are readily available online and only cost about £20-£30 to buy.

To me, the low price suggests that a high volume are sold, which suggests that these do fail quite often. Replacing the element is also a relatively simple job, for anyone who is competent to use simple hand tools and to work on domestic mains appliances.

The cooker here cost about £350 when new and was the least expensive one that we could find with a nice creamic hob. Hence a £30 part with inexpensive fitting makes for an economically viable repair. Also, that initial price was roughly twice what we’d typically pay for an inexpensive washing machine and where most critical failures are not likely to be economically repaired.

Lisa, I agree with wavechange’s advice.

The warranty should be specific about what the manufacturer offers. However a warranty is overridden by your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. As I understand it if you follow this route, as the fault would be regarded as present from new, you could keep the cooker with a price reduction as compensation, accept another repair, or return it for a refund that would be subject to a deduction for use.

You might get a better outcome, perhaps, by discussing the problem with the manufacturer and stress the inconvenience caused by loss of use during two failed repairs.

Otherwise, if it is simply an element I would give them another chance to replace it – they are normally robust – but perhaps ask them to agree that if this repair fails (within 6 months, say) you would want the cooker replaced. You never know.

I agree that it would be worth asking the company to agree to providing a replacement if a second replacement fails, Malcolm.

It’s possible that Lisa is referring to the element in a self-cleaning oven. If so, these operate at very high temperatures and that is likely to reduce the life and also increase the chance of breakage of the door glass. I’ve never had a self-cleaning oven but would not use the feature if I did.

My advice to Samantha would be to first press for a refund, do some research online and look for a brand of fridge that is not owned by Whirlpool.

My 10.56 comment should have followed Malcolms @ 09.50 to continue the relevant thread.

Anthony Steven Binns says:
18 September 2020

I purchased a smartwatch from an English company the watch was faulty it would stay synchronized to my phone it kept desynchronizing and would stay connected I sent it back to the supplier who sent me a replacement but is doing exactly the same thing. do I have to accept another watch or can I demand a refund

Hi Anthony – If the first watch never worked properly then you should be able to claim a full refund: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

It is odd that two watches should show the same problem, so it would be worth carrying out a couple of checks in case there is another problem:

1. Test the with another phone.

2. If the watch and phone remain synchronised outdoors, you could have a source of interference at home.

Anyone help on this one?

Purchased a power driven lawn mower in April 2020. 5 months later wheels no longer power driven. We assume the belt drive has come off or broken.
Company state the belt is not covered under the manufacture warrant.
However they have now sent a step by step guide of how to get to the belt.
This entails removing the blade and casings etc, so I have posed the question what happens if this causes damage or items are broken whilst removing the same. They have said this is unlikely but would have to reassess should this occur.

I am reluctant to start dismantling the mower on this basis and combined with the fact I now need to go and buy a torque wrench etc.

Have I got any consumer rights at all or have they just shown what a total shambles of a company they are with very little customer care policies?

Thanks with long grass!

John

I’d suggest that if the mower has been used domestically the drive should not fail after 5 months. The danger would be that if you try to fix it you may invalidate the warranty. I’d suggest the mower was not fit for purpose under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and should be fixed either under warranty or, as required by the act, repaired by the retailer unless they can demonstrate that it has been subject to misuse.

Hi John – Here is advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product The fact that the mower failed within six months of purchase is important because under the Consumer Right Act, mentioned by Malcolm, faults during this time are presumed to be present at the time of manufacture. Legally, the responsibility lies with the retailer, even though they are often keen to refer customers to the manufacturer, only to be told how to tackle a job that could be challenging.

A manufacturer’s guarantee can exclude service components such as belts, but cannot diminish your statutory rights under the CRA. It is unreasonable that a belt should fail within such a short time.

I am assuming that your self-propelled mower is petrol powered. Unless you know for sure that there is a problem with the belt, there may be a different problem with the drive, and the possibilities will depend on the design of mower. If you want to have a peek underneath, disconnect the spark plug and tip the mower backwards or sideways with the carburettor upwards to prevent oil contaminating the air filter.

You could pay for advice from Which? Legal but mentioning your rights under the CRA to the retailer should help you to get a free repair.

You can, of course, look up the Consumer Rights Act 2015 legislation but I find this a very useful guide document. I don’t know whether Which? reference it anywhere but I think they should. The intro would have been a good place?
https://www.businesscompanion.info/sites/default/files/CRA-Goods-Guidance-for-Business-Sep-2015.pdf

Molly Rimmer says:
19 September 2020

My £600 Dyson vacuum cleaner died, still within its warranty and under a year old. I can’t get through to their customer services on the phone, (over an hour waiting time everytime I try, which I can’t spare) and Curry’s where I bought it from say they can’t help and that I have to talk to Dyson in person to arrange a repair or for them to write it off and allow them to refund me. I think as I bought it off them and they are the only people I can contact that they should either replace the vacuum or arrange a repair with Dyson. Please advise what I should do!

Hi Molly – Currys have been playing this game for a long time and I decided not to use them twenty years ago when they insisted that I contact Miele when I had a problem with a vacuum cleaner. Following the closure of Comet I have reluctantly started using Currys again because it’s that or having to buy online, and I do like to see products before purchase if possible.

The last time I had a problem with a product purchased in Currys I took it back to the store and was told that I must contact Humax, the manufacturer. I pointed out that it was the responsibility of Currys, the retailer, to deal with the problem. After speaking to two people the store manager was summoned and he said that I would be contacted when the product had been repaired. I had to chase Currys but received a new replacement Freeview box.

Please be polite and persistent and I’m sure you will win, Molly.