January is a pretty popular month for returning unwanted purchases picked up in the sales. So what are all these items that we’re returning?
Christmas has been and gone and in an act as traditional as carol singing with a steaming mug of mulled wine – I hit the sales.
Already some of my purchases will have to be returned. And it doesn’t look like I’m alone either, our research has revealed that six in ten of us have returned something we purchased in the last year.
The top two reasons for returns were that that the products were faulty or the incorrect product or size had been ordered.
We found that more than half of people returning faulty goods last year were returning electrical items like mobile phones, laptops and dishwashers. This was followed by clothing and shoes, then furnishing and home wares. Thinking about my own purchases, this sounds about right.
Using the new faulty goods tool
With our new faulty goods tool we’ve helped more than 1,000 people try to get a refund, repair or replacement for faulty items worth up to £1,188,073 over the Christmas period using our faulty goods tool.
The median average price of a product claimed for by users of the tool is £213, with claims ranging from £4.99 for a faulty nutritional supplement shaker, right up to £58,000 for an unsatisfactory static caravan.
Faulty goods: the post- 6 month problem
But what we found in the same survey was that just 13% of people knew that six months after purchasing a product the onus is on you to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase.
Inspired by comments on our previous conversation we decided to ask people how they would prove a fault was present at the point of purchase. We specifically asked what they would do to prove a fridge-freezer they had owned for 15 months stopped working due to a fault – and 68% said they wouldn’t know how.
Unfortunately, the truth is that the law doesn’t detail how shoppers can prove a fault was present at purchase, which can make it problematic when you’re asked to do so.
Guidance has tended to focus on getting an independent report from a repair shop or expert, but this advice dates back to a time when they were common on high-streets. I suspect you’ll be hard pressed to find one now.
What should you do?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. If you can find a repair shop or expert to undertake an independent report, it’s worth doing so as long as the cost isn’t out of proportion with the value of the product. It’s also worth checking that the retailer will accept the validity of the report.
2. Are people on social media complaining of the same type of fault as you? Or any reviewers or journalists? The more evidence you can collect to show that the fault is a problem which is affecting lots of people, the stronger your case.
3. If the retailer fobs you off, you could consider taking your case to the Consumer Ombudsman.
Returning faulty goods can be a bit of a minefield so we hope that the new tool and these tips will help you out.
But we’d like to hear some of your experiences with returning items. So, what items have you found yourself having to return? Have you had prove a fault with any older purchases? And if so how did you get on?