/ Shopping

Too many shops are getting your rights wrong

Hand doing thumbs down

What do you do when you return a faulty item to a shop and they say it’s not their problem? Most of us accept it and leave with no resolution. But our investigation found that too many shops are misinforming customers.

A pathetic 16 out of 60 shops managed to clearly inform us that they could be responsible when our undercover shoppers asked for advice about a faulty fridge they’d bought.

We told each shop that a fridge we had bought from them – and which was just out of warranty – had broken. When you buy a product, it should be of satisfactory quality. And so if it develops a fault at a time in its life when this shouldn’t reasonably have happened, the shop could be responsible.

But did staff at these shops manage to tell us this? No. Loads of the shops we tested just didn’t have a clue. And many staff categorically denied we had any rights at all, when this isn’t the case.

We gave the recordings to a lawyer from our Which? Legal services and he only rated nine visits as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ – where we were given an unprompted explanation of when the shop was and wasn’t responsible.

Shoppers fobbed off with excuses

Sometimes, even when staff did say we might have rights we received some baffling explanations of what these were. The included: ‘it’s the European thing’, ‘it’s on a sliding scale’ or ‘you get five years under trading standards’. Hmm.

We tested this at Argos, Comet, Currys, John Lewis and independent shops. And while the shops did vary (Comet had seven visits rated as fair or above, independents just one) the overall picture wasn’t a great one for the shopper.

Is it really too much to ask to expect shops to tell you your rights? Personally, I think retailers should train their staff much better so they have the right knowledge of consumer rights – too many people are being easily fobbed off with these excuses. Have you tried to return something faulty recently?

Maureen Grimes says:
3 September 2014

I bought a 55in led tv may 2013.tv packed up no picture in Aug 2014.phoned makers they said it was out of warranty after a yr.they can’t do anything surely it should have lasted more than than 15months I paid £450for tv.any help would be appreciated thanks

chloe says:
30 August 2015

I bought a Lenovo A8 tablet from currys on 24/7/15 . The charger blew on it and stunk of burning . I was using alternative charger . The pad then would not turn on rebooted done everything but would not turn on just flashed and went blank again m took back to shop on 30/8/15 5 weeks after buying this they said it isn’t there problem to contact manufacture to get it fixed I explained I wanted refund as I used it for work and didn’t have time faffing about . Is it there problem surely a product shouldnt need fixing after 5 weeks??

I bought a Delonghi Coffee Machine from Argos online as it wasn’t available in my local store in Blackpool Lancs. Extremely pleased with it. Great Americanos. Sadly after 2 months It stopped working the water stopped coming through. Went through the book to check what to do and still it didn’t work. Was told to take it to my local Argos. Went on Monday but I dont have the receipt as I am packet to move house next week but there is a label with the date and order number on it which I pointed out and thought would suffice. No, Not good enough. I needed proof of purchase and said I could bring my laptop in showing the email of the order. The manage arranged for a new one for me the next day. Well today I have been back with my laptop and shown the email confirmation. They need a reference number from Delonghi apparently before anything can be done. Loverly girl serving completely understood my position had to wait ages to speak to somebody and got nowhere. Asked to speak to manager but surprise surprise a large company doesn’t have one on customer services???? Really in 2019? Not Good Delonghi. I then spoke to the woman on the phone who had a very difficult accent to understand. Was then told she had spoken to the manager they dont have! About 20 minutes later I came away with my faulty machine. Why is an item only covered for such a short time. This is 2019. Somebody please sort this out.

Cathy, first, it is the retailer who is responsible for dealing with your problem. You have no need to be involved with or know of the manufacturer’s requirements; that is for Argos. As you appliance failed in the first 6 months it is presumed (in law) that the fault was present from new; there is no requirement for you to prove anything – unless it has been damaged or abused of course.

Argos must either repair or replace it without great inconvenience to you. Which is chosen depends upon whether one is disproportionate to the other – a repair may be the cheaper solution . If that repair should fail you can reject the appliance for a full refund.

You could point out to Argos, if necessary, that it is an offence in law to mislead you or deny your rights, which are given in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (available online).

Hi Cathy – All you need to provide is proof of purchase, which could be a receipt, a credit card statement. I’ve not heard of anyone taking in a laptop, but that seems reasonable evidence. The faulty coffee machine should show the model number and serial number (if any), so there is no need for a reference number.

As Malcolm says, the responsibility lies with the retailer, and that applies irrespective of whether you wish to claim under the manufacturer’s guarantee or under you statutory rights set out in the Consumer Rights Act. The manufacturer – De’Longhi – has no legal responsibility, although they can often provide useful advice or some form of goodwill.

I suggest you go back to Argos and hopefully they will be more reasonable. If not, you can say that in refusing help they are contravening the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and that you intend to contact Citizens Advice with the intention of reporting Argos to Trading Standards. Which? has advice and a template letter on their website: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/faulty-goods

It’s helpful to print a copy of relevant parts of the legislation – or just take the laptop!

Alternatively, if you have paid by credit card you could make a claim against the credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.