/ Shopping

The big faulty goods fob off

Shopping cartoon

With Christmas just around the corner, you might be shopping for new tech, be it a TV or laptop. Most will come with a one- or two-year warranty, but do retailers know your rights if a fault develops after this?

Did you know that if your tech develops a fault later in life, you might still be able to get the retailer to repair or replace it, even if the warranty has expired?

Under the Sale of Goods Act, goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If you find a fault with your product before it would be reasonably be expected to do so you can claim against the store rather than the manufacturer, even beyond the warranty. And you have six years to take a claim to court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; in Scotland you have five years.

However, we found some of the biggest UK retailers fobbing off customers by giving incorrect information on their rights.

Going undercover into stores

In our latest undercover investigation, we rigged up a team of mystery shoppers with recording devices to find out what customers are being told by shop staff about their rights.

Our mystery shoppers visited or called popular online and high street retailers on 12 occasions – including the likes of Amazon, Currys, Apple and John Lewis. Our shoppers ask what they should do with a faulty laptop or TV that was bought from that store, but was just out of warranty. You can see what happened in our undercover video:

Do retailers know your rights?

In 56 out of the 72 visits staff gave a clear impression that we didn’t have any rights against the retailer or referred us to the manufacturer. Of the 12 calls made to Amazon, nine were rated very poor by our consumer lawyer, while both John Lewis and Argos had seven visits rated as very poor.

Our investigation found that Amazon, Argos, Euronics and John Lewis could be breaching consumer protection regulations because information given by their staff was misleading. This could leave people out of pocket if they pay to get items repaired themselves when the retailer could be responsible, depending on the circumstances.

Currys and Apple were ranked the highest in our investigation, but both still only received satisfactory ratings for five of the 12 visits on the information we were given. None of the retailers scored an excellent rating.

Have you tried to return a faulty product?

Our latest survey found just one in five people correctly said that the retailer could be responsible for a faulty product after the warranty’s expired. So stores must ensure that their staff are giving the correct information.

We put our findings to the retailers and will be following up our research over the coming months to help ensure you’re consistently getting the correct information from staff.

In the meantime we want to know if you’ve been in a similar situation. Have you ever tried to get a faulty product repaired or replaced by a retailer after the warranty has expired?

John Emerson says:
27 December 2013

You may have read in the National Press about a man who bought a JG Smart TV and was surprised, soon after installation to find that he was personally being targeted with adverts. Being an expert in IT he somehow monitored the TV’s performance via his computer to prove that the TV was in fact spying on him.
He took this up at first with the retailer and then with JG who initially denied any knowledge of this but eventually JG admitted that they do in fact monitor what we are up to to target us with adverts that may be of interest. Samsung have now admitted that they do the same.
There was a suggestion that these smart TV’s also have built in micro cameras to monitor our behaviour.
What are the laws on privacy?. Surely this sort of thing ranks alongside unwanted phone calls, where is this constant spying going to end?
Why do TV, Smart Phone etc., manufacturers believe that we need to be bombarded with this rubbish? Of course if this is all true these TV’s are a godsend to the public offices who seem to have a desperate need to spy on us all.
I understand a further problem with Smart TV’s is that you can’t download security software onto them and therefore you could be very vulnerable to hacking.
Perhaps Which? could investigate what is going on.


I assume you meant an LG smart TV – never heard of JG. If this kind of spying is in fact going on via smart TVs, it is indeed worrying, though given that a smart TV is best thought of as an extension to your computer, then it is perhaps not very surprising. As you say, this needs a thorough investigation by Which?, so that we can all find out exactly what is going on, what the implications are etc. Also – this is too big an issue to confine the information to Which? readers, it needs much wider publicity.


I bought a top-of-the-range ASUS laptop from a business called Trade Direct UK via Amazon.
Within 9 months the machine failed.
The machine has a 1 year warranty.but the seller, despite being asked, has not provided an invoice.
ASUS say they will repair the machine but need an invoice as proof of purchase.
With no positive response from the seller, I asked Amazon for the address of Trade Direct UK.
Their response is we only have their e-mail address.
Surely Amazon are obliged to ensure that the sellers using their facilities abide by the Distance Selling Regulations…?
Can anybody offer any advice in this respect…?

Stanjackos says:
2 January 2014

Amazon show a telephone number for this company – listed under tradedirect.me details


The distance selling regulations certainly do apply – and you do not need to deal with Asus, the manufacturer. Your contract for the transaction was with the seller, Trade Direct UK. There should have been a packing note supplied with the laptop when it was delivered, showing their details, but after all this time, it has no doubt been mislaid, but you should be able to track them down, perhaps through the payment record, via your bank. Trade Direct will certainly have a record of the sale and if you paid by credit card, then the card issuer has equal responsibility for the goods purchased. Good luck.

Stanjackos says:
2 January 2014

If you made the order online via Amazon did you not get a confirmation email of your order/invoice.

Robert says:
2 January 2014

I once bought some engine oil from the Derby branch of Halfords I told assistant my registration number of my car and they got the oil that I needed . When I got home I put some of the oil into my cars engine and noticed it was a different colour to what I normally use so I went on their website and did a check myself and noticed they’d given me completely synthetic engine oil instead of part mineral part synthetic. So I went to my local branch of Halfords in Ilkeston and told them and they refused to swap it because he was not bought from their store as it had been open so I had to drive all the way back to Derby to get it changed


Fully synthetic oil is better for your engine than mineral or part synthetic, part mineral. It will cost more of course, but it offers the best protection. Of course, you need to ensure you buy the right grade, as recommended by the car manufacturer, but most now recommend fully synthetic. It is, however, surprising that Halfords would not exchange the oil, just because it was a different branch.