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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
Gill jackman says:
27 October 2019

My husband had bought me an eternity ring in December 2018. I have only worn it about half a dozen times and only on special occasions, the last time I wore it was in September 2019 for dinner, I looked down at it and noticed that one of the diamonds was missing. I returned it to the shop and the assistant also told me that another diamond was loose, she said that it could be returned to the manufacturers to assess whether it was caused by damage on my behalf or whether it was faulty. I have just heard back and they say it was caused by accidental damage by me, as well as the chip on the other loose diamond. There is no damage to the channel setting at all so I have disputed that this was caused by me, in fact I categorically know that it was not caused by me and I think they should repair it free of charge. They are trying to charge me £320 for the repair but have now said they will reduce it to £220. I am so annoyed, how can I damage/ chip 2 diamonds at positions 7 & 9 without damaging the 8th diamond or the setting?
Can anyone advise me what to do next?

I’ve been told by a manufacturing company that an electrical item I bought new last year from an online seller, which became faulty last week, isn’t covered by the manufacturer’s 2 year warranty, and that I’ll have to pay near £100 to have it repaired

I started using it 8 months ago

When I get it back, it will only be covered by a 90 day manufacturer’s warranty, despite the item originally being worth £700 when it first came out in the shops

I think the Consumer Rights Act says items must have reasonable durability and life comparable to how much it was worth and how well made it was, but how clear is it about such things and is there room for improvement?

The item in question was suppose to be a high quality, well made thing that lasts for years. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect it to last longer than 8 months. But since I didn’t buy it from an authorised retailer, the manufacturer says I’m not covered by their 2 year warranty. Are they right?

And does the Consumer Rights Act cover this?

Does any law talk about repaired and refurbished items?

This is what guidance (to the trader) to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 has to say about warranties:
12. Guarantees
There is no requirement under the Act to offer a guarantee alongside goods. But if you – or the manufacturer – opt to provide a guarantee without extra charge, that if stated or advertised specifications are not met then the price will be reimbursed or goods will be repaired, replaced or otherwise handled, that guarantee is legally binding.
If this type of guarantee is provided, it must meet certain requirements. These are that it must:
 be written in plain, intelligible language and, if the goods are offered in the UK, in English,
 include the name and address of the guarantor,
 state that the consumer has statutory rights (under the Consumer Rights Act) regarding the goods, and that these rights are not affected by the guarantee,
 state the duration and territorial scope of the guarantee, and
 be made available to the consumer in writing and within a reasonable time.

From what you have said, wev, I can see no reason how the manufacturer can opt out of a written guarantee that has been given to you when you bought the goods. However, I think your first course of action is against the person with whom you made the contract when you purchased – the online trader.

Hopefully Which? can clarify the situation?
Some info here https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/my-warranty-provider-wont-honour-the-warranty-what-can-i-do

I suggest you ignore the manufacturer completely, wev. If the online seller says you must deal with the manufacturer, they are breaking the law, since they are responsible for handling any claims under the guarantee or the Consumer Rights Act. There is no legal requirement to provide a guarantee but if one is provided it forms part of the contract and cannot be changed.

It’s worth logging the information you are given including names and dates in case this is needed to support your case. I suggest you are polite and persistent but if that does not work you could subscribe to Which? Legal for advice.

Unfortunately the seller I bought it from has gone out of business

So I can’t ignore the manufacturer. They’re the only ones who can repair it

And they seem to be saying, since the seller wasn’t authorised to sell it, I bought it without a warranty

Shirley says:
29 October 2019

Morning, I purchased a new pizza stone in June 2018, used it a few times but everything was sticking so contact the supplier in May 2019, they agreed to have a look at the grid and exchange this for me if there was a manufacturing fault but I forgot about it until now October 2019, they are now telling me that because I left it was so long it is now out of the time period and that there is a 30 day period from the day of the first contact to resolve the issue. Is this correct and am I still entitled to get an exchange. Would really like your advise on this one as soon as possible please as I am running out of patience. Thanks

I don’t know what the likely life of a pizza stone should be, and they probably vary in quality and durability across different makes, but my view is that unless it was a particularly expensive one you would be unlikely to get more than a small refund [or an unsatisfactory replacement] even if you pursued the case to exhaustion.

To assert your consumer rights you need to pursue them assiduously in a timely manner and, unfortunately, failing to follow up the company’s offer to examine the stone and consider whether or not there had been a manufacturing fault has left you in a weaker position. You have now had the product for 16 months and you would need to prove that there was a manufacturing fault in order to claim a full refund or replacement [repair not being an option in this case]. For this you would need an independent examination report. I feel you would now be better off buying a new one, but choose with care to avoid the same problem.

Tracy says:
29 October 2019

We’ve had a tap fitted that’s obviously faulty as 3 months in and the tap handle fell off. The company that we bought it through and fitted it said that we would have to pay for a new tap to be fitted (they’ll cover the cost of a replacement tap if they believe it’s faulty). Do we have to pay for the fitting?

I don’t think the position is entirely clear, Tracy, but I would certainly challenge it since the purpose of the Consumer Rights Act is to enable people to be put in the situation they would have been in had the goods they bought not been faulty, and if that includes an element of dismantling and refitting as in the case of a tap then that is the supplier’s liability. A tap with a broken handle is not fit for purpose and the purchaser should not be inconvenienced on account of that. Since the same company that sold the tap fitted it, I think you have a strong case to require them to replace the tap at their entire expense. They should sort out any consequential losses with the manufacturers.

John, I believe this is correct. A trader providing a product and a service, such as supplying and fitting a tap, is responsible for remedying the whole package at no cost nor unreasonable inconvenience to the customer. Unless, of course, they can show the tap has been abused. The fault, if there is one, is presumed to have been present from new as it has happened within the first 6 months from delivery / installation.

Just one tiny note of caution: Did you engage in a “supply and fit” contract? If so the advice is spot on. However, did you buy the part and then ask for it to be fitted? If so, even if you bought it from the same establishment, technically you supplied the part to be fitted and may struggle a bit.

If you engage in “supply and fit”, the merchant needs to add a bit to the part price to cover the eventuality of it needing a warranty swap out. This is usually done by the merchant obtaining trade price and charging retail – but if you went and bought it over a trade counter you won’t have “bought” the swap-out warranty. Hope that makes sense.

The problem is the initial statement that the tap handle fell off . No mention of the handle being broken. Tap handles are usually kept in position be a small screw , this positioned below the H or C indices cover cap which is removable . I cannot conceive how such a small fault as replacing and tightening the screw escalates to having to replace the tap

You have a point Curmudgeon ,as someone who has replaced those tiny screws many times they do work themselves loose.
But are we talking about one of those plastic caps I don’t like ?–now that’s a different matter.

We don’t know what type of tap Tracy bought but within a short time of installation the handle fell off. The tap was therefore broken even if in strict technical terms the handle was not broken.

If the fault is as simple as might be supposed then the company should not be making life difficult by insisting on Tracy paying for refitting the tap; they should just go round and do it. It is possible that the problem is more complicated than a dodgy screw.

I bought a kitchen from a major retailer and also used their fitters, who are subcontractors, to install the kitchen. It was a stressful experience because the fitters turned up when they felt like it for the first few weeks, made up lots of excuses etc. It took 3 weeks longer than it should have but the kitchen so far is ok and still standing.

The retailer offered a good-will gesture and covered the expenses they wanted to, which is less than 4% of what I paid. It is a non negotiable amount and is basically take it or leave it. I also paid a significant amount to the subcontractors for the “specialist works” i.e. installing electrical goods separately.

The retailers terms and conditions says “all dates and times we specify for commencement and completion of work is an estimate only. Time for performance shall not be made of the essence by notice.” I should have paid more attention to the contract from the beginning but is that term fair?. It feels like I have very little rights and am at the mercy of the retailer. I feel the service I had paid for and how it was portrayed was not delivered in the way I expected or in the timeframe. I know I am much luckier than others who have had months of delays and/or badly fitted kitchens. Any advice or anyone else with the same experience?

First, was your kitchen supplier a member of the KBSA [Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom Specialists Association? It is a trade body with no official regulatory powers but does lay down certain standards on its members and can assist with dispute resolution. If so, it might be worth looking at their website and seeing if the organisation can help in your case.

On the question of completion performance, there are a lot of variables and uncertainties in kitchen fitting and companies generally protect themselves against being held to specific dates. The clause “Time for performance shall not be made of the essence by notice” sounds curious because the usual term is “Time shall not be (made) the essence of the contract” – and that might have alerted you to the contingency for the job to overrun considerably. I would not go so far as to say the term is entirely fair but it might not be unfair from a legal point of view.

The amount of overrun becomes the turning point on which any remedy would depend. Were good reasons given for the delays? Did you object at any point? While the firm might believe it had an open-ended contract it was still required to undertake the job within a reasonable timescale broadly in line with any forecast given when they accepted the work. There could be a case of misrepresenting the time it would take in order to secure the contract. The installers were also required to exercise due diligence and professional management of the work to deliver satisfactory performance.

It will be important to check whether there was any contractual tie between the company who sold the kitchen components and the installation firm. Was their performance underwritten by the supplier, or in any way supervised in terms of progress and performance?

I am not sure what the retailer’s “goodwill gesture” represents. Does the supply agreement [if any] specify a particular level of liability and state that that will be the absolute limit of their liability? Another question that could arise is whether the installers were actually sub-contractors to the retailer or merely a firm who they had introduced to you without any liability and who you might wish to engage at your own risk.

I feel that you probably need to give notice to the installation firm that you intend to take legal proceedings against them and request them to negotiate a reasonable settlement with you on account of the delay, disruption, inconvenience, loss of full kitchen facilities for an extended period, and additional stress [kitchen refits are stressful enough without added complications].

You need to consider what remedy you are actually looking for now. You might have a particular financial remedy in mind or something like an extra feature, fitting or appliance that would be easier for the installer to provide than a monetary settlement. If you keep your demands reasonable, negotiate diplomatically and correspond carefully in the manner of your comment above then it will improve your chances of reaching a satisfactory outcome without too much obstruction. Bear in mind that you need to end up feeling pleased with your new kitchen not burdened by acrimony and despicion; after all, you have to live with it every day for a long time to come.

The retailer is Wickes and they are not a member of KBSA.

The full paragraph reads: “Any dates and times we specify for commencement and completion of the Installation works are an estimate only. Cancellation of any specialist works may also delay the commencement and completion of the Installation works. We shall not be liable if we do not carry out the Installation works on or at any particular date or time. Time for performance shall not be made of the essence by notice.”

The contract for the Installation works (fitting of units) is with Wickes but the specialist works (plumbing, electrics , tiling etc) is a separate contract with the fitter. There is a workmanship guarantee on the kitchen for 2 years. There is nothing about performance of the fitters or any liability in the contract although I know they are monitored/supervised by the Installation managers at Wickes. When I raised issues I was having with the fitters, it was escalated to the Installation managers.

There were no reasons for the delay other than the fitter failed to turn up on many days and did not provide reasons why, nor did he tell me in advance when he wouldn’t be working. He also didn’t respond to my messages or pick up my calls and made lots of excuses when he did eventually turn up (food poisoning, broken down van, broken phone, bad back etc) to the point I didn’t know what to believe. I wasn’t expecting everything to go smoothly, but I wasn’t expecting to have to deal with this type of behaviour, which I thought I was avoiding by using their fitters.

I know contracts aren’t designed to be favourable for the customer but this one provides no redress. I guess it’s a lesson learned for next time, which will be a very long time after this experience.

KS TP posters are saying the same and another guy with a fitted kitchen which went badly wrong gives this good advice -quote-
If you are going for a wickes kitchen do not attempt to install with a non appointed kitchen fitter as it seems to me they do not seem to care if you are not paying the cost of their fitters, also beware of the designers in store they are react really badly when you tell them their designs are flawed and offer no help whatsoever. In hindsight I wish I had chosen a different company as Wickes just do not seem to give a damn when there are problems.

In fairness some people were very happy with their service ( 3.5 stars ) but when it went wrong it was badly wrong , it also seems to be about what branch you are dealing with and how you get on with the designer Chippenham branch gets good write ups–two females were very happy with the service there run by a female designer who is good at listening and getting things done..

KS – Notwithstanding any limitations in the contract [which could possibly be unfair contract terms and not enforceable] you still have the right to a proper and professionally organised installation service and I think you should now escalate your complaint above branch level to head office.

I believe your case is strengthened because you used a Wickes-appointed or approved installer; the company must therefore accept some responsibility for delays and inconvenience outside their purported contract exclusions. If you had been dealing with a trader selected and contracted entirely by yourself then Wickes could not be expected to deal with any fitting problems but in your case you placed your faith in Wickes and they let you down. I have assumed throughout that you paid Wickes for the complete service and were not invoiced separately by the installer.

I paid Wickes for the dry fit and paid the installer separately for additional works (electrics, plumbing, tiling, flooring etc). I have been corresponding with their customer relations team at head office. They have offered £250 as good will and to cover expenses, which is a take it or leave it, or go to third party. I had asked for £300 (half of it to cover expenses) which I thought was reasonable. I guess I have to decide whether to accept or go to an ombudsman. In all consideration, the amount is hardly anything compared to the thousands I spent. It’s more about what it represents so I have to figure out if I’m happy to settle.

Amanda Davies says:
31 October 2019

Had daughters wedding at a venue. Which had many failings. Lack of Food being the main, lack of staff some were rude. Failing to keep timings poor service. They have admitted to the failings but compensation is an insult for what went wrong on such a special day have been in contact with them in person and writing/ email and letter. Last off was as week ago no response as yet. Seven days left.

We bought a 2nd hand car from a major dealership on Sunday 27th October and less than 12 hours later it was in flames with my husband inside. We returned to the dealership that morning and they agreed to refund our money, however 24 hours later we had an email from their lawyers saying they need to investigate the reason for the fire before they give a refund. Can they withhold the refund whilst they investigate, especially after the initial agreement of providing a refund?

RS from the date of purchase , if the car is found to be faulty you can return it up to 30 days and demand a refund .
This is known as “the right to reject ” which replaces earlier rulings read-
Lucy Burnford, director of the AA Garage Guide: If the garage/dealer is a member of Motor Codes – the government-backed, self-regulatory body for the motor industry – the buyer can call upon Motor Codes’ Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provision to resolve any issue.

Dealers also have to comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008). This stops them using unfair business practices, including using high pressure selling techniques or hiding important information.

In addition, if you paid for all or part of the cost of the vehicle by credit card, the card company and the dealer may be jointly responsible for compensating you under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
Buying from a dealer gives you maximum protection but they will still have to verify –in your case what caused the fire .

I think the dealership were wrong to say immediately that you could have all your money back. They should have said they would refer your claim to their legal adviser. The circumstances do have to be investigated otherwise criminal activity could be carried out. Hopefully, this will not take too long.

Further to my previous comment, I certainly recommend looking at the Motor Ombudsman website if you do not get satisfaction from the dealership –
https://www.themotorombudsman.org
This is the body referred to by Duncan and it may also be called Motor Codes.

I could find no evidence that the Motor Ombudsman is government-backed other than that is how it describes itself, but the ombudsman is a member of the Ombudsman Association which is recognised as representing good practice in dispute resolution. The Motor Ombudsman is an independent organisation that regulates various aspects of the motor trade using codes of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute [CTSI]. The CTSI is a long-established professional organisation for trading standards practitioners and codes of practice they approve have strong recognition, shortening and simplifying the resolution of disputes and obviating the need for court action.

PSomersall says:
1 November 2019

Within 30 days of purchasing a new Acer laptop from Curry’s, the device kept turning off and wouldn’t turn back on. We were advised to reset the battery which we did but the problem continued. It was just outside of the 30 days when we were able to take it to a store where we were told they would send it away for a repair! We paid full price for a brand new laptop which has been faulty since we received it. Surely if we wanted to buy a faulty laptop then we wouldn’t have paid full price?! Really disappointed with curry’s and with acer and will never buy one of their products again.

Hi PSomersall, I’m sorry to hear that you were unable to return your new Acer laptop within 30 days.

Given that your fault occurred inside the 30 days it is disappointing – but not surprising – to hear that Curry’s after sales care only meets the minimum legal standards set by UK law.

As a PC and tech goods retailer, Curry’s have had a very poor reputation for a very long time. Hence, many of us either avoid them completely or only use them very infrequently.

In your case, at the very least, I would hope to see any manufacturer’s warranty being used to give an instant replacement for your laptop. Assuming, of course, that you’d still like the have another example of the make and model your originally purchased.

Otherwise, you might have preferred to have a full refund, so you could switch retailers and/or brands.

As regards inexpensive consumer laptops, I think Acer and HP are probably two of the best available brands, but even their machines will be built down to a price for today’s competitive market place. With this in mind, apart from batteries, there is almost nothing that can be repaired or replaced inside a lot of modern laptops. Hence repair and replacement are almost the same option anyway.

Michelle isherwood says:
5 November 2019

I’ve just received a rug I had ordered on line which is so different from the picture and description I thought I was buying, I have already paid for delivery and to return the rug they are also asking that I pay the cost which would mean I would only get back the cost of the rug so would be £10.00 out of pocket how can that be right ?

Hi Michelle,

Where did you buy the rug from? If it’s not what it looked like online, you can ask the retailer to pay for the return costs. They should be able to send you a pre-paid postage label. You should also be given a refund for the original delivery cost too!

Michelle isherwood says:
5 November 2019

Thankyou I will try I think that’s the least they can do, I bought it from Wayfair.

No problem, good luck. Let us know how you get on.

Has anyone come across or heard of a company called AKAKUS LTD or AKAKUSUK LTD?

I have just out of the blue received a headed letter from this company .. with a swatch of leatherette material enclosed for which I have not asked for, have not ordered etc .. nor have I even looked up any cloth material related items?? I have no need or such item?

On researching this company which only has a mailing address on it which is 1 Honey St, Manchester (taken from the letter heading itself) and appears to only be a mail box. There is no website, no telephone number etc for contact.
Infact, the bottom half of the A4 letter where any contact details and any/or info of its registration with companies house would be .. has been totally removed probably with a ruler placed along the bottom of the page itself and hand ripped away???
(That alone … looks scam like/worrisome to me!!???)
Why would they not want me to read to read any company house registration details??

Looking on companies house page this company’s only contact number starts with +91 .. which on checking this out is a dialing code for India???

I have not ordered this nor searched for this (or anything vaguely like it) on the net .. so is this a possible scam?

I most certainly have not heard of this company or had anything to do with companies from India? China very occasionally but rare.
And if so .. what do I do .. ? As I do not want these people bothering me further or be billed for etching I know nothing about .. and if it is a known scammer .. I would like to report it and add to numbers reporting!
Thanks for any advice

Hi Sue, there is a company of that name registered in the UK, see:-https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09831797/officers

It is also mentioned on some business directory websites.

Hi Sue. Does this look like what you’ve received? https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leather-Leatherette-Upholstery-Fabric-Material-Width140/dp/B07SLF9TXM/ref=sr_1_4?m=A2YPS4WESHETOV&marketplaceID=A1F83G8C2ARO7P&qid=1573050815&s=merchant-items&sr=1-4

If so, change your Amazon account password for now. I’ll also send you an email to discuss this.

Akakus is on Europages mobile its got —contact the company but its HTTP not HTTPS also has a cellnet number .
If its not a scam and is genuinely linked to Amazon they have a new E-Commerce system on the go just now.
Even with overriding one blocker its URL looks a bit dodgy and I am still blocked by another type of blocking.

If it is a scam then that’s how my blockers work but even if I have the genuine company it still looks “not right ” to me as far as contacting them is concerned.