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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
Asia Miah says:
2 December 2020

i bought a duvet cover for £60 from Selbys. it turned out in bobbles after the first use. What can i do?

Asia – Did you wash it and iron it following the laundry care instructions?

Alon Dromi says:
2 December 2020

I bought a Sage mixer a 4 years ago. It recently developed a fault in the mixing jug. I tried to buy a replacement on line, but you cannot get this part anymore because the original mixer is discontinued. I wrote to Sage and they Offered a discount o 40% on any other product to compensate. However even after the discount, this will mean I will have to spend substantially more then I would if I could just buy the part. It does not seems reasonable to me that I will need to bare the cost of them not stocking old parts. I would also expect much longer longevity from such an expensive brand.

Hi Alon – You have rights against the retailer (rather than the manufacturer) for up to six years and the best outcome could be a free repair. If parts are really not available then you should be able to get a partial refund from the retailer if you don’t want a discount on a new product.

Sage is part of the Breville Group and it’s possible that the part you need could be used in mixers sold under the Breville brand name.

The EU Right to Repair initiative is fighting needless waste and one of the aims is to require manufacturers to provide spare parts from next year: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49884827 Some manufacturers do not want to provide spares to anyone other than their own repairers, but that is another battle to be won for the consumer.

Hi Alon,

Sage UK site usually says all their spare parts are unavailable. I have got parts from them in the past after emailing them which you have already done.

You might want to try Sage Germany who are rather more helpful and seem to have spare parts that the UK don’t have.
https://www.sageappliances.com/eu/de/home/index.html

And as Wavechange says, Sage is rebranded Breville Australia a separate entity to (maybe all) Breville branded products in the UK. Breville might be able to point you in the direction of spares closer to home.

Where did you buy your mixer?

If I’m not mistaken, you had some fun getting Sage to supply replacement parts for your grill, Alfa. At least they were available.

I got an email from Sage offering me some spare grill plates really cheap. As usual, they were unavailable so I ordered them from Germany. They should last for a few years, just hope the grill keeps going.

I got spares for my non-UK bread machine back in January, but the machine started really struggling so I have stopped using it for now and making bread by hand unless JL ever swap the one that has been sitting in our front hall waiting to be collected for several weeks now as new ones are unavailable. Confuddled? 😖

Clare says:
2 December 2020

I just purchased two dog runs for over £2000 (£1000 each, free delivery). They were described as strong and sturdy. I also called the company to ask if I could switch the way the doors open (as shown in varying images) and I was informed I could. Upon receipt of the items I have discovered that the doors can only open one way and they are hilariously flimsy, poor quality and not fit for use.
The company is saying I have to pay for freight, coming in at over £900 to return them (based in Germany)!

I bought an electric cooker from Argos 10 months ago it’s developed a fault by turning itself off mid way through. Use, manufacturer said not them it is in store problems as less than year old , Argos want cooker for inspection 22 days before Christmas no time given going against their own policy replace or refund if faulty less than year old no questions asked? I am disabled and on high COVID risk list

Faye Kew says:
3 December 2020

I ordered a mincer from amazon which has not arrived after a month. I spoke to a customer service operator and they have said that I have to claim from the “third party seller” and not them. As I paid the money to amazon surely they should refund me and they claim from the seller? Can anyone help please?

Several years ago, Amazon expected me to deal with the seller of a product that was different from the photo on the Amazon website.

Which? has discovered numerous potentially dangerous products sold by third party sellers on well known online marketplaces and currently the marketplace owners are not legally responsible for dealing with the problem.

I don’t know the answer, Faye, but I would not now use Amazon unless they are the seller or the third party is a well known company.

My mum brought me a new mobile phone for my birthday and the screen had a hairline crack in screen. Mum took back to shop and the man said I had dropped it and refused to do anything. Help

Just took delivery of corner recliner sofa from SCS, very unhappy with it, its as hard as a rock to sit on, no comfort in it , nothing like as comfortable as one i saw in the shop ike sitting on a rock, i would like a refund, how do i go about this

Hi Sheila.

I am sorry to hear of your issue with your sofa from SCS.

Comfort level of a sofa is very subjective. It is reasonable to assume that the unit you sat on in their showroom has been tried and tested by many other people and therefore it may not be as firm as the brand new unit you have taken delivery of.

If you believe that the sofa is indeed faulty, you may be in a position to return the sofa for a full refund if you are still within the first 30 days of taking ownership if the goods. These rights rights are from the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It is important however to point out that the burden of proof will be on you as the consumer to prove an inherent fault with the sofa. This may be achieved with an independent expert’s report.

If you ordered the sofa online or via the telephone and you are still within 14 days of taking possession, you may be able to exercise a statutory 14 day cooling – off period. This means, you can return the sofa for no reason and receive a full refund. There a few caveats to this avenue however. If the sofa was made to order i.e. to fit and colour then these rights may not be available. You may also be required to pay the return shipping.

It may be worth contacting SCS in order to request a refund. They may agree straightaway.

I hope the information above is of assistance.

If you do require any further tailored legal advice, then please do call in to 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

Millie says:
4 December 2020

I ordered off a website and it arrived but the quality was awful so I went onto the website to look how to return it and there is nothing on the website about returning so I went into the Instagram page and in one of the stories it says no refund available but nothing is stated on the website what can I do to get my money back?

If I pay for a product or a service but is as a present for somebody else, what are the rights of the person receiving the present, can you mark the receipt as being for this other person and transfer all rights to them?

This is a longstanding problem, Philip. Here is what Which? has to say: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-want-to-return-an-unwanted-gift

Some retailers will provide a gift receipt that can be be passed on with the gift providing the recipient with evidence of where the goods were purchased. While that will help with an exchange, the legal rights remain with the purchaser, making it difficult to deal with faulty products or obtaining a refund.

I ordered off the website they took my money and then Curry’s cancelled the order,no explanation and as yet no refund, they are difficult to get hold off and when you do excuses and empty promises, I will Never buy anything again from them such disgraceful customer service.

Our family has now been without a working fridge for almost 2 months after our Haier Fridge Freezer broke on 12th October 2020 having been purchased from Currys online on 29th June 2020 (but not delivered until July 2020 due to stock issues). I reported this via the Curry’s telephone line on 13th October 2020 and was put through to a representative from the Haier team. To cut a long story short, it has now been almost 2 months and we still do not have a working fridge. As you can imagine, as a family of 4 with 2 young children in the midst of a pandemic and subsequent lockdown this has been very challenging, stressful and expensive for us all. We had 3 engineer visits and the fridge freezer was then written off as broken beyond repair. Haier gave us an uplift number and referred us back to Currys for a replacement, however their automated telephone service gives no facility to talk to someone regarding this or to organise the replacement. After much time spent calling various departments, we did finally get through to a currys representative who arranged for our fridge to be collected with the promise of a refund being issued once this had happened. The fridge was collected on 12th November 2020 leaving us without a fridge or freezer. We have called several times since to ask about our refund, which has to be issued as a gift card as that is how we paid, and each time we are told the fridge has been received and the refund has been issued and we should expect a gift card within 3 – 5 working days, however we have still received nothing. We have been told that a manual refund form was submitted on 20th November at 13.58 and therefore we should have received our gift card by now. I emailed the CEO and was passed on to a member of the CEO support team who said the gift card department was very busy. She finally confirmed on Friday that she had passed on the details and we should receive our refund but still nothing. I am utterly desperate now as we are approaching Christmas with 2 young children and no way to store any fresh food. Please could someone advise me if Currys are in breach of the Consumer rights act 2015 and if so what my legal rights are or where to go for help. Many thanks in advance.

Jenny Williamson says:
8 December 2020

I have received a package of items from Regatta that I did not order. I have been refunded for the items that I did order. I was asked for, and have given, a date when I will be in for collection of the unwanted items by a courier. I have had no acknowledgement. If the courier does not come, how long do I have to keep them before giving them to a local charity?

Graham Sheen says:
10 December 2020

On 20 October I arranged for a parcel to be collected by ParcelHeros and delivered to Japan
On 23 October the parcel was returned without comment
Since they I have had many communication (32 emails) with the firm without resolution
They are now claiming that is responsibility of the carrier- not them
How should I proceed to get a refund ?

Hi Graham, that’s frustrating. I don’t know if you have checked this but there is some great help here. Have you had any further developments from ParcelHeros?

We bought a tall free standing freezer from Currys last year which developed fault and was repaired this Tuesday to change the gas and other bits. On Wednesday morning, my husband saw that there was a warning and different temperatures flashing continuously. Called Grundig but feed up after 5 attempts. On Thursday, called again at 18.25 with no reply, made the call as urgent due to the fact that apart from the flashing warnings and temperatures, there was sparking from the back ( Not from the switch).

This morning It took the company 1:04:52hrs waiting before speaking to and adviser and till Tuesday next week for another engineer to visit.

What can we do? We have thrown away food worth £200 as I am disable and my husband works full time and mostly do bulk shopping to save time and money.

Hi Mary – Your home insurance may cover the cost of wasted food providing you have evidence such as photos.

Sharon says:
13 December 2020

I bought a tumble dryer three years ago, it is no not working and has an electrical fault. The company hoover will not repair it unless we pay. But surely a tumble dryer should be expected to last longer than this? Please help🤔

Hi Sharon – You have statutory rights against the retailer under the Consumer Rights Act for up to six years. Hoover cannot be expected to help after their guarantee has expired unless you bought the dryer from them rather than a retailer.

I suggest you contact the retailer. Here is advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product After six months, the retailer can ask you to prove that a fault was present at the time of purchase or that there was some inherent defect that resulted but they cannot simply say that there is nothing that can be done to help. You might need to provide an expert’s report to support your case.

Sometimes faults are caused by misuse, for example not following the instructions provided. For example, opening a tumble dryer before the end of the cycle can cause overheating, which would be counted as misuse and you would have to pay for a repair. Likewise, failure to clean filters as specified in the instructions would count as misuse.

Best of luck.

Sharon, your rights are protected for 6 years by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You will need to find out just what the electrical fault is, probably using a domestic repairer. They will need to provide a report. If a component has simply failed then if it is clear it was faulty from new – not easy – you are entitled to a repair or replacement. If that is not clear the alternative approach is to claim the dryer was not reasonably durable – did not last as long as would be reasonably expected for a product of that price. You would also probably need to show normal usage.

None of this is easy but certainly worth taking up with the retailer (your contract is with them, not the manufacturer) but if that approach fails you can always try to get some goodwill from Hoover.

Somehow we must ensure products do last a reasonable time and can be economically repaired when necessary to keep them working properly. That is part of what sustainability means.

charles says:
14 December 2020

Can I take an online purchase back to a store for a refund, or does it have to go back via delivery?

This will depend on the terms & conditions of the company, which you should be able to find on the website, or you could contact them to ask the question.

I bought an on-line course which was cancelled a day before it was due to start. The course consisted of two weeks training in the course center with tutors. I was looking to obtain certifications as an electrician, since March the company is now providing the course mostly on line and the new course does not resemble the original course criteria. I have applied through the courts for a refund and now have a court date. But now worried about the fees I may incur as I seek a lawyer to prepare the case.

I have a settee with blistering to the leather and the settee is just out of 1 year warrenty and retailer just declined to accept responsibility or help.

John – Notwithstanding the existence of a warranty on your sofa, you have certain consumer rights which take precedence.

You are within the period which is allowed in which to make a legal claim: six years [from taking possession] in England, Wales & Northern Ireland, and five years [from the date of discovery] in Scotland. However you are outside the 30-day right to reject period and outside the six month period in which the six month period in which it is presumed the faults were present at the time of purchase and the retailer should offer a repair or replacement.

If a fault develops after the first six months, the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time you took ownership of it. In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.

Leather, being a natural material, does not necessarily have a consistent and predictable performance and will, to a large extent, depend on how it has been used or treated. Some modern leathers are very thinly skived and can easily be overstretched. The quality of the underlying upholstery can also be relevant. The initial quality of the leather needs to be taken into account so the original price of your settee [relative to its size and style] will be a factor in any assessment.

The retailer has no further legal obligation to you and although the question of ‘durability’ arises, for the reasons I have given, that is a very vague concept in the case of domestic furniture, and the cost of proving that the product was defective when you bought it, and pursuing a case against the seller, might well be not worth while.

One possibility would be for you to seek a reputable upholstery company and ask [without any obligation on your part] about having the affected leather replaced with a more durable type. If the blistering is extensive, however, it might be just too expensive to have it all taken apart and re-covered and it would better to buy a new replacement. If having the settee dismantled, there is also the risk that framework faults would show up. If you have a matching suite, I presume it would only be a matter of time before the other pieces showed the same signs of blistering. I appreciate this is not good news but I cannot be more optimistic I am afraid.

The Which? guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is here –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

It is still the retailer’s responsibility to fulfil their legal responsibilities under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It will depend on how bad the blistering is but for a settee to fail after just over a year would show unreasonable durability, one of the key contract conditions, unless the settee has been abused or misused. I’d suggest approaching the retailer on this basis.

While that is true, Malcolm, without knowing the quality of the leather upholstery it is impossible to make a judgment on how durable it should be. The provision of a one-year warranty might be all we need to know. The retailer has declined to take any further responsibility or to help Mr Cessford and that might be the end of the matter without going into litigation.

If we could pin down ‘durability’ we could be much more helpful in our comments but there appears to be very little statutory guidance or case law to assist, and Which? – so far as I can recall – has never ventured an opinion on the matter.

As you have pointed out John, it is necessary for the customer to prove that the product was not sufficiently durable, meaning that it has failed to meet the ‘satisfactory quality’ requirement of the CRA. Each case must be judged on its own merit taking into account normal wear & tear, any claims that were made regarding the durability of the goods, the price paid the goods and reasonable expectations for this type of product.

I suggest that Mr Cessford should contact the retailer and point out their responsibilities under the CRA and push for a repair or partial refund that takes into account the age of the goods.

It might be worth contacting the Furniture & Home Improvement Ombudsman: https://www.fhio.org

Manufacturers can sometimes be helpful after a guarantee has expired but have no legal obligation.

We see regular reports of people whose products have failed early, and particularly just out of a manufacturer’s guarantee. I would suggest in the majority of these cases the product clearly lacked reasonable durability. To just roll over and accept it is not a route we should encourage people to take, particularly when we are seeing a more concerted move towards sustainability. I believe Which? should begin to address this and give consumers the help they need, and deserve.

In my view the answer is to push for longer guarantees. Guarantees are normally fair and people know how to use them. There is not usually a need to negotiate and in my experience, customers are usually treated fairly. If you want longer cover then buy an extended warranty if you are happy with the T&Cs. If a manufacturer has to pay for repair or replacement they cannot afford to have too many failures, so quality might improve.

Making a claim under the CRA more than six months after purchase requires the consumer to prove their case, or they can go to the ombudsman or to court. The consumer may need to negotiate with the retailer, just as they would if they were buying a house or a car. The CRA is there to protect both the consumer and retailers, hence the need to prove poor durability.

A friend has just replaced his car because the five year guarantee had expired and bought a new one with a five year guarantee, so he knows where he stands. If a car manufacturer can offer a five year guarantee then why not for a washing machine. Both manufacturers can stipulate a maximum use during this period – miles for cars and cycles for washing machines.

We agree on this. The longer guarantee would still need “policing” to ensure the validity of a claim and would be a cost to the manufacturer. But the cost will be least to the better manufacturers and, hopefully, guarantees will be extended for an extra charge, but again should be less if you buy from a good manufacturer.

However, we still need some more formal process to ensure products are more sustainable, giving much longer lives than a guarantee will offer; this needs partly higher-quality build and components, good design, and crucially availability of spares and a design that makes the common repairs easy – and economical – to deal with.

You can extend the comprehensive warranty on many cars by purchasing an annual warranty arranged by the manufacturer. You don’t need to replace the car.

If the manufacturer is responsible for reimbursing the retailer for valid claims under a guarantee then this should force them to produce better quality and more repairable goods. As I said, they cannot afford to fund many repairs. At present what is happening is that with a one year guarantee and few pursuing their statutory rights under the CRA, many are buying cheap products and replacing them when the break.

The European ‘Right to Repair’ initiative is pushing for availability of spares and technical information to facilitate repairs but some manufacturers are fighting to ensure that these are not available for consumers to effect their own cost effective repairs. Some people promote the ‘circular economy’ but this looks to me like a system to persuade the public to trade-up to new products on the promise that their old ones are recycled.

The friend who has traded in his car has bought an SUV because he was struggling to get into his five year old Hyundai to buy one of their SUVs. He is in his 70s and wanted a car that is easier to get into. At least his car will find another owner rather than ending in a scrap heap, as is the common fate of white goods. One of the reasons he has bought Hyundai is because of the five year guarantee.

I’m keen that Which? reviews tell us which products are sold with longer guarantees and also which retailers offer longer guarantees, either regularly or periodically. It is encouraging that Which? is now letting us know which cordless vacuum cleaners have user-replaceable batteries and there is plenty of scope to extend this to other products.

Pamela abercrombie says:
14 December 2020

I’ve half cooker for 7 and a half years it has had no issues and then yesterday it went on fire. What are my rights?

Pamela – A good quality cooker ought to last more than seven and a half years. What actually happened? Cookers are fairly fire-proof things, but gas cookers obviously have naked flames. Were any of the working parts [e.g. controls, elements] burnt out? Or was it something inside the oven that you were cooking that caught fire?

Your basic rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 are for a product to be fit for purpose [which includes being of durable construction]. That is a tricky aspect to enforce because it will depend on the age, amount of use/wear-&-tear, and general treatment of the item. You are outside the period which is allowed in which to make a legal claim: six years [from taking possession] in England, Wales & Northern Ireland, and five years [from the date of discovery] in Scotland. I think therefore it will be virtually impossible to make a substantive claim and the best you could hope for would be a goodwill gesture from either the retailer or the manufacturer or both.

If you were within the statutory time limit, your rights would be enforceable against the retailer so it is necessary to produce the relevant documentation and raise the question with them. At this length of time after purchase, in order to prove that the appliance has failed the test of ‘durability’, it is almost certain that you would have to obtain and produce an expert report on the condition of the cooker identifying, if possible, what has happened. Any award of compensation is likely take into account the years of service the cooker has given and be taken off the original purchase price. In my opinion it is highly unlikely that you would be provided with, or enabled to buy, a like-for-like replacement.

While 7½ years might seem a short life-cycle, it might be in your interests to write-off the cooker and buy a new one taking advantage of any sale deals or discounts that are available at this time of the year. You might have cover under any domestic appliance policy or under your household insurance policy.

The Which? guide to the Consumer Rights Act is here –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

Hi Pamela – Please could you give us some information about what went on fire? If it was the appliance rather than what you were cooking then it would be worth letting the manufacturer know. Sometimes information about fires can result in a recall of older appliances.

I agree with the points that John has made.

What rights do I have where goods have been paid for but not supplied on a reasonable date? My installation was due 7th Dec but goods, I was told, would not be available until 15th January. I find that an unacceptable delay

Hi Daryl – Here is a response from a member of the Which? Legal team about a delay in supplying goods: https://conversation.which.co.uk/which-membership/ask-which-legal-shopping-online/#comment-1614064

Do you want to cancel the order and if so, have you asked the company? I was fed-up when a company sent me an email to say that the date of delivery of a freezer would be delayed after I had been given a date weeks ahead when I placed the order. They were happy to accept cancellation and I was very happy because I had found another company that would supply a few days later and at a lower price.