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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

Hi Ann

I thought I would wade in and give you some hope when it comes to Sainsbury’s.

I purchased curry meal deal from Sainsbury’s. The kind you heat in the oven and it comes with 2 curries, rice and naans.

Well – it was cooking away nicely in my oven and when I went to check on it- the plastic (but over ready) container had melted ALL over the baking tray and had spilled over the side onto the filaments of the oven.

The oven would not turn back on at all with all the wax and curry over it.

I contacted Sainsbury’s and they told me they were so sorry. They sent me £50 to have a gas engineer come out to look at the oven. And I was quoted as needing a new filament which was hundreds of pounds.

In the end, Sainsbury’s let me choose a brand new cooked from their appliances range and they came and fitted it for me.

I was stunned at how amazing their customer service was. The manager of the biggest Sainsbury’s in my area called me and requested a meeting so we could discuss options. I met him in the Sainsbury’s cafe and we discussed everything and he told me I had £400 to use to choose a new cooker!

Amazing.

So – just get in touch. They really ar helpful.

Lisa Brown says:
28 July 2020

I need some advice. I purchased a bike from Very for £449. I had the bike 2 days and the peddle came off. It looks like the thread all wore away so the peddle has nothing to attach to the bike. I immediately returned the bike but very will not refund me my money as the say its our fault and not a manufacturing fault. I have no bike and am £450 out of pocket. I have been on hold for over 8 hrs and cannot get a straight answer from them. I get different information on each call. Ive wrote a formal complaint, ive emailed both CEOs with non response from any routes. I don’t know what to do next. The bike was returned over 6 weeks ago.

Hi Lisa

If you Google “Which faulty goods” you should be able to find pages of detailed advice.

In your case, if you correctly set up your bike before use, its pedals should have given years of trouble free service.

So, there must have been a manufacturing or design fault, leading to an insufficiently durable product.

Thus Very should either replace the bike or refund you.

If they refuse, you may need to threaten them with court action. Which Legal can help you with that, if so required.

Hi Lisa – During the first six months after purchase a product is assumed to be faulty at the time of purchases unless the retailer can prove otherwise*. You have 30 days to reject the goods, after which the retailer is entitled to repair or replace the goods. If a repair fails you should seek a full refund: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-want-to-return-my-goods-what-are-my-rights#online-returns

*As Derek has said, it is essential that the bike was correctly set up and that it was not abused.

Lisa – Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you have a legal right to reject goods that are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described, and get a full refund – as long as you do this quickly. Your bicycle is clearly of unsatisfactory quality and, because of the broken pedal, it is unfit for purpose.

The following Which? guidance explains all your rights and how to make a claim –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

The basic rights are reinforced by the Consumer Contracts Regulations which deal with on-line purchases. You have an absolute right to cancel an order for any reason. See –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-contracts-regulations#:~:text=%20What%20are%20my%20rights%20under%20the%20Consumer,online%20shopping%20basket%20or%20that%20you…%20More%20

Rayner Wilson says:
28 July 2020

I purchased an expensive fly killer online direct from the retailer CGS Stores Selby Despite it being on for 24 hours and flies buzzing in close proximity it didn’t catch one. I reported back to the retailer who then came up with all reasons about why is wasn’t working; it being positioned in the dark;(in a kitchen!) it doesn’t catch house flies; it needs to be on 24 hours a day etc…despite none of this stated in their description of the item, they state perfect for domestic use as well as reception areas and restaurants. After a lot of dispute they’ll accept it back but won’t collect or cover postage. It is a fairly delicate and weighty item. Any ideas?

Rayner – Please see my comment to Lisa Brown above and the links to Which? guidance.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations which deal with on-line purchases, if you are returning goods because they are faulty any terms and conditions that say you must cover the cost of returning them do not apply. In your case the fly-killer is of unsatisfactory quality as well as being not as described and arguably unfit for purpose, so you are entitled to a free return and a full refund. Please note the timescales involved.

Aoife says:
30 July 2020

I recently purchased garden furniture costing £1300 which arrived on 10 June. We assembled it a few days later and after only one week in the garden in an Irish summer climate, the whole thing is rusting.
On 23 June, I emailed the company looking to return it as it was not fit for purpose (ie. Garden furniture not able to withstand one week of an irish summer climate).
The website, under the description of the garden furniture, states that it is “built to endure the weather which is handy”. They responded by directing me to the care instructions which state to “cover or store away in wet weather”. I assumed this to mean if heavy rain forecast and during winter months.
The furniture has been under a cover for the entire time except week 1 where there were a couple of showers of rain.
What are my rights to claim a refund? They said there is no manufacturing fault. Is a product described as “garden furniture built to endure the weather” but which cannot withstand a couple of rain showers “unfit for purpose” or does their care instructions limit their liability?

Hi Aolfe,

If you are in the UK, then you have the unconditional right to return goods ordered on line for up to 14 days, see: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-want-to-return-something-bought-online

I’m not sure what rules apply in lreland though.

Aoife says:
30 July 2020

Thanks for your quick reply. I bought off a uk site but the product was delivered to ireland.
I requested to return the goods within 14 days of delivery. Does the rule above apply to items that are assembled at home? Also would the fact that they were uncovered in the garden for a couple of days (despite the care instructions) affect the consumers right to return the product within 14 days?

Hi Aolfe, it seems to me that Irish law also gives you a similar 14 day cooling off period to the UK, see: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/consumer/shopping/shopping_online.html

If you are detailing with a UK retailer, then they should be used to the 14 day period from their UK customers.

As far I can see, this 14 day right is unconditional in your case. So it does not matter that you bought a home assembly product or left it outside in the rain.

To me, the idea of garden furniture that has to brought in if it rains is completely daft (i.e. not fit for purpose), especially for UK and Irish homes.

Sally Heaver says:
30 July 2020

I have bought a wooden bench for £450 on line, which ha a few splits in it and now has lots of splits/cracks in it. We have painted the bench. We have complained to the company .The company have offered a small refund. Do we have a right to claim most of the money back.?

Hi Sally,

As you bought online, You have an unconditional right to return the goods within 14 days, see:- see:-https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-want-to-return-something-bought-online

In addition, the Consumer Rights Act gives you additional rights in respect of faulty goods, see:-https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

If the bench came with a few splits in it, and those have now worsened, clearly it was faulty from the start and you have a clear and simple case for a refund or replacement.

A decent quality wooden bench should last for several decades. The one my late parents bought years ago is still going strong.

Tymen says:
30 July 2020

I have a broadband contract that I cannot make use of anymore since I have left the country. Does the provider have to cancel the contract based on the fact I cannot possibly make use of this service anymore or will I have to keep paying?

Hi Tymen

See: https://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/guides/help/broadband-consumer-rights

I think you should cancel your contract, even if there is a fee for early termination.

Dear Tymen,

Thank you for your message about your broadband contract.

I would suggest the starting point is investigating the terms and conditions of the contract you have entered into. If you are within a fixed term of the contract (i.e 12 months or 24 months) then you are usually contractually bound until the end of the term and meeting the total cost. However, some companies will have a flat cancellation fee based on the number of months remaining. It’s usually advisable to make direct contact with your broadband provider and seek a settlement figure and exploring the options with them.

If you are not in a fixed term and this is just a rolling contract then it will be investigating what are the cancellation requirements of your contract. This may require giving around 30 days notice but then the contract should be able to be terminated.

I hope this helps,

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

Steve Garnett says:
30 July 2020

can you help me with a problem, with an aquarium and cabinet bought online please?

Morning Steve

I’m confident that we’d be able to provide you with advice on this matter. If you can provide some more information then we will do our best to do so.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss your problem in detail, please call 01174 054 854 or visit Which? Legal to find out more about our affordable membership options.

Lauren Stacey
Which? Legal – Lawyer FCILEx

Steve says:
30 July 2020

Oredered some windows and doors for the house in March and paid a deposit. Then heard nothing from the business and had to keep chasing them. Covid-19 springs up and all manufacturing is stopped. Told then that manufacturing will being on the 6th July. Kept chasing and told this week it wasnt manufactured and that only commercial products were manufactured. So I have paid £1k and not received anything. Accept this is because of the Virus and whilst I would like to support small businessess I also need to support my family. Any advice would be welcome….

Alex Jones says:
31 July 2020

We ordered shutters for our house. When the fitter arrived he said half of them were missing and began to fit the others. They were chipped, cracked and one door panel was bowed. The frames were made of what looked like plastic and were stuck on with what looked like sticky back plastic, and fell off before the fitter had even left the house. The shutters look terrible – and the others are still missing and will need to be reordered. The fitter also cut through skirting board and a cupboard to fit the shutters and left without making them look good again. We contacted the company on the day complaining about the missing shutters and the faulty shutters, and they have taken two weeks to send out another fitter to inspect it even though we sent photos and videos on the day. We are now waiting to hear from them but three weeks has passed since they were fitted. We have asked for them to remove the shutters and refund us our money plus make good the damage from the fitter but still haven’t heard anything. What can we do?

Craig says:
1 August 2020

Hi,

Can someone advise me who to contact with a concern regarding the Lacoste Le Club loyalty scheme? According to the terms and conditions I believe I am entitled to a gift but they are refusing and ignoring their terms and conditions telling me I am wrong and refusing to explain why. The gifts are worth approximately £250 so it’s a considerable claim.

They have told me twice on the phone they don’t know when the manager will be back, have refused to call back and will no longer address my emails.

I’ve got no idea who I can raise this with.

Any help appreciated

Thanks
C

Craig – If you can tell us what the criteria or qualifications are for a gift and why you think you are eligible for one someone might be able to assist you. If this relates to a private membership club it might be outside the usual realm of statutory consumer rights.

Andy Leggatt says:
1 August 2020

Last year I bought a Palladio Composite door and door frame from a local company who subsequently installed same last September. These door are highly specified, and include triple glazing with ‘edgetech warm edge seals for the lowest U value possible of 07’, and ‘double rebate using two seals achieving excellent draught proofing’.

However, shortly after installation I noticed that the top outer seal was not touching the door and asked them to return to correct this. They have been back six times or more, each time seeming to move the problem onto another location. On the second last attempt when both the fitter and the surveyor arrived promising they would not leave until everything was to my satisfaction, they actually succeeded in creating a gap between both seals at a corner, where a noticeable draught then came through. The fitter returned immediately, stripped the outer factory-fitted top seal off, replacing it with a piece of windscreen wiper blade type rubber of dubious durability and which is thicker than the adjacent vertical seals. Consequently, gaps remain here and other areas of the outer seal are also not in contact with the door face. The inner seal is in doubt because a sheet of A4 paper can be easily pushed passed the seal, even when the door is locked. Water quickly collects in the bottom ‘drainage sump’ behind the threshold when it rains or I wash the door.

The company now refuse to return again, stating that the door is fit for purpose, that anyway the door has a 10 year guarantee, and that these doors are designed to deal with leaks. They also add that in their opinion the installed door is in line with the tolerances stated in the British Plastic Federation ‘Code of practice for the survey and installation of windows and external doorsets’. As such, I have what I paid for.

This all seems a far cry from the super energy efficient product I though I was purchasing, and more or less exhibits many of the problems I was experiencing with the old, tired, door I decided to replace.

They were to have asked their door supplier to site for an opinion, but Covid-19 is preventing this. As such, and as an alternative, I have agreed to send them photographs of the issues. However, as my contract remains with the installer, it is really they who have to be convinced to budge on this.

To be honest, I don’t think they know how to fix it. I believe they are a Which Trusted Trader and hold a 100% satisfaction record with Network Veka: all this is very perplexing.

All advice on a practical ways forward will be appreciated.

Hi Andy – It would be worth sending an email with photos illustrating the problems to: trustedtraders@which.co.uk As well as your guarantee you have statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

I would also report this to Palladio.

Norman says:
1 August 2020

My daughter was supposed to be getting married 1st Octoner this year(2020). Of course because of the Covid 19 rules, she has had to cancel and rearrange for February next year. Everyone she had booked has agreed to change there service to the new date except the videographer. He has said he is already booked for that date, and is refusing to give back any of the deposit paid, which I think was around £500. Surely, in these extreme circumstances, he should refund her deposit? Does she have a good case to go to ombudsman, or any other course of action ?

Maria says:
2 August 2020

If I were her, I’d contact her credit card company if she paid by card. Did she sign anything? If so, check the terms and conditions.

Bernice says:
Today 16:24

Hello, I have just had some gardening work done, or rather have returned from holiday to find it has been left unfinished and composite decking has been laid very shoddily. I haven’t paid anything yet, fortunately. Can I refuse to pay anything until the job is completed satisfactorily?

Gillian Blake says:
Today 17:54

I bought a product online in May of which I was led to believe would be with me within 2 weeks. This did not happen and as a result of their delay I had to buy another product exactly the same from a different company and I advised them that I would be sending it back and request a refund of which they advised would be ok. I have returned the product and they received it on the 10th July however they now will not refund me and won’t answer my e mails. What can I do please?