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The confusion around faulty goods

Robot toy

There’s still confusion over your legal rights when returning faulty goods, so we’ve built a handy tool that will create a bespoke claim for your refund, repair or replacement.

If you bought a product from a high street store and it developed a fault after just three months, who would you contact to return it? Nearly nine in ten people in our survey said they’d prefer to return it to the store, rather than the manufacturer.

Most people said they’d go to the retailer because they’d find it easier than returning the item to the manufacturer. But only a fifth of them knew it was their legal right to return the product to the retailer.

A quarter were unaware of how long they had to demand a full refund if an electrical appliance turns out to be faulty the first time they use it. You have 30 days under the Consumer Rights Act.

So to help with all this confusion, we’ve built a free faulty goods tool that anyone can use to create a bespoke letter of complaint to claim a refund, repair or replacement.

Rights outside of warranty

Nearly four in ten people said that if an electrical appliance develops a fault outside it’s one year manufacturer’s guarantee, they wouldn’t have any legal rights. You do, but after owning something for six months, the burden of proof flips. The retailer no longer needs to prove that you caused the fault. It’s now up to us, the customer, to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase. Only a fifth of people in our survey were aware they had to do this.

And getting proof of this is easier said than done. In the past you’d nip down to your local repair shop and get the opinion of an expert to prove your claim.

I’ve had a look and I’ve asked friends and family – none of us can find a local repair shop. Maybe there was a grievously under-reported mass emigration of local repair men? Maybe the relentless advance of technology means products are obsolete as soon as they’re faulty? Then again, modern technology can be helpful as you could build evidence from reports others have made online about the same product.

I’d be interested to hear how you’ve put together proof in the past when you’ve had a faulty product. Did you get an independent report from an expert? Or did you take a different tack?

I hope our new faulty goods tool is useful – let us know if you’ve achieved success with it. And fingers crossed you won’t have to use it!

kevin williams says:
7 March 2017

Hi, I have a faulty television which I bought from currys online the manufacturers have given me an uplift code to replace the tv, but currys now have decided to stop selling the tv . the tv isa current model and is available else where and currys have offered me to exchange the product but no longer do a tv with the same specification and size . are they obliged by law to offer me a full refund ?

I suggest before looking at the legal situation you might persuade Currys to offer a little goodwill, especially since the model is still current. Some years ago, Comet wanted to pay extra because my fridge had been replaced by a more expensive model. They agreed after a brief discussion. I payed the full amount and received a refund of the difference in price. The receipt was marked to show the ‘manager’s discount’.

If the fault was reported within the first 30 days then you are entitled to a refund. If it is after that then the Consumer Rights Act gives you the choice of a repair or a replacement – unless one is disproportionately expensive compared to the other, as I read it. So I suppose technically the seller could say a repair is significantly cheaper and dig in their heels. However they have already offered to exchange the product, which is good. They can offer you an alternative “equivalent” product if the original is no longer available, but cannot force you to accept; equally it seems you cannot force them to offer an alternative.

As wavechange says, I would therefore negotiate with Currys. If you can agree an alternative, that would be ideal. If the same tv is made I do not see why Currys cannot do what the manufacturer has proposed and obtain the identical model for you from them.

Guidance that is relevant is given in BIS Guidance Sept 15 part of which I reproduce below:
What counts as a replacement?
Generally, the replacement goods should be the same as the goods that are being replaced except that they must meet the requirements that the original goods should have met (see the introductory section of ‘Goods: If Things Go Wrong’, above, for information on when these remedies are applicable, plus the ‘Goods: What the Consumer Can Expect’ section of this guidance for details of these).
The extent to which a replacement must be identical will depend on the goods. For mass produced goods, a replacement should be the same make and model, which will generally mean it should be identical. For other types of goods a replacement would be the same item but would not need to be precisely identical (for example a replacement for a wooden coffee table would need to be the same size, model and type of wood, but the pattern of the wood grain would not need to be identical).
Where you are unable to provide the same goods as a replacement, nothing prevents you from offering an alternative, but you cannot force the consumer to accept. Similarly the consumer cannot force you to offer an alternative.
FAQ 20 Am I allowed to offer non-identical goods as a replacement? You cannot force the consumer to accept an alternative to a straight replacement; but equally, the consumer cannot force you to offer an alternative. However, you and the consumer could, of course, agree that non-identical goods are acceptable as a replacement when the consumer comes to you for a replacement.”

Can you help have a problem with my underfloor heating 10 year warranty with company but they’re blaming installation team and won’t make good any area that needs removing to gain access. Installing team guarantees work for 10years also. Both not taking ownership

Your contract is with the company that you paid, Carl. The terms and conditions will be set out in the warranty. If the heating is less than six years old (five in Scotland) then you also have rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

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Amp was purchased on line as a refurbished item it is over 8 months old and has developed a fault can i demand a refund

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Your rights depend on whether you bought the goods from an online retailer or an individual, Frank: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/second-hand-goods

Whichever applies, the description of the goods must be correct. As Duncan says, you need to check the details of the guarantee.

I bought an LG surround system 3 years ago and last week the sub woofer began to smoke. LG sent an engineer out who couldn’t find the fault so they aren’t saying as it’s isn’t under warranty there isn’t nothing else they can do. Can I pursue this further?

“are saying as it isn’t under warranty, there is nothing else can they do”

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Tina – If you go back to the Introduction to this Conversation and click on the red link to the “free faulty goods tool” it should help you pursue a claim against the retailer. You bought your system three years ago, before the Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force, so your consumer rights are protected by the Sale of Goods Act 1979. For Which? guidance on that go to :

Ann Del-Pizzo says:
22 March 2017

I purchased a Vax window cleaner and assembled it according to the handbook and then checked with the Vax website and followed the instructions but it isn’t working. They have asked me to forward photos and to pay an admin. charge of £3.99 for a replacement. I feel this is unreasonable. If they supply faulty goods, surely they should replace same without charge?

If, as I presume you did, you bought the window cleaner recently then you have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which you should take up with the retailer. If Vax was not the retailer then you need to contact whoever you bought the product from. If you go back to the Introduction at the top of this page and click on the Consumer Rights Act link in red it will give you guidance on how to proceed and what you are entitled to according to the time since you bought the appliance.

I bought a Zanussi oven and when the oven door exploded all over my kitchen when I was cleaning it with a sponge and washing up liquid. According to Zanussi I must have damaged the oven and the glass in the doors isn’t covered by their guarantee. Disgraceful.

Hi! Could somebody please give me an advice on how to return a faulty good to the local retailer shop. I have bought Lenovo laptop yesterday on 7/04/2017 in PC Curry World here in Brighton. When I first unpackaged my laptop and since the very first moment I turned on my laptop, I found that the laptop runs very noisily. Not sure, if the noise comes only from the fan inside the laptop, or the Hard Drive, or from both. I went to the store today to claim the full refund and the staff inside the shop told me that they will undertake a stress test first to identify whether the laptop has a fault or not. After the stress test, the engineer has told me that the machine is all fine and does not have any faults. But, I disagree with their decision as I find my laptop to run very loudly. I tried to convince them that I find it very uncomfortable to work with this laptop and I can not carry on my studies because of that. At the end, the staff at the shop kept refusing to provide a full refund to me claiming that laptop is not noisy and works fine.
I have a one year warranty from the manufacturer and all the receipts with original box and packaging. Could somebody tell me, please what legal actions I can undertake to get a full refund from the shop? I am aware that under Consumer Rights Act I have 30 days to get a full refund if my product comes out to be faulty, but the shop keeps insisting that laptop is not faulty and refuses to provide a full refund.
Thanks in advance!!
P.S Sorry for my bad English, I tried to explain the situation as clearly as I could.

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Hi Islam Bazarbek and Duncan,

Sorry to hear of this problem.

In my experience, some laptop fans are noticeably noisy, while a lot of others are not. From all the ones I’ve used and from all ones I’ve taken apart, I’ve never encountered any actually defective or improperly fitted fans.

So the problem here may not actually represent an actual fault as such, as opposed to a design compromise, of the kind one can readily see with goods built down to a price. In a noisy shop environment like PC World, it must be quite hard to hear the sound from any given individual device.

Hence if the offending laptop could be changed for a quieter model, that could be a better way forward.

Islam has 30 days to reject faulty goods: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

If a fan is running fast enough to be noisy, the battery life is likely to be poor.

The matter to be determined is whether this lap top is faulty. One simple way would be to ask Currys to demonstrate another sample of his Lenovo laptop on a quiet space and compare fan noise.

Hi guys!! Thank you very much for given advices, really appreciate that!! Yes, you are right my laptop is definitely of bad and inferior quality. When I was purchasing it I asked the staff so many times, whether this model of laptop is suitable for me as a student or not. They said it is the best option for me and that it is quite. They stated clearly that it can become noisy only when under a heavy load or when multitasking. But it is noisy since the first very moment I turned it on when no applications are open or any software running. It is just noisy when it is idle. When I went to the shop, the engineer conducted his so-called independent test and concluded that there are no faults at all, with which I strongly disagree. This model of laptop should be almost inaudible and contrary to that, I can clearly hear my fans and hard drive.
It is definitely difficult as DerekP has said, to determine in a noisy environment like in PC Curry World whether the laptop is noisy or not. Probably, this is the reason the engineer haven’t noticed any particular loud noise coming from the laptop. But, definitely as malcolm r said, I have to ask the Currys to take a sample of this Lenovo laptop and compare it with mine.
Anyway, as wavechange said, under Consumer Rights Act I have 30 days to demand a full refund if find the product that I bought is of unsatisfactory quality or unfit for purpose. In which case, clearly, the laptop is of bad quality and unfit for purpose, which is in my case is studying.
I am planning to visit Currys tomorrow and explain them the situation again and also state my rights. I am relly desperate, to be honest because I hoped that this laptop will be fine for me and I have deadlines looming and I have to sort out my assignments. Before my decision to buy this laptop, I made some research and was very careful in choosing the right laptop for me, but this laptop came about very painful and unfortunate for me.

Hi again Duncan Lucas,
Thanks for replying. My Lenovo laptop does not have any SSD, but it just has 1TB HDD. When I take my laptop closer to my ear and listen to it, I can notice some strange sounds coming from the hard drive, some kind of tapping sound coming up. I think that I actually shouldn’t hear any particular noise coming up, the machine has to be quite and comfortable to work with.

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Wa-Alaikum Salam Duncan. Thanks for your reply. I did not buy my laptop at a bargain price, I think I bought it for full price. I paid 379.99 pounds for it. My old laptop which is 3.5 years old now have both SSD and HDD, and HDD on it was always very quiet for the past 3.5 years. I think there is a problem with hard drive on my lenovo laptop. I can clearly hear its spinning which I shouldn’t as it is a brand new laptop. This new Lenovo laptop has 6th generation i3 processor and DDR4 memory and I don’t think it is an old model now.

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Yes, Duncan no problem at all, I can provide you with the full model number and etc. Maybe, the price I paid for my Lenovo laptop is not dear, but I bought it initially only for work and studies, as I don’t game at all and hoped that this Lenovo laptop will be enough just for working with Microsoft Office, Acrobat reader and web browsing and I explained that to Currys before purchasing it and stated clearly to them that it has to be quite so it will be comfy for me to work with it. Anyway, here is the model number: Lenovo Ideapad 15-ISK (i3-6100u), Model name: 80SR. Thank you very much for your help and it is really nice to know that there are some people who are ready to help.

“Personally I would never spend money on a now obsolete mechanical hard -drive , my PC has two solid -state drives and its 4 years old , even a 500G SSD isnt dear the prices have come down fast. I suspect they are trying to get rid of old models or you bought it cheaply at a bargain price.”

As an aside, I’m sure mechanical drives are still in production and use, counting as current rather than obsolete technology. When the price of SSDs falls to that of mechanical drives, this may change…

I have quite a few external USB drives – if these aren’t performing correctly, they can be heard to make either clicking noises or chirping noises. I have seen this caused by internal failure of the drive or by insufficient power being available via the USB cable.

I don’t think the traditional drive is going anytime soon; I use 4TB drives and at a cost per Gb they’re far, far cheaper than SSDs at the moment. That will change over time, of course, but for the moment using the SSD as a start-up drive while the Mechanicals act as mass storage seems the best option.

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Yes, it is hard to find a laptop with this spec and I even couldn’t find any discussions about fan noise on particular model of my laptop in Lenovo forums… I guess I am the only with this problem

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“lasts longer than a mechanical drive…”

I wonder if the jury is still out on that one…

I still have some working IDE drives that came out of Windows 98 era PCs. They aren’t now in regular use but they haven’t worn out either…

Also I would suspect the noise might be the fans and not the drive.

There’s plenty of references to Lenovo fan noise online.

My Lenovo X201 is whisper quiet. At least while surfing W?C I can only hear its fan if I put my ear to the hot air outlet – and then I can feel the heat too, from the blast of warm air onto my lughole.

Quite a few of my other laptops have (or had) noticeable fan noise. Whether or not that’s a problem depends on the use and on the background noise level.

I am hoping someone can offer some advice.

I bought a pair of dining chairs on 30/8/17. Last week the base of the seat on one of the chairs snapped. The chairs have only been used a handful of times since they were delivered in September.
I have contacted the company we bought them from and they have said because the fault wasn’t reported within 5 days of receipt of the goods, we would have to pay for any replacement parts as it would be classed as user damage. Clearly that part wasn’t of high quality. Where do I stand in terms of trying to get a replacement?

Martin says:
3 February 2018

The chairs if sold in the UK by a UK supplier are subject to various consumer protections – for up to 6 years after purchase within the EU. Not least, they are ‘guaranteed’ to be of merchantable quality and suitable for purpose. A seat being sat upon and not otherwise misused in the 4 months you had it is fair use. It shouldn’t break. So you seem to have a claim against them for replacement or satisfactory repair.

Martin is right, Sarah.

You might like to read the Which? guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which explains it all. See –

More comprehensive guidance on the Consumer Rights Act 2015, with examples, is given here:
If a fault occurs within the first 6 months it is assumed to be there upon delivery. What you may have to show is there has been no misuse or abuse of the chairs.

The CRA over-rides any of the manufacturers “conditions” or guarantee. Quoting your rights under the Act, and your intention to use it in pursuit of your claim, may well produce a change of heart.

I see that the Which? advice guides for white goods: “How to buy the best xxxxx” now carry the message that if you are planning to replace a faulty product, you might be eligible to a repair, replacement or refund even if the product is out of warranty. This seems to be linked to the tool that produces a letter based on information about the product and fault.

I have a faulty Sony Camera. Argos say as its 14 months old I need an independant report. I have been to a camera shop who said they would just send it to Sony. Sony want £117 to inspect and repair! Guess they have me cornered then. The camera was £199 new.