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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.

Brian Rose says:
15 January 2021

I bought some glue down Luxury Vinyl Flooring in Late 2013 , it was covered by a 10 year domestic warranty. When I bought it I was assured that it was suitable for my room which is a large open space area partly an extension with a large Orangery style lantern and two sets of glass bifold doors , and half the original Dining room and Kitchen , in all about 45 sq Metres. We had two other adjoining rooms fitted (Entrance Hall and Utility Room) with the same material for continuity in 2015, so in all we have about 60 sq metres of the same flooring.

About 2 years ago we noticed some parts of the floor were fading badly , I’d forgotten about the warranty but we had a few spare planks so a local fitter came out and replaced some of the ‘planks’ for us . Since then more of the flooring has started to fade , one plank in particular has become almost pure white ( the original colour was American Walnut so quite dark). Also it has now started to shrink and come loose from the floor.

I looked into replacing the floor early in 2020 and was reminded about the 10 year warranty, I could not get in touch with the original supplier / installer so I raised a complaint with the manufacturer in June 2020. Since then I have emailed and phoned them regularly but have been constantly fobbed off with “we need to inspect it but all our staff are on furlough” . Having now contacted them again they have offered me 50% off of new product but for the main area only. This does not include the labour or materials to strip out the faulty product and replace it. It also does not include the other two rooms .
which means I would be committed to some major expense to replace the faulty product.

What are my rights?

Jacqueline Hogan says:
15 January 2021

My daughter bought an Apple iPhone Xr from John Lewis in April 2019 but a year later the phone was experiencing connectivity issues which could not be resolved during lockdown. Once the John Lewis stores re-opened we went to the stores technical team to ask for advice/send the phone for repair. We were advised to reset the phone to factory settings after backing up the data which my daughter duly did, but this did not resolve the issue and instead the phone became steadily worse. She decided to take the phone into an Apple store for advice and was told that there was a know issue with the phone but as she had purchased from John Lewis they would have to return the phone on here behalf. She did so the same day, now September, and waited for 2 months before receiving any response from ‘Technical support’ at John Lewis. She was told that the phone screen protector (which was cracked) would need replacement before any repair was made and this would cost >£400! After having been told that the issue was internal and that Apple would exchange straight away this didn’t sound right. After I complained to ‘customer service’ I was told that if I paid £215 I would receive a new iPhone back and the cost was to replace the warranty on the phone?? The phone had a 2 year ‘guarantee’ from John Lewis (one of the reasons it was purchased from there) so why do we have to pay for another warranty?? Something is not right here and I need some help to get the ‘new’ phone without paying more for it. Any advice?

Hi Jacqueline – Is the screen damaged or just the screen protector?

If the screen protector can be removed and the phone itself is undamaged I cannot see why John Lewis will not deal with the problem under their guarantee. Can you give us any more information please?

Bernhard Knight says:
17 January 2021

I had a new bathroom fitted in September and have noted a damp patch on the kitchen ceiling (under the bathroom). I suspect a pipe leaking. Is this covered by the Sale of Goods Act?

Hi Bernhard – The relevant legislation is now the Consumer Rights Act and I suggest you look at ‘Supply of a service’ on this page of the Which? website: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act The top priority is to notify the installer as soon as possible and hopefully they will rectify the problem under the guarantee and hopefully deal with any damage to your kitchen ceiling. You should only need to make use of your legal rights if the kitchen fitter is uncooperative but please give them the chance.

Hi Bernhard,

I agree with wavechange. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the service you have received must be carried out with reasonable care and skill. This means the level of care and skill you expect from a reasonably competent bathroom fitter.

It is important to allow the fitter at least one opportunity to conduct what is know as a “repeat performance.” This means a chance to investigate and rectify any outstanding works. If it becomes transparent that this leak was caused by the fitter and has now resulted in damp patches appearing then the fitter should also be liable for rectifying this damage.

I hope the information above is of assistance.

If you do require any further tailored legal advice then please do get in contact with Which? Legal to explore our membership 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

Mr. Barry says:
18 January 2021

I have received a cheque for the sum paid for an item I returned, but this amount did not cover the postage both to receive and return the item. Should I not be reimbursed?

malcolm r says:
18 January 2021

Mr. Barry, It depends upon whether the goods were simply returned from choice and the retailers terms, or where the goods were faulty. Guidance to the act says (“you” being the retailer) :

“You should refund all monies received. This includes the outbound delivery cost, unless the consumer chose to have the goods delivered by more expensive means than the cheapest standard delivery option offered. If so, you do not have to refund the full outbound delivery cost, but only the cost of the standard delivery option which the consumer could have chosen. You must repay the consumer without undue delay, and no later than 14 days starting the day after you receive the goods back. If the consumer provides proof of return before you receive the goods back, you should refund without undue delay and no later than 14 days starting the day after you receive that proof.

You do not have to pay the cost of returning the goods to you, provided you told the consumer before the contract was made that they would be liable for such costs.

“If a consumer rejects goods, you are responsible for all reasonable costs of returning the goods to you unless the goods are being returned to the place that the consumer received them (for example, returning them to the shop in which they were bought). If the costs incurred by the consumer are more than a reasonable amount, you are still responsible for paying the reasonable portion of those costs.

The terms. & condition should be on the retailer’s website and placing an order will mean that you have agreed to them. If goods are faulty (and the retailer accepts this claim) the customer should either not be charged or should be refunded promptly.

Shedhead says:
18 January 2021

I have a CCJ/Writ against a roofer for work that he didn’t complete (in June 2019). He intimidated my partner into handing over a substantial payment on the day. After a number of complaints and missed appointments he later showed up and offered a part refund a month later. This was not forthcoming. His trading address is false but I managed to track him down to his residential address. Enforcement agents have attended his property twice but have now given up trying to collect the debt.

He clearly does this repeatedly and does his very best to avoid being tracked down but I am told there is nothing else I can do. I have informed Trading Standards (through Citizens Advice Bureau) but have no idea if they are looking into the case as they don’t deal directly with the public. Any advice would be welcome as I am determined that he is stopped or at least deterred from doing this to anyone else.

V LEE says:
Today 09:57

I bought a large 75″ flat screen TV online.. paid our TV engineers x 2 to fit it to the wall.
On switching it on, there was a fault on the screen. The seller agreed to swap the TV for another – which we received. However, further costs were incurred with the removal of the faulty one, and installation of the second TV. The seller has refused to reimburse for the second TV engineer’s costs. Can I insist? What are my rights ?

Crystal says:
Today 11:26

Trader took our money and said it’d be used for supplies but hasn’t done the work on our garden. Now we haven’t got a garden safe to use and are 7k down. How do I get this back? I’ve contacted citizens advice and Consumer Rights also trading standards. I’m lost.

Rehan says:
Today 12:43

We contracted a pest control company to carry out cleaning & disinfection at our property. The cost for four hours work was agreed & emailed to us. The technician arrived as per the agreed schedule with no tools or equipment other than two bottles of disinfectant & requested to use our vacuum, mops & brushes. When our vacuum proved inadequate, he left to buy himself one & returned 40 mins later. The job was completed exactly 4 hours later. I have requested the company to deduct the cost equivalent to 40 mins of work & the cost of replacing our cleaning tools. They have only sent me online payment reminders & do not appear interested in any cost adjustment. What are my rights ??

simon galbraith says:
Today 19:23

I bought something in the sale on an online shop last week. It broke within a few days so I contacted the seller who offered me a refund, the item is still on sale but is now 30% more expensive. The retailer won’t replace the item as it’s sold by a 3rd party and will only refund what I paid, not the price the item is on sale for on their website.

Why should an online shop refund more than you paid for a product?

If the shop agrees that they are faulty (rather than damaged) you are entitled to a refund of what you paid including carriage: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product