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Perseverance does pay off – the value of not giving up

Tug of war

Life’s little niggles can be annoying enough – but what happens if you keep being fobbed off? Don’t lose heart, perseverance can pay off and sometimes knowledge of your rights can be all the weaponry you need.

Working in Which?’s Consumer Rights team, I often hear stories of people being fobbed off by companies when they’re in the right. But sometimes it can be difficult to know whether you actually are in the right, or whether you’re fighting a losing battle.

Our Consumer Rights site (which is celebrating its first birthday!) is a good place to start and will help make companies sit up and take notice. All well and good I hear you say – but does it actually work? Do not worry fellow consumer, the following stories should help you realise why being pushy can pay off.

Faulty goods fob-off

My colleague Eleanor Snow has passed her passion for consumer rights to her friends:

avatar‘My friend, who bought a beaded-wire washing basket, complained after her clothes were left permanently stained by rust after some of the beading came off. She initially got a poor response over the phone, but after writing to the head of customer services they sent her a cheque to cover the cost of replacing the damaged clothes and basket, plus compensation for the hassle!’

I also asked our Queen of Complaints, Ingrid Stone, for her best tale of perseverance:

avatar‘A good example of perseverance is when my Sony television went on the blink, just days after the warranty expired. My husband contacted the customer services department and the compensation they offered barely covered the teeniest bit on the repair bill. So I wrote to the managing director, and soon after we received a cheque reimbursing us for the full £350 repair.’

Parking ticket palaver

It’s more important than ever to keep on top of your rights, as our latest research finds nearly half of online shoppers have experienced a problem with their purchase over the last two years, with 13% being lumbered with faulty or damaged goods.

But faulty goods aren’t the only area for frustrating fob-offs, as our Consumer Rights Editor Amanda Diamond will tell you:

avatar‘I recently received a parking ticket while parked outside my own home because my annual permit – which I’ve dutifully bought every year for the last six years – expired. I usually get a notification from the council alerting me to the fact that my permit’s due to expire, but this year they failed to send one out.

‘I appealed the ticket – with a strongly-worded letter – but my appeal was rejected. I was furious, but I didn’t give up. I made a second appeal and pointed out my intention to refer my appeal to the parking adjudicator. My appeal was upheld and I saved myself £65 – result!’

Do our tales of perseverance make you want to stand up for your rights? Have you any tales of success, or have you been fobbed off by a wily company?

Want more? Listen to our one-off Consumer Rights podcast, starring all of us, Ingrid and Which? Conversation’s very own Patrick Steen.


I expect this will be a thumbs down comment. Amanda – suppose your renewal letter from the Council had gone astray in the post? It is your responsibility to ensure you renew, whether it is a parking permit, MoT, road fund licence (reminder – but may also go astray), insurance………etc. You cannot blame others – rather than a “strongly worded letter” a more conciliatory approach might have been appropriate?
Ingrid – the Sale of Goods Act would cover your TV in law when it failed just outside the warranty under the “quality – durability” clause. Perhaps you would ask Which? to look at how this can be more easily applied by consumers – for example by publishing “reasonable lifetimes” for products. I have found when approaching companies with claims (few and far between) after the warranty expired that many appreciate durability is a valid argument and deal with the claim reasonably.

Steve Austin says:
8 March 2014

Referring to the broken tv just out of warranty. I concur completely with Malcolm R. A colleague of mine told me about my rights under the Sale of Goods Act when I told him about my broken tv. I got it collected from my home, repaired and returned all free of charge within a week. The “quality/durability” element is the profound support here – when you have paid hundreds of pounds for an item you have a right to expect it to be serviceable for a number of years, not one or two.

Forgive my cynicism but I have had 40 years in law.

Every contested claim has 3 stages

1 The waitng game where you do nothing in the hope that the other side can’stand the suspense.

2 Blinding by science where you swap technical arguments which neither side really understand in the hope that the other will take fright.

3 The carve up. A compromise should be thought of as something which nobody wants so that they can all say that they didn’t let the others get away with it. you know that you are there when someone says “It’s really a matter of principle”

The trick is not just to persevere but to pitch your opening gambit right and realise what is happening so that you can make the right moves.

Might be best to keep lawyers out of it, really.

Lawyers are a last resort really.

JGH1 – forgive my cynicism as well, but you forgot the last stage. Pay the lawer. There’s always a winner.

Patrick Carragher says:
20 March 2014

John Lewis have chosen to ignore the time I spent getting a response to my complaint re a computer they supplied to me getting fixed. One of their employees entered the wrong password when first setting up meaning that I couldn’t use any computer other than my own. So I had to take the laptop on holiday twice with me because my mobile wouldn’t accept my password, telling me each time I entered it that it was wrong. I paid computer boffins to try and rectify the fault and spent many hours since September ’13 until March this year trying to identify the problem until I decided the wrong password had been introduced when bought. J.L. customer care said they didn’t compensate for time. I strongly object to this as my time is as valuable as J.L. employees.

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