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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.

Robin Duke says:
20 May 2019

I bought a gazebo which stated that the size was 10 x 10. When it arrived it said 10 x 10 on the box. When I measured the external footprint it was 8 ft 10 inches. The supplier says that 10 x 10 is the external measurement including the roof overhang. as the gazebo is too small I want to return it as “Not as described”. The supplier wants to charge £50 fee. I believe this is wrong

Did the gazebo measure 10′ x 10′ including the roof overhang? Some gazebos have an overhang beyond the legs and the overall size is quoted, 3mx3m say as in this example, with 2.5m between legs. https://www.houseoftents.co.uk/Garden-Gazebos/300045.html

The link provided by Malcolm shows the internal and external sizes in ‘Details & Sizes’. If Robin’s gazebo did not provide this information on the box or website then it would be worth pushing for the retailer to waive the fee for collecting the goods assuming that it was not clear what the sizes referred to.

I brought a washing machine from John Lewis 3 months ago, 2 weeks ago at the end of the cycle I opened the door and smoke was billowing out. They arranged for an engineer to look at it and have said it was a faulty motor, I am really unhappy and have asked for a refund or replacement but they are only willing to fix it. Do I have any rights,, had we not been at home it would have set on fire. 🙁

I can well understand your concern, Tracy. Since the washing machine is over 30 days old you are too late to reject it and claim a refund, but you can claim a replacement or repair, since the fault is presumed to have been present at the time of manufacture in the first six months. For a washing machine, replacement would probably be seen as ‘disproportionately expensive’ compared with a repair, so the retailer would probably want you to accept the repair. I suggest you write a polite letter asking for a replacement because of your distress. If John Lewis will not provide a replacement it might be worth contacting the manufacturer, even though they have no legal obligation. Best of luck.

Please follow the advice of the fire services and don’t leave a washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher on when out of the house or overnight.

As I understand the CRA 2015 after 30 days and up to 6 months from delivery your options are a repair or replacement. If one is more economic than the other then the trader can provide that – as in your case this is a repair. The trader can only have one attempt at repair; if it fails you can choose a further repair or a replacement.

If you have lost faith in the appliance in view of the nature of the failure you could approach JL for a goodwill gesture to offer a different an appliance of a different make.

Given Tracey’s circumstances, if a so-called “engineer” has already visited to inspect the machine, it is shame that a repair could not have been carried out during the same visit.

As a keen blundering amateur computer technician, if I go to look at a problem with a computer, I’ll usually do my best to go tooled up with parts and tools that might be needed for a fix.

If so persuaded, I’ll also tackle washers and dryers too. I did once look into changing a motor on a friend’s Beko. However the retail price of a new motor was not much less than the cost of a new replacement machine. So, given the effort needed to change the motor and the risk that the motor might not have been the root cause of the fault, it then made much more sense to just replace the machine.

John Lewis will always try the repair option first. I had to resort to the manufacturer for evidence that a fault was present at the time of purchase. It was only then they agreed to a replacement TV.

If you have paid for a brand new appliance you should expect it to be in full working order for at least 6 months, so I fail to understand why anyone would want to opt to have a faulty one repaired when they are given the preferred choice of a new replacement. A new faulty machine will always have a certain `stigma` attached to it in the mindset of its owner that doesn’t go away even after it has been repaired.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (guidance) tells traders: “The consumer may opt for either a repair or a replacement, but if the one that the consumer chooses is disproportionately costly to you compared to the other, or it is impossible, they will have to accept the other option. For example, if a consumer asks for a replacement of an expensive tablet PC worth £500, but a repair would only cost £50, the consumer would have to accept a repair instead.

If that is the case then the trader can accept the return of the faulty machine, have it repaired and sell it on either as new or second hand at minimal loss provided of course there is sufficient evidence it was faulty at the time of purchase.

Failing to comply with a consumers right in law to choose between a repair or replacement by using loopholes to avoid doing so is in my opinion unethical practice and does not add to a traders reputation in a very competitive marketplace.

Hi Tracey. As others have kindly pointed out, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will apply here:


This sounds like a huge safety issue – would you mind telling us the full make and model of the machine?

The CRA gives the trader the option of repairing the product for the original customer if that is less costly than a replacement. I don’t see this as a loophole at all, simply what the law says. Other solutions would depend upon the goodwill of the trader. If a failure occurs within the first 6 months it is presumed, in law, to have had a fault existing at the time purchase.

George – Unlike many who post about problems with goods, Tracy is a registered user and presumably has provided an email address. Hopefully she will post details of the faulty machine here, but I presume she could be contacted by Which? Another alternative would be for Tracy to send details to: conversation.comments@which.co.uk

She could indeed. I’d like to give her the opportunity to reply here first, as this is the platform she chose to contact us on, however if she doesn’t get back to us then I will drop her an email, as this is indeed a serious issue.

Thanks George.

If the trader insists on a repair and the consumer has requested a replacement then the consumers choice in law has effectively been taken away. In my case I flatly refused to accept a repair until JL agreed to replace it, stating I had in fact contacted the manufacturer who admitted a faulty batch had been sent out from their warehouse.

Tracey has not only been supplied an appliance with a manufacturers fault but also one that is obviously damaged, unsafe and unfit for purpose and she needs to stand her ground and insist on a replacement if that is her choice.

I agree with your last sentence if the appliance has been damaged by the motor fault.

However, this is what the Act says:
“23 Right to repair or replacement
(1)This section applies if the consumer has the right to repair or replacement (see section 19(3) and (4)).

(2)If the consumer requires the trader to repair or replace the goods, the trader must—
(a)do so within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, and
(b)bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so (including in particular the cost of any labour, materials or postage).

(3)The consumer cannot require the trader to repair or replace the goods if that remedy (the repair or the replacement)—
(a)is impossible, or
(b)is disproportionate compared to the other of those remedies.

(4)Either of those remedies is disproportionate compared to the other if it imposes costs on the trader which, compared to those imposed by the other, are unreasonable, taking into account—
(a)the value which the goods would have if they conformed to the contract,
(b)the significance of the lack of conformity, and
(c)whether the other remedy could be effected without significant inconvenience to the consumer.

The right to a repair or replacement is the remedy but the choice is dictated by the above. The right to a refund, repair or replacement at the customer’s choice lasts for the first 30 days.

The legislation is designed to be fair to both sides. If a trivial fault occurred in the first 6 months that could be easily and relatively cheaply fixed with no detriment to the product and customers opted for a replacement instead that would seem unfair on the retailer, and not common sense. Also very wasteful of resources in a world that needs to be more responsible about what it discards.

If enough evidence is presented that an appliance was faulty at the point of purchase then a replacement like for like, I wouldn’t consider that in any way was disproportionate.

In the first 30 days that is the option. after that it is repair or replace. Simply what the law says. Retailers can clearly offer better than that if they wish. I had a particularly good response from Hotpoint – yes, them – and JL when a fridge freezer failed after a little over 3 years. I suggested it was not reasonably durable and it was replaced foc with a total of a 5 year warranty.

Donna Miller says:
21 May 2019

I bought a hoover from Asda I’m april 19 and the handle snapped off I returned it with the receipt but because one of the attachments is not in the box they won’t accept the return even though I have the receipt. Can they do this the product is not fit for purpose and is broken. Regardless of the small brush being missing

It seems unreasonable. What happened to the small brush?

Donna, that sounds unusually officious.

My local Asda and Sainsbury’s stores generally accept product returns without even opening the boxes to check that the main product is inside, never mind all the accompanying bits and bobs.

It may be that, in principle, defective/broken products might be repairable to be sold on – either as repaired from the store or through e.g. ebay. They would want a complete product to do this.

I took an electric lawn rake back to B&Q that I’d used for my lawns but most of the spring tines had broken, and there were no spares with it. It was not expensive. They took the product back, didn’t open the box, and offered me a refund. I used that towards a better machine that they had available (it works fine, no breakages and came with spares).

Viktor says:
21 May 2019

Hello to all.
I bought the receiver Denon 6300 in October 2017. In March of this year, the receiver broke down. Warranty repairs were made at an authorized Denon service center. The other day I received the receiver back from the service and within the first day the receiver broke again. The warranty on the receiver is 2 years old until October 2019. I told the seller that I wanted an exchange for a new receiver and did not want to repair it again. The seller offers only repair again. Tell me, is it obligatory to exchange a product for a new one after the first unsuccessful warranty repair is possible only up to 6 months? Or can I insist on the exchange?

This is from guidance for business and presents the information about a customer’s rights under the Consumer Rights Act in terms that are easy to understand:

Price reduction & the final right to reject

If repair or replacement is not available or is unsuccessful, or is not provided within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, then the consumer can claim a price reduction or reject the goods.

Where repair or replacement fail, are not available, or were not provided within a reasonable time and without causing significant inconvenience to the consumer, the consumer chooses whether to keep the goods or return them. If they keep the goods, then their claim will be for a reduction in price; if they return them, they are rejecting them.

A price reduction must be an appropriate amount, which will depend on all the circumstances of the claim. It can be any amount up to the whole price.

If the consumer rejects the goods, they are entitled to a refund. This refund may be reduced to take account of any use the consumer has had from the goods. However, no deduction can be made for the consumer having the goods simply because the trader has delayed in collecting them. Nor can a deduction be made where goods are rejected within six months of supply, except where the goods are a motor vehicle.. From: https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/goods/the-sale-and-supply-of-goods#Repairorreplacement

You are entitled to a refund but you are unlikely to have the full purchase price refunded. It might be worth pushing for a full refund as a matter of goodwill or failing that, on the basis you seem to have been given false information. Accepting a second repair is worth considering because you would not be left out of pocket and in my experience, retailers often replace goods that they accept for repair.

The two year guarantee you mention is a manufacturer’s guarantee, which is in addition to your statutory rights. The terms & conditions will provide details of the cover.

It would be interesting to hear how you get on with your claim, Viktor.

The repair or replace option in the Consumer Rights Act applies for the first 6 months. After that you have to prove the product was faulty at the time of purchase to invoke the repair/replace option (down the the retailer to choose if one is disproportionate to the other). Otherwise there is no legal remedy – except “durability”; it has not lasted as long as is reasonable and that should require action from the retailer.

Note that “faulty” does not necessarily mean a physical fault. It is a failure to meet the contract terms listed in the CRA.

However you are claiming under warranty so I’d suggest you see what the terms are. If another repair is likely to fix the problem then I’d suggest you get the seller to warranty the repair – you don’t want it to last until October and then expire. After that, given the relatively quick failure, I’d suggest it would be quite reasonable of you to claim the product was faulty from new (even if it were down to a poor quality component) and, if necessary, make a CRA claim.

Peter says:
Today 06:38

Hi I bought an expensive E-bike/mountain bike in December (5 month ago)
On the weekend I went for my usual local ride.
Halfway through the ride a part of the rear frame (seat stay) snapped !
Cutting my ride short, the bike is now not usuable.
The frame has a 2 year warranty from the manufacturer.
The issue I’ve had is the dealer who I bought the bike off (online/over the phone) is in the south of England & I’m in the north. They are saying they no longer an authorised dealer of this make of bike !

I’ve contacted the manufacturer with no reply as yet.
Had I of known the seller was no longer a dealer I would never of purchased from them !
Where do I stand ?

I purchased outright by credit card.

I believe that whether they are now an authorised dealer or not is irrelevant. You purchased from them, so your contract is with them and they are responsible for dealing with your problem. However, your alternative is to deal with the manufacturer under the terms of the warranty if this does not disadvantage you.

The Consumer Rights Act gives the options of repair or replace up to 6 months as it is presumed the fault was present when you purchased the bike. The seller would have to prove otherwise – misuse, damage for example – to contest the claim.

If all else fails you can claim on your credit card.

Richard says:
Today 11:32

I recently purchased some flooring from an online company, the flooring was subsequently delivered to my home to following day. As i, the purchaser was at work, my heavily pregnant wife was there to receive the delivery. During the delivery my wife called me to say that a portion of the delivery was damaged, but has been delivered by the driver and she has signed his delivery document. When i checked the goods upon my return from work ( 6 hours later) i was apparent that there was a significant amount of flooring damaged. I contacted the seller only to be dismissed by them advising that there TnCs state, unless the delivery document is signed for and marked as ‘damaged’ they are not liable at all to replace the goods.
Is this the case? i know their TnCs state it but, at no point did the delivery driver inform my wife this is the case and instruct her to follow this procedure – there is also NO reference on the document that determines if the goods are damaged to tick a box , or even if the goods are in 100% condition.. it does not differentiate so i am not convinced this is meeting consumer rights?

Wendy Holmes says:
Today 12:02

Hi all, Wonder if anyone could give me some advice. I purchase some vertical blinds. Salesman came to measure up, and I agreed to purchase four blinds with cords not wands. When they arrived to fit the blinds, they supplied blinds with wands. Also one of the blinds was supposed to be 4080 wide, and corded on the right, and split in the middle. The firm supplied 2 x 2040 blinds with wands, both opening to the right, so I have a stack of blinds in the middle of a 4 window span. This is not what I ordered, Whereby the blinds work fine, they are not corded, and therefore not what I ordered. The shop says they will change one of the 2040 blinds around, so it opens to the left, so I have a full view through the 4 pane window, but will not change them to corded. I have the invoice from them which shows the blinds I ordered, and sizes, but it does not say corded, however it does clearly show one blind is 4080 wide, and with a rhc and split in the middle. – where do I stand please regarding “as described”

Ian Kennedy says:
Today 15:24

Hi, I took out a magazine subscription a year ago through the company Bauer Media. I was under the impression this was a 1 year subscription as I signed up for a 12 issue offer. I have just had a further year’s subscription charged to my account, however. I did not receive any information stating the subscription was due to be renewed to allow me to cancel. On contacting Bauer Media they state I opted for the continuous card payment option, which I dispute, and they do not offer refunds. I have raised the above points and requested a refund again, but without success. How can I best proceed in order to cancel this subscription and obtain a refund?

Thanks in advance for your advice.