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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!

Comments

KennethWatt says:
” … six months is plenty long enough for almost all defects to manifest.”
——————————–
1)….. Plenty of justification for all guarantees to be cut from 12 to six months.
2)….. Proof that any item which is found faulty after that initial 6 months has been subject to ”abuse”, (like Mr Cameron’s pig’s head ?) and the complainant should be charged and prosecuted for attempted fraud?

Its getting to that stage now Josef – Customer just bought this product from you an hour ago and now its faulty . Retailer–lifts phone dials –999 -HELP !!! I have got a “fraudster” in my shop ,its an emergency – Cameron has just lowered the guarantee to zero at the latest cabinet meeting to “protect ” the Manufacturers so come at once – Police -Yeeees sir got to keep “Law and Order ” especially for BB ,we arent here for the “riff-raff ” squeal of tyres as they hurtle out the police station knocking down a few people as they go at 80 MPH . Is this the criminal sir ,yes Officer demands his money back -right Sonny Jim its jail for you -police station – “criminal ” “trips ” down stairs sorry about that (not ) as it leaves him injured . Its getting worse out there .

+ 1
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I bow to you. MASTER !

Thanks Josef ,all donations to the poor-sick-old of this country ,somebodies got to stand up for them.

Ultimately, guarantees are there to help the retailer and the manufacturer gain your custom, as opposed to encouraging you to spend your money elsewhere.

So one year is an easy and obvious length for guarantees. If, however, a product is intended to “last a lifetime” then a longer guarantee is appropriate.

Malcolm wrote: “A poor quality component, a poor design where something may wear or abrade slowly or be subject to a little more heat than it should and become brittle, for example (just examples, please don’t shoot them down) may well take considerably more than 6 months to cause a problem. This is why “durability” (qualified by reasonable considering such matters as cost) is a separate criterion.”

I agree, but obviously it is necessary to establish that this is the cause of the failure. Instead of denying responsibility for faulty goods, perhaps retailers should invite us to provide evidence that the failure is due to a poor quality component, etc. If it obvious that a visible component such as a hinge or door catch is flimsy compared with similar products, then a report might not be necessary.

If the existence of a substandard component is a known problem with that model then an internal examination might not be necessary, but be aware that different faults can cause the same symptoms.

Let’s have a look at the advice provided on the Which? website: which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product#link-7

If the retailer refuses to help

If you’re having problems and the shop won’t refund or repair or replace your goods then it should be reported to your local Trading Standards department as they are breaching your statutory rights.

It’s worth telling the shop that you’re going to do this as this could mean your complaint is then dealt with.

If the retailer fobs you off, or blames the manufacturer, you might want to take your complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman.

You might also want to consider using your guarantee or warranty.

Has anyone tried taking their case to Trading Standards, or if TS refuses to help, the Consumer Ombudsman?

Meanwhile what do you do about your washing, your frozen food, your faulty phone, while you wait, and wait, for Trading Standards (or, more likely, are diverted to the CAB) or the Ombudsman to reply, let alone decide. There has to be a better system where genuine claims can be dealt with sensibly. Which? could, I believe, do a lot more the both clarify, and help, this situation.

We should not need to use statutory bodies to resolve run-of-the-mill issues. If a retailer refuses to comply with SoGA and the CRA they are breaking the law. They should warned they may be prosecuted. When they understand that they must take their legal responsibilities “seriously ” (a word much used by those who get caught out) I’d expect a more co-operative relationship between retailer and customer.

Equally, if a customer fraudulently makes a claim, they should also be warned they may be prosecuted.

Malcolm – Here is the current advice from Which? regarding goods that are more than six months old.

After the first six months the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time of delivery.

In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.

You have six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and five years in Scotland.

This doesn’t mean that a product has to last six years – just that you have this length of time in which to make a claim if a retailer refuses to repair or replace a faulty product.

You might be fortunate in dealing with a retailer that will effectively offer goodwill, but I am as sure as I can be that you cannot force a retailer to offer a remedy without evidence that you have a valid case.

In the meantime I will be looking for offers of longer warranties.

“After the first six months the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time of delivery.”. This ignores what I regard is a quite separate requirement under “quality” in both SoGA and CRA – and that is reasonable durability. Lack of Durability does not require an isolated manufacturing fault. It can be caused by poor design, poor assembly, poor choice of components for example – in other words deficiencies caused by the manufacturer that lead to a working life that is shorter than is reasonable .

The OFT’s “Sale of goods Act Explained” for retailers says:

“Your contract with the customer
Under the Sale of Goods Act, when you sell something to a
customer you have an agreement or contract with them……
The Act says that to conform to contract goods should
be of satisfactory quality.
quality of goods includes
– appearance and finish
– freedom from minor defects (such as marks or holes)
– safe to use
– in good working order
– durability
durability – the durability requirement is that the item should
work or last for a reasonable time but it does not have to
remain of satisfactory quality. For example, a pair of wellington
boots should stay waterproof but does not have to keep its
brand new appearance.”

“Durability” and “at the time of delivery” are incompatible concepts so the test of durability either before or after six months is surely a question of what is a “reasonable” time in the case of the specific purchase [having regard to any claims made in support of it, the price of it, the wear and tear to which such a product would normally be subjected, and – to some extent in my opinion – the reputation of the brand]. That it hasn’t lasted is a matter of fact; its untimely demise would need to be considered against those criteria by whoever makes the decision – ultimately the Court I suppose. There can be no requirement to prove that the product was lacking in durability at the time of delivery so I would contend there is no burden of proof on the part of the purchaser at any time within that “reasonable period”, which could be several years in most cases.

John. exactly the point I keep trying to make – well, my opinion anyway. “Fault” (at time of purchase) and “durability” are entirely different criteria and should be considered in different ways.

“Fault” implies that a perfectly good design of product made well with good quality parts has, in an isolated example, a bearing say with a crack in it. This causes the product to fail. Most of the other products made have perfectly sound bearings.

“Durability” implies that a bearing specified for the product is made of a material that wears too quickly. All the products in that batch are fitted with these bearings. A number of these products fail more quickly than they should. Not a component fault, but a badly chosen component.

Should the consumer suffer because the manufacturer had specified, or accepted, an inadequate bearing in an otherwise well-specified product? I do not see why the consumer should have to take all the consequences of the manufacturers poor decision.

If you are intending going to the small claims court to make a claim for inadequate durability then it would be useful to have established which component has failed and as much as possible concerning why this has happened. A strong case is vital. If you win you could recover costs of getting the opinion of an expert, whereas if you lose you might have to pay the retailer’s costs.

Here is information about the process from Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-rights/legal-system/taking-legal-action/small-claims/#h-before-applying-to-the-court

Saying that you intend to take a matter to court may fix minds, and this is how I recovered money that I had been charged for not repairing my TV. The company had claimed they had replaced a part, yet they refused to make a refund for parts and labor because they had spend ‘a lot of time’ on my TV. As soon as I mentioned the Small Claims Court and that I had kept the evidence of the fraudulent charge, the shop assistant said they would speak to the owner and a cheque was pushed through my letterbox that evening.

I wonder if there are any past cases we could study to help pursue our own claims, perhaps Richards v J Lewis over the matter of an expensive washing machine that lacked durability.

I doubt many people want to have to go to court to pursue a claim. I suspect the idea that it is the only way to get an legitimate redress under the Acts puts most people off pursuing a claim beyond the initial brick wall put up by some retailers. I certainly would think twice about spending time and money on that route, despite believing I have a valid case.

This is wrong – to have this kind of obstacle in the way of some consumers being fairly treated. So we need to put in place a system that works (for both retailer and consumer).

Firstly, both sides need to be helped to understand their rights, obligations and realistic outcomes. That might help ensure realism prevails.

Second, we need to establish the ground rules for claims – in particular to become more specific about how long we should reasonably expect different products (and at different prices) to last without failure, so both sides have a more factual starting point.

And third we need to establish a way of dealing with disputes that cannot be resolved between consumer and retailer – perhaps mediation as a next to last resort. The final sanction of court proceedings will, hopefully, be rarely needed.

Clearly much of this requires work from someone representing consumers, and retailers. Who should do the work on behalf of consumers?

Malcolm – I had hoped that the Consumer Rights Bill and subsequent Act might help make life simpler for the average consumer, not just those of us prepared to put in some efforts on our own behalf. I don’t think it was Which? that drew our attention to the new legislation and I still don’t know what contribution they and possibly others made to represent consumers’ interests.

In order to be fair to both parties it is necessary to inspect faulty goods to establish what is faulty and the likely cause. That can be difficult and expensive, especially if it involves a visit from a field service engineer (e.g. washing machine) or extensive diagnostic tests (e.g. computer or car). Would you be happy to pay for this testing, especially if there is evidence of misuse and there is no justification for a free repair?

wavechange, if there was dispute with a retailer that could not be resolved using common sense then I would be happy to pay for an expert’s report, providing it would be accepted by the retailer and, if it was in my favour, providing the retailer repaid the cost.

The problem with the law is that it is not simple. What we need is organisations to help us interpret and use the legal protection these Acts give us (and the retailer) without having to resort to costly and protracted action.

I am disappointed that Which?, as a representative of consumers, has not made its position clear as to how it interprets the Acts and how it can help consumers use them.

Have you ever tried to find Trading Standards? I did, once, and discovered that, for all intents and purposes, they don’t exist. You have to go through CAB. CAB, of course, are overwhelmed.

You do have to go through Citizens Advice to be put in touch with Trading Standards. CA records details of problems before referring you to TS or whichever department is relevant. I have found CA extremely helpful, but unfortunately TS has not pursued any of the cases that I have reported. When I reported my rogue TV repair company (mentioned above) they made it clear that they would not do anything unless they received other reports in the near future. In a number of other cases I just heard nothing more, even though a couple of cases related to possible safety issues.

My guess is that the efficiency of CA varies a lot round the country, in the same way that Royal Mail is a disaster for some but others – like me – have no problem with the service. But I don’t know of people who are getting individual issues properly investigated by TS. I presume that TS focuses its limited resources on major issues such as the import of dangerous counterfeit goods in bulk.

Well my microwave broke down today and being a Co-op customer I tried them they were all Panasonic on the website I thought -good name and looked at the expensive SS model with Inverter -glowing reports on Panasonic customer reviews on many UK websites being a born skeptic I tried US ones including a US Which equivalent . Thank god I did-terrible-awful-shoddy even the dear ones -cheap plastic -inverter breaks down quickly -door hinges faulty and so on ,you know American expressions-unprintable . So still not sure I went to U Tube -not a place I usually go to as I asked =are Panasonic microwaves made in Japan – U Tube video –plays- its stamped on the front -made in Japan and then the presenter turns it sideways with the case removed showing transformer and inverter and it says — MADE in CHINA -thats right a big fat lie -its ASSEMBLED in Japan -parts MADE in China . Panasonic ruled out for me !!

A number are made (or were) in Wales.

With parts from China and goodness knows where else.

The country of origin is only where the last major process takes place and, by major that could be as “major” as fitting a door or a handle to it.

As a guide to or a badge of quality, it’s a poor guide I’m afraid.

K.

Kenneth -I remember the days when if it said -made in England/made in Britain then by heck it was made here from Murphy valve radios -BSA motorcycles whose electrical were made by Lucas also a massive manufacturer here (magdynos /lamps etc) a long list of closed down factories . Its just the word -made in – signifying since over 100 years -manufactured from top to bottom in this country this meaning sticks in the minds of people and as far as I am concerned its meaning is now corrupted . A product assembled in a country now gives no meaning as to its quality if the actual manufactured parts originate in another country just look at Germany and the German tradition of high quality engineering now some electricals are made abroad and complaints come in, in German websites as well as English speaking ones .

Kenneth, after checking around for microwaves I got up a UK business commercial wholesale company that deals with the public and their shop sells Samsung models using dual microwave generators, all SS , no rotating table -ceramic base- 1100W-no grills etc -3 year guarantee on the cafe model free delivery -next day ,catch ? you,ve guessed it PRICE -aint cheap even the one I like is over £300 they go right up in price to restaurant models approaching £1000 (continuous use ) with 10 year guarantee . BY the way in my travels I have found a website that tells me where a product is actually manufactured rather than just saying -made in ****** very eye opening ,not everything is made in China but many companies products arent made where they are advertised from .

Duncan, there was a very interesting legal case a few years back that caught my eye about designer handbags. Some Italian crew, one of the big “names”.

They were hauled over the coals as the bag part was made in China.

The handle of the bag was, yep, made in China.

They were all shipped to Italy where the handle was “hand stitched” to the bag.

Under EU and international law, it was perfectly legal to say that they were Made In Italy.

This because the last major process, joining the two main elements, was carried out in the declared country of origin.

For appliances, you can have pumps from Italy, motor from China, tank from Bulgaria, wiring loom from China, suspension components from Poland, door seal from Turkey and it’s all rattled together in Poland with “Made In EU” slapped on it.

Even if you have “Immer Besser” doesn’t guarantee all produced in Germany. More so than most, granted.

Korea seems to be fairly good for making almost all in Korea but even they’ve started using Chinese bits.

So even if you find out where it was actually screwed together, it’s still not a good guide really.

K.

Kenneth I was talking about where the parts are manufactured ,that ,and only that . is an indicator of its reliability . IT matters not where it is screwed together .monkeys could do that,if trained, the website tells you where the parts were Manufactured , or fully assembled as well as manufactured ,exactly like the UK used to be till our industry was flattened . I remember tripping over factories even near the centre of London ,in the 60,s, and just as many nationwide.

And now for something completely off-topic . I value the small things in life and was very touched by the lovely gesture by the Which Convo Team and especially Patrick of sending me their Which Luxury mince pies from a supermarket chain I like along with a Christmas card . I realise I am a bit of a “square peg in a round hole ” here but II am trying to conform ,but it is hard for a non-conformist . IT was in trepidation I opened the box ,expecting a loud bang but was greatly pleased with the contents and reading as well the lovely words inside . Wishing ,you Patrick and the Which Convo team all the very best at Christmas -2015 and a very Happy New Year in -2016- THANKS !!!

You are very welcome, and thank you for your kind words Duncan. The same goes to Malcolm and DeeKay below. It’s nice to say thank you to some of our most active contributors of 2015 and I wish I could have written a note to even more of our community members.

Since you’ve all been so nice, I’ll allow these off-topic comments for once – let’s just hope the mince pies aren’t faulty and you don’t need to return them 😉 (Or maybe I should hope for that, so that I can eat them myself!)

@patrick, if the mince pies prove not to be durable (that is, not last as long as they should when the family comes round), can Which? legal help me under the Consumer Rights Act?

Or lose their best buy status Malcolm ?!!?.

Ditto the other comments. Thank you Patrick, Ali, Katie, Shaun, Adam, Lauren and all at Which?. That was a lovely gesture. Hope you all have a happy Xmas and New Year.

🎅 🎄 🎁 🍗 🍸 🎆 😀

The ‘use by’ date gives a useful indicator of likely durability of foodstuffs if correctly stored. I think it’s covered under the Consumable Rights Act, Malcolm. 🙂

He He! and Ho Ho Ho wavechange. Have a Happy Christmas. Don’t eat them all at once. 😀

Thank you Malcolm – and the same to you. I now have an idea why the postman left a card when I was attending Christmas celebrations. It can’t be the usual postman who leaves my post with neighbours.

I’ve been to Royal Mail, and thanks very much to Patrick and his colleagues. Keep up the good work and thanks for your tolerance in the past year.

wavechange, out of interest, how many miles is it to your Royal Mail depot?

About two miles.

I put my scrooge hat on and wondered, with a typical running cost around 50p a mile, whether you might be out of pocket. Not the way to look at a nice Christmas gesture though.

Kind thoughts far outweigh financial considerations for me, Malcolm.

This thread possibly explains a “something for you card” I found on the doormat when returning from a few days away. I have not been expecting a package so was tempted to let it return to sender but I have now activated the Royal Mail’s on-line re-delivery service which works very well in our area and shall look forward in eager anticipation to a fruity consignment tomorrow. Or it might be another oversized calendar from a commercial organization – I got so fed up with walking all the way to the Post Office only to receive an unwanted piece of marketing junk that I gave up some years ago. The combination of the Royal Mail getting its act together and the power of the internet now makes it possible to arrange these things to suit one’s own convenience, which is where I shall probably be through most of Christmas.

How many Mince Pies were there?
Were they wrapped in silver paper?

Josef, you’ll need to send the Min Spies out to get that information from me.

If only there were silver paper.

Happy Christmas.

Drat this inverse chrono system
————–
duncan lucas says:
And now for something completely off-topic ……..

—————————————–

JosefKafka says:
How many Mince Pies were there?
Were they wrapped in silver paper?
.

=====================

Josef -do you mean Bronfenbrenner,s Ecological Systems Theory ? Environmental events and transitions occurring throughout a childs life that influence him/her to end up part of the Civil Rights movement- IE-sociohistorical events ?

No.
I prefer
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory of Development

Run in tandem with Piaget and Vygotsky.

But we’d better stop this in case ‘Sir’ catches us wandering off topic again.
.

Hear hear Duncan. They do a great job and I join in wishing them all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. As I do to all those who participate in these convos. We learn a lot and much of it is entertaining. 🙂 🙂

And from me. Again the same thoughts as Duncan. The small things are what touches one soul and the Mince pie’s will touch our tummies not doubt.
Yes maybe I’m out on a limb sometimes like others but with the little gift it lets us now that our contributions are welcomed and thanks to the team and Patrick for the thoughts.
What is maybe more touching is the card being hand written and thanks so much for that.
I try and make points where I feel that the facts of which I know need making.
Sometimes it doesnt go down so good, sometimes they are welcomed but either way I’m having my say.
To everyone both the Which Team and other contributors have a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.
Dee

mandy says:
14 December 2015

Can I ask, what are my rights when goods ordered are damaged and replacements haven`t been delivered. Over a two month wait. I paid cash Can I have a full refund in Cash?

I’m sure someone will come along with more legal eagle views/knowledge than myself but if there is one thing I learned is to pay by credit card if there is even the remotest chance of something breaking.
There are places that insist on charging for credit card use and often I’ll walk away especially if its retail. If its my insurance broker or my dentist etc then I understand. I know they are legally tied to deliver the goods/service unless they are just about to go out of business which is unlikely
All other machines, equipment, parts its either CC or PP.
Thats my tuppence worth, I’m sure there will be others
Dee

DeeKay says:
There are places that insist on charging for credit card use and often I’ll walk away especially if its retail
===============
Does the trader just shrug, or do they back off and
dump
the surcharge
hump?

I have been prompted by the staff to return to the counter on occasion but I’m more determined to walk out the door then anything else so I’m not easy turned
I have been told several times that “we’ll waver” the charges this time Sir.
I watched a man in an insurance brokerage dig his heels in real firm and the assistant went and spoke to someone and came back with the same comment. He made it abundantly clear he’d go elsewhere if he were charged for credit card payment and they had the MC sticker up so he could see no reason for them to refuse.
I though if he can get off with it so can I although unlike that man I do consider the business’s position as in do I need protecting and if I dont think I do I’m willing to pay by debit or cash.
I’m not out to use only a credit card, I just like the way a credit card purchase works especially if something goes wrong quickly. Yes I know we are supposed to be entitled to this and that but I have on occasion found it useful.
I was in business for many years and I would never have dreamed of trying to pass the charges onto the customer. The amount of credit card transactions I had outweighed any possibly disadvantage of the % they had to get. In business the banks charge for depositing cash albeit initially lower than card rate but even cash is not free per se.
So yes Jo, give it a go. Threaten to walk. Sure it’ll do no harm theres more fish in the sea these days

Hi there Mandy,

My understanding is that under the Sale of Goods Act the retailer needs to repair or replace the product within a reasonable amount of time – I would say that if you’ve unexpectedly had to wait two months, then that doesn’t qualify as reasonable and so you may be able to claim your money back. More information can be found here: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/sale-of-goods-act

From Which? online:

“16 December 2015

When you look at a dishwasher in a shop or online, you have no way of telling whether it will quickly develop faults. You’ve told us you expect dishwashers to last for nine years – but how many actually do?

At Which? we’ve surveyed more than 9,000 people, collecting data on their appliances to find out which brands can be trusted to last. Two dishwasher brands achieved impressive results with four out of five of their dishwashers remaining fault free after ten years. ”

So durability is being achieved, and clearly people are buying better quality products and getting the benefit.

In order for a survey of dishwasher reliability to be useful it should ask how much the machine has been used. Hopefully the EC will push for the manufacturers of mechanical appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers to show the number of cycles that machines have completed so that users can be more aware of reliability.

It would also be interesting to find out why people dispose of electrical goods. I’ve read that much of what finds its way to recycling centres is still in working order. I am not suggesting that Which? should collect this information.

Whilst it would be useful – and maybe Which? have collected this information – it is not necessary if you have a large enough sample. An average usage can then be used. It is most unlikely that those with the better brands use them much less than those with less reliable brands.

However, I would like to see Which? collect more specific data in their surveys.

What would also be useful would be to see how long different brands last without failure, how much repairs or replacements cost, etc. so we could see what the real cost of ownership was. A cheap machine, replaced or repaired might cost substantially more over say 6 years than a more expensive but more reliable machine. For most people that should point to a real “best buy”.

Apple combines the information about statutory rights, warranty and their own AppleCare cover in a single document: http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/ That’s commendable since it is more than most retailers provide. It does not mention the Consumer Rights Act but has obviously been updated to reflect the right to reject goods within 30 days, which was not defined in the previous legislation.

“After the expiry of this 6 month period, the burden to prove that the defect or non-conformity of goods with the contract existed on delivery generally shifts to the consumer.” There is no reference to durability. Current Which? advice makes no reference to durability. But the legislation does.

The current advice on the Which? website is: “If the retailer fobs you off, or blames the manufacturer, you might want to take your complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman.”

My understanding is that it’s normal to go to an ombudsman as a last resort. Is Which? serious that customers should do this every time a retailer tries to duck out of its legal rights. Can Which? give us one or two examples of cases taken to the ombudsman?

I’m not convinced that the advice to go to the ombudsman at this stage is fit for purpose. 🙁

Quite agree. It is local Trading Standards who should acquaint the retailer with their obligations. But as you have to go through CAB – and presumably a single complaint will be unlikely to result in action = it is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs.

All consumer issues start as “individual cases” where individual action may be needed. The Ombudsman has a service to offer when all else fails. “All else” needs to be made easily available to the consumer.

Yes indeed, and if the retailer is Amazon we know that they do not react to Trading Standards anyway!

Complaints about Trading Standards are certainly something to be dealt with by an ombudsman. Normally that would be at local level, I believe, but presumably there is a way making a national complaint if the problem with complaints about Amazon are being ignored more generally.

I see that National Trading Standards have seized 15,000 hoverboards that are electrically unsafe, for example with unfused plugs.

Quote from the Guardian this week:
“2011, the company ended a close working relationship it had built up with its primary trading standards authority in Slough. Many nationwide retailers, from eBay to Tesco, choose to keep in regular contact with a “primary authority” in order to make it easier to comply with trading standards laws and improve intelligence about regulatory matters. Amazon does not.”
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/dec/16/amazoncouk-banned-dangerous-weapons-found-sale#comment-65204402

It has been said that the reason appliances are less reliable is that we, the consumer, drive down prices and therefore quality and durability, and there is little demand for “quality” products. This survey (just a part) by Which? of consumers’ experience of their washing machines has this breakdown of brands (some of which are made by the same producer):

“All ratings ( meaning reliability ) , based on responses to a Which? member survey of 1,850 washing machine owners in September 2015 Sample sizes Miele 212, John Lewis 76, LG 45, Bosch 711, Siemens 58, AEG 69, Indesit 63, Zanussi 136, Hoover 41, Hotpoint 204, Whirlpool 38

Read more: which.co.uk/reviews/washing-machines/article/most-reliable-washing-machine-brands – Which?”

It would have been interesting if the price paid by those surveyed were known but, judging by the numbers it suggests that consumers are prepared to pay decent money. Look at how many Miele are included ansd Bosch has a large range of prices. I make the obvious cheap brands around 33% of the total. So maybe many do not want to only buy cheap? It may be of course that Which? members who respond are not representative.

It is a pity that Which? in these surveys do not give the actual trouble free life of the appliances so we can judge what we should expect. Perhaps this information is in the survey feedback but not analysed. If we knew whether life achieved correlated reasonably with price paid we might be nearer getting better information to help us buy. When you buy something you should consider the number of years (or cycles, or hours run e.g.) you are likely to get to establish the cost per year of ownership. BEUC want this added to the product label. A £600 washing machine that lasts say 6 years is “cheaper” than a £300 one that lasts 2 years.

diane baker says:
7 July 2016

Hiya. i bought some white wooden garden furniture from B and Q april last year. due to the fact we had a rubbish summer it was mostly covered up. In the winter i put it in storage in the shed.
I took it out for this summer to find all the think glossy paintwork is cracked all over the furniture and the back of the chair has dis coloured yellow. On the B and Q website many other people are having the same problem too. I have complained but all they had said is i need to go through the sale of goods act etc and i can get it inspected and a report put into them. if i keep the furniture they will give me £75 as a good will gesture. Not sure what i can do now. can anyone help please?

If the furniture is basically sound I would be inclined to take the £75 and use some of it to repaint it, if the appearance really matters that much. Otherwise I’d just use it as is. I don’t think I’d spend money on an expert’s report unless the furniture is so bad as to be unusable.

Marc says:
8 July 2016

Bought a bluetooth speaker from Zavvi.com, took 3 weeks to arrive and when it did it was damaged and there is a buzzing noise eminating from the speaker

Zavvi told me, and I quote

Dont worry about it

They then offered me £10 as a goodwill gesture

Sent by: You. 08 July 2016, 10:53

I told you previously I decline your incredible insult of an offer

Sent by: Zavvi UK. 08 July 2016, 12:05

Hello Marc,

Thank you for getting in touch about order 71722430.

I am sorry that you are not happy with the goodwill gesture that I have provided you with.

The goodwill gesture offered was increased from the previous offer of £10.00 credit. I have spoken with my colleagues who have agreed that this goodwill gesture is a suitable amount and we will not be increasing this offer any further.

Please confirm if you would like me to remove this credit from your account?

I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Kind regards,

Lucy Keatley
Customer Relations Executive

If the goods were faulty when supplied, the Sale of Goods Act allows you to claim a refund from the seller providing you act promptly. The Consumer Rights Act, which is applicable from October 2015, clarifies the situation by stating that goods must be rejected within 30 days, though that is not relevant in your case. Since you have notified the retailer of the problem it should not matter if more time has elapsed during correspondence. I suggest you ask for a returns label to avoid the need to reclaim carriage, but follow any advice such as getting proof of postage. Even if the company’s offer was an insult it’s best to avoid emotive terms.

Someone has pointed out that the CRA does not use the term “fault”. In fact, what it says is that a customer has the right to “reject” goods if they do “not conform to contract”. Non-conformance includes a number of grounds, including quality:
“(3) The quality of goods includes their state and condition; and the following aspects (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods—
(a) fitness for all the purposes for which goods of that kind are usually supplied;
(b) appearance and finish;
(c) freedom from minor defects;
(d) safety;
(e) durability.

I think Which? should be more proactive in explaining and upholding consumers rights. surely one of the main reasons to have a consumer champion is to help consumers with getting just treatment.

Why Which? are not helping Whirlpool drier customers to get sensible treatment is beyond me, until they explain their stance. Is Whirlpool too big?

That registered with me too, Malcolm, but I used the term ‘fault’ for simplicity. If I have to deal with an uncooperative sales assistant over consumer rights I do start quoting official terms, which is a good way of getting referred to the manager. I have found that it can help to take some printed information that confirms my rights.

I feel strongly that some companies are too big but see that as more of an intractable problem than getting the CRA to work effectively for consumers. Can I do a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what Which? are doing about the procrastination by both Whirlpool and Volkswagen, and of course these two-pin plugs?

I am pursuing Which? on Whirlpool, with little success so far; no more success with trading standards. I am also trying to find out what tests have been done on VW pre and post cheat to see if there is one basis here for determining individual and state compensation. In both cases through the relevant authorities/regulators and Which?. Which? also seem to have avoided involvement with 2-pin plugs. Are consumers being looked after?

Here was me thinking that Which? Convo was a team effort.

Don’t understand, wavechange. Could you expand?

Hi both, of course Which? Convo is a team effort. Without the comments made here we wouldn’t have heard all the awful case studies of people affected by Whirlpool’s dryer issues.

And we have been very busy on this. I hope to tell you more soon, but I just want to share that we have been putting a lot of pressure on Whirlpool. We are doing all we can and we certainly aren’t letting it slide – you may remember the amount of noise and coverage we got talking about this issue and challenging Whirlpool. It’s not something we’re going to let slide.

We’re also still working on VW – we don’t just update our supporters on what is happening, we are actively pressing and lobbying the company and the government. As you know, Richard Lloyd was in front of the Transport Select Committee about this not too long ago.

I have also shared updates with you on two-pin plugs: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/plugs-two-pin-british-amazon-electrical-appliances/#comment-1442370

We are doing all we can, and sometimes that requires lobbying face to face. As and when I know more I will of course tell you.

The trouble is that we often don’t know that effort is being put in, Patrick. Has anyone asked VW why they have not taken action, over nine months since they admitted the emissions problem?

I know Wave, I completely understand. I’m slapping my wrist and others for not properly keep you all up to date. #musttryharder

Thanks Patrick. It is just good to know that when we ask questions of Which? they are heard, and to know whether something is being done (or not). I have an odd case on the “community” where Which? have simply refused to answer what I believe to be a straightforward SoGA question. If there is a reason they could simply say, of email me if they don’t want to make a public comment. But a blank refusal…….?

I see many Convo contributors making constructive suggestions to Which? that may, or may not, prove useful. As hopefully part of a team with good intentions it would be nice to get feedback from Which?. I recognise you are kept very busy but surely it is worthwhile for your colleagues to look at positive suggestions and visibly work with the contributors; we can’t see what goes on otherwise and I would not like to see them give up by becoming disillusioned. I’m sure we all want to work towards seeing consumers treated more fairly.

Sorry if I’m a bit grumpy but I have a summer cold and have not got the energy to fill the bird feeders. Have a good weekend, and you too Malcolm.

Thanks wavechange. Too late for First Defence and other proprietary remedies? If it’s any consolation a couple of family members had rotten colds last week but the poorly bit suddenly disapppeared after 2 days and they are just left with the snuffles.

I’ve spoken to our campaigns team. Here’s a mini update for you:

We pulled together all of the hundreds Whirlpool cases shared here on Which? Convo with the government steering group. These have also been shared with these cases with the local Trading Standards. We met with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills where this issue was discussed.

Of course, it can be a challenge to get action as quickly as we would like but we are doing all we can with your support to progress this and improve the situation for Whirlpool customers.

PS. We’re looking into your Soga question, Malcolm.

@patrick Thanks Patrick. Hope you’re home for a nice weekend now.

@afrench, perhaps the intro should point out that “faulty goods” is a bit misleading. The case for rejection is wider than that implies – not conforming to contract – an example I gave in the previous post. Unless I have misread CRA? Implying that you have to prove the goods are “faulty” might put people off when other factors could also give them a legitimate claim.

Thanks Adam.

Zavvi -another flashy website company selling low end products , looks to be owned by the HUT.com group , offshore registered . I can understand why people buy from them and I know the Hut group got many awards for “innovation ” which is BB speak for good selling techniques , run on accountancy lines . Its par for the coarse in modern day Britain but I wouldnt touch it with a barge pole . To all the regular posters , its low end audio products , many coming from my favourite place of criticism even though the brands look European. If you are buying anything audio hi-fi I have a list of UK reputable dealers of English/Scottish origin who have been in business for many decades and who sell high quality , well made products with NO quibble return for FULL refund . I know where their products are made and many are British/ American top quality audio.

Natakie says:
18 July 2016

Hi, I brought Sony Bravia TV in March 15, 6 months later developed a fault.. Red flashing light won’t turn on.. Sony replaced it with the same model and now 8 months on this one has developed the same fault, spoke to Sony they tel me the 2 no tv warranty started from when the first one was purchased so it’s not under warranty and there’s nothing they will do! Any advice on this would be appreciated thank you

I’d quote the Sale of Goods Act (applicable when you bought the tv) which requires a product to be “durable”. A Sony is a reputable make and not cheap and nasty you should expect at least 6 years life. Applying this law requires the retailer to make redress either by replacing, repairing or refunding (perhaps a reduced level proportionate to the use you have already had). If they do not make an acceptable offer you can tell them you will take them to the small claims court. Hopefully they will see sense and settle. Strictly, your contract was with the retailer that sold you the tv.

Alternatively if you paid by credit card you could look for their help and get a refund.

Does Which? have a view on this? Durability (or rather getting redress when durability is lacking) really is something Which? should be tackling to make Natakie’s problem much easier to resolve satisfactorily.