/ Shopping

Undercover investigation: faulty advice on faulty goods

Cartoon of shop floor

Black Friday saw millions head to high street and online retailers to top up their Christmas gifts. Shop floor staff certainly know how to sell, but do they know your rights when it comes to returning faulty goods?

When we investigated this issue last year, we found many examples of poor and misleading advice. Many retailers told us that once a product was out of warranty it was no longer their responsibility and that we should seek redress from the manufacturer. However, under the Sale of Goods Act this is not strictly true, as your rights are with the retailer.

We were also told that inadequate staff training was the reason for some failings. So, when we repeated the investigation this year, we spoke to managers as well to see if their responses were any better.

The good, the bad and the acceptable

Just like last year, most of the shop-floor staff failed to adequately explain our rights and we were frequently told that the retailer is not responsible for faulty goods once they’re out of the warranty period.

However, there is some hope as we saw some improvement on last year. For example, Amazon’s ratings increased from one out of 12 calls being rated fair or better than fair last year, to six this year. There was a similar jump in ratings for Apple too, increasing from five out of 12 visits being rated fair or better than fair, compared to this year’s nine.

Catch me if you can

On the whole, managers appear to be a bit more clued up on the Sale of Goods Act than shop-floor staff. The only problem we had was getting hold of them. All the Apple managers we spoke to rated fair or better and 10 of the 11 Currys managers achieved the same feat – two of which were rated as excellent.

It’s unacceptable that you could be left out of pocket due to incorrect advice, so we’re continuing our discussions with retailers in an attempt to keep these ratings moving in the right direction. In the meantime you can head over to our Consumer Rights website to find out more on your rights, so that you can explain them to shop staff when you’re returning faulty goods.

Have you found you know more about your rights to return faulty products than the shop staff you speak to? Or have you always had a good experience getting your faulty goods sorted?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Hi Lewis. Can you tell us if the latest undercover investigation will feature in the January magazine? I well remember the previous report, which reflects my own experience with shops denying any responsibility for goods once the warranty has expired.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Yes this is in the January issue, from page 26

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks Patrick. I look forward to reading the article.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

My magazine arrived this morning. Once again, Which? has used mystery shoppers to ask about consumers’ rights, and once again the results were disappointing despite the stated intentions of representatives of the companies after the previous investigation.

My suggestion is that Which? mystery shoppers pose as partners of real people (e.g. Which? members) with real faulty goods and find out what happens. If the shop is breaking the law then there is the opportunity to take legal action. That might help address a problem that has existed for years and be very good publicity for Which?

I appreciate that the role of Which? is often to report consumer problems to the organisations involved and appropriate authorities, but here is an opportunity to achieve more. I presume that mystery shoppers have to be paid, whereas real people with real problems could be available free-of-charge or for the cost of a bit of legal advice.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

My mag has not yet arrived. However, I have repeatedly (sorry Which?) criticised Which? for their apparent lack of action to help consumers protect their rights. It seems to me that two core functions of Which? should be
1. To test popular products groups to weed out the good from the bad
and
2. To help consumers who have genuine problems with products get suitable redress.
For the latter they need to provide information on product durability to help pursue retailers fairly, and to ensure they understand and use their legal rights.
Wavechange – I’m not sure of your proposed strategy but think it is right! I would ask Which? to get members to contact them when they have faulty goods, advise them how to ask for suitable redress and follow up to see what happens. Build a picture of how the system works and then look at how to change it – lobbying and campaigning where necessary.
Nice-to-have aspects of Which? – india )or was it?), mortgage advisors, fringe campaigns, should take a second place to mainstream consumer problems.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks Malcolm. I think we just have to keep asking and keep hoping. If you want to stand for a place on Which? Council and make more input you would get my vote. I don’t know enough to comment on the activities or priorities of Which? but membership was growing steadily last time I looked.

The fact that people are being denied their rights when they take back faulty goods is a huge waste of natural resources and many don’t even try, preferring to buy new products, or conditioned to believing that new is best. I would like to see Which? reviews asking us to consider whether we really need a freezer, washing machine or car when products are reviewed.

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

I’ve worked in a few retail shops and not once have we had training in consumer rights. I learned more from watching BBC’s Watchdog, Don’t Get Done Get Dom, and using sites like Which.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

If a retailer breaches Regulation 5(4)(k) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 by telling you that you have no rights after the expiry of a manufacturer’s warranty with the intention that you pay for repairs for which it is potentially liable, then the retailer is committing an offence under Regulation 9, punishable under Regulation 13 by a fine and/or up to two years’ imprisonment. Why isn’t more enforcement action taken to bring errant retailers to justice?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Regarding Lee’s comment, it might not be realistic to expect all staff to know about consumer rights, but they should refer customers to someone who does.

I agree with NFH about the need for more enforcement action. I would like to see Which? helping some people take legal action against errant retailers.

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

“it might not be realistic to expect all staff to know about consumer rights, but they should refer customers to someone who does.”

I agree wavechange. That is my fault for not being clear, I have been a manager or team leader in each store i’ve worked in (been very lucky). They give you no training at all.

I remember one time when I was a CTS Night Manager i had this lad customer and his earphones broke after 3 months, the normal staff refused as it was after 14 days and as i wasn’t trained and felt sorry for him I ended up giving him a refund out of my own pocket. I’m such soppy fool sometimes!

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

(small correction to my last comment, I was never a full manager when working at Co-op food)

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Retail staff should be given proper training in consumer law before being allowed to interact with customers. I work in investment banking, and even as an external consultant, I have to sit through each bank’s training sessions about financial law that has little or no relevance to the tasks I carry out. Everyone working in each bank has to do this, regardless of their role. Retailers should take this similarly seriously and ensure that all their staff are properly trained in aspects of law that relate to their business.

I’m not suggesting that employees of retailers should be fined or imprisoned for their employer’s failure to train them, but that the retailers should put the same effort into training their staff about consumer law as they do for sales tactics.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

That’s a bit unrealistic, NFH. Bear in mind that some staff working in shops are temps rather than permanent members of staff.

What is wrong with ensuring that there is someone conversant with the law on duty at the customer service desk and asking other staff to pass on enquiries about goods that have failed outside the warranty?

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Likewise, many people work in banks on a temporary basis. Even external consultants like me have to go through each bank’s training regarding the laws and regulations that govern the banks. If the banks can train external and temporary staff (even for non-customer-facing roles), why can’t retailers do the same (at least for customer-facing roles)? If an employee is speaking to customers on the employer’s behalf, it is even more important that they have sufficient training to do so competently and in compliance with relevant legislation. I’m sure the retailers spend a lot of time training their staff to sell useless extended warranties, many of which are unnecessary as consumers’ statutory rights give similar protection, yet the retailers fail in their reasonable duty to train their staff on more important matters such as their customers’ legal rights.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I presume that there is some qualification or training needed to work in the banking sector, whereas I doubt that this is a requirement for all jobs in retail sales.

You make a good point about extended warranties, but perhaps the answer is that they should be sold towards the end of the warranty period rather than with the sale. I believe they are normally offer insurance cover arranged through another company, and owners will have a better idea if they should take out an extended warranty after having used the product and had the opportunity to look at the terms & conditions of the cover in the comfort of their own home.

I once reported a salesman to Comet for making fallacious claims about the frequency of failure of components in TVs when selling a warranty to another customer. Clearly the salesman knew very little about electronics. The store manager was equally ignorant but on the basis of his experience agreed that I was right.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Just like retail, there is no requirement for a qualification or training before working in the banking sector. Depending on the asset class, some trading roles require regulatory registration and qualification, but those jobs are the exception rather than the norm.

It is inexcusable that retailers fail to train their customer-facing staff properly in basic legal principles of their business. The banks do this, and retailers should do the same. My guess is that retailers expressly choose not to train their staff in consumer law, because they don’t want their staff to educate customers on consumer rights that might be detrimental to the retailer. Apple is one notable exception; I have noticed that Apple’s retail staff, telephone lines and web sites draw customers’ attention to consumer rights, although Apple misleadingly focuses on the two-year EU minimum limitation period imposed by Article 5(1) of Directive 1999/44/EC rather than on the England & Wales six-year limitation period imposed by Section 5 of the Limitation Act 1980.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I have previously complimented Apple for being the only company I know that gives details about customers’ legal rights on their website. There is mention of the six year (or five in Scotland) period in this summary: http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/

Sorry I was wrong about the banking sector.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

It seems that Apple have improved even further. Thanks for the link.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

The simple answer is to put the “law/rights” on a piece of paper and hand it to each member of staff; then there’s no excuse for not knowing or at least not knowing where to look for the answer.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It would be useful if Which? had a summary of consumers’ rights in a form suitable for easy printing – i.e. a pdf file rather than a web page.

Having worked in education I find it is helpful to back up what I say with something in writing.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I should like to see this information on display at every pay point and possibly on the receipt. We are familiar with the script that says “our refund or replace policy does not affect your statutory rights” but most customers do not what their statutory rights are.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Most stores employ a departmental manager who are paid more than ordinary sales staff to oversee problems with faulty goods so I fail to understand why they should not be fully trained and conversant with the law under The Sale of Goods Act.

I happen to know someone who works as a sales assistant with J Lewis who on one occasion had to deal with a very difficult customer (they do exist!). My advice to her in future was to refer such people to her departmental manager who are paid to deal with customer complaints when all rhyme and reason has been exhausted.

On another occasion this same person bought a gift from J Lewis for her husband (sorry I can’t remember exactly what it was) but it turned out to be faulty and when returning it she was told it would have to be returned to the manufacturer for repair. As it was a recent purchase I informed her that she could have requested a replacement or a refund and was not obliged to accept a repair. I was truly surprised to learn that a J Lewis sales assist had no knowledge of the Sale of Goods Act at the time.

I would agree with Lewis’s report the onus is on managers to either know consumer rights under the SoG’s Act or at least to brief their staff on such matters

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Oops! …………, Correction – Sales Assistant.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The basics of the Sale of Goods Act are not complicated. The old OFT produced a very useful summary for retailers called “The Sale of Goods Act explained” – it can be found here on the SoGA hub – http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140402142426/http://sogahub.tradingstandards.gov.uk
Since sales people – temporary, assistants or managers – are selling to us they should take the time to understand their responsibilities. Reading through this document is not onerous.
Maybe all shops should, by law, prominently display a large notice outlining the basics of SoGA and have a copy of this “explained” document next to it. Staff should then have no excuse for fobbing us off.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

The problem is that the Sales of Goods Act is not straightforward. For example, a £5 pair of shoes from Primark might be expected to fall apart after a year and the consumer would have little redress, whereas a £600 iPhone from Apple would be expected to last at least six years. The price paid and the nature of the goods are very relevant and make a significant difference to the reasonable time within which a consumer can seek redress.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

NFH, i’d suggest this is simply a problem with the range of products rather than the act – SoGA sets the legal framework within which a host of disparate products must be judged. My plea is that initially for mainstream expensive consumer products – e.g. domestic appliances – Which? sets standards for durability, price-related of course, so this aspect of SoGA can be better tackled at the retailer and then, if necessary, through the small claims court. I would also like Which? Legal to be more prominent in this area. It seems to me a key aspect of Which?’s role should be to help consumers when they are sold defective products or products that fail too quickly, particularly when out of guarantee.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

I don’t think you can even group all domestic appliances within the same durability criteria. For example, if you buy a brand new toaster for £5 and it fails after 18 months, you wouldn’t have rights against the retailer under the Sale of Goods Act. Section 14(2A) states that the price should be taken into account. The whole matter is too subjective to give precise periods for which goods should last.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

NFH – agreed. As I said, durability should also take account of price. However we have a right for products to last a sensible time, given their price, and all of us – retailer, consumer and court – need some reasonable bechmarks to ensure we are treated fairly. Surely something a consumer’s organisation should treat as a priority. How many of these conversations include people who have products that do not last a reasonable time and have problems getting fair treatment from the retailer? Time it was sorted.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Malcolm – No doubt you will remember the Conversation where we discussed durability of washing machines with Kenneth Watt, who made the following point in relation to the Sale of Goods Act: “However there is no test of durability in the SoGA beyond what is “reasonable”. It simply isn’t there, as much as many wish it were.” This is not the first time I have been told this.

There may be a few exceptions, such as when a manufacturer claims that their LED lamps have a lifetime of 20,000 hours and they fail well before then.

Many of us have managed to get repairs or replacement of goods that have failed not long after the warranty period, but I doubt that many have even attempted to do so after four or five years. The retailer is entitled to allowed to make a deduction for the amount of use we have had before goods failed.

On hearing about the Sale of Goods Act for the first time, some people assume that it is a six year guarantee, which is obviously not the case. I fear that Trading Standards and Which? may be giving us false hopes about durability. It would be very good for Which? to provide us with some examples of how members have successfully achieved repair or replacement of goods that are say four or five years old.

I remain convinced that the way forward is to look for longer manufacturers’ warranties. If the manufacturer is responsible for the cost of repair during the warranty period they are less likely to use substandard components.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, we agree generally on the points you make. I believe a 5 year warranty is too short for many sensibly-priced appliances, but it will focus manufacturers on quality of design, components and build. Like “reasonable durability”, what do we regard as a “reasonable length of guarantee” – a very similar judgement needed.
SoGA simply lays down a legal framework for the whole gamut of products. Determining individual reasonable durabilities is, it seems to me, down to specialist investigation. Consumer appliances are widely tested by consumer associations world wide and users are surveyed as to their experiences. This data could be used to establish benchmark lives without serious fault against which products could be judged. It is by its nature a bit of a circular process – using existing products to set standards. But there will be good and bad shown up I suspect at each price point, so it will be a start. There is also I think an “expectation” that can contribute. Should a £600 washing machine fail in 3 years? Should an expensive phone fail in 18 months. Somewhere lies a starting point.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

As NFH has pointed out, the cost of a product is a complicating factor in estimating how long a product will last. With a mechanical product like a washing machine, a large family might use it ten times as frequently as an elderly pensioner living alone. In this case the warranty should be for a number of years or a specified number of cycles – whichever comes first – analogous to a car warranty. With a fridge or freezer that is in continuous use, only the time period is needed for the warranty.

You are absolutely right that it would require specialist investigation to estimate the durability of a product and I wonder who would foot the bill.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

A useful site explaining traders’ obligations (and therefore customers’ rights). I could not find the question of “durability” tackled though – this is a key criterion in my view that does not require a specific pre-existing fault. it could simply be down to poor design of a product, poor quality materials, poor quality assembly as examples that only become apparent when the product fails – a wire too close to a moving part, poor choice of material, a rubbish bearing, perhaps.
http://www.businesscompanion.info/en

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

This and what we saw in the Consumer Rights Bill highlights the fact that the legislation is protecting the company as well as the consumer. Many of my posts are very critical of companies but I certainly recognise that they deserve protection against unreasonable claims. Look at the way many people abuse their mobile phones, for example.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

SoGA protects both retailer and consumer. It requires the consumer to demonstrate a fault or lack of durability – the onus is on them. The retailer has the stronger hand – ability to deter the consumer and make it difficult for effective action – it’s easier just to give up rather than go to the small claims court. The balance needs redressing slightly.
“Look at the way many people abuse their mobile phones”. I’m not sure this is a good example given the problems a great many people have with Sony phones – see the Conversation. This example just shows how people are fobbed off and prevented from exercising their rights by big companies.
Abuse of a product is well covered. Guarantees exclude abuse, or consumer faults, when asked to deal with a claim. The consumer usually then has to pay for any examination or call out. Seems fair to me.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I think we need more than redressing the balance slightly. Retailers all round the country are refusing to have anything to do with goods that have failed outside warranty. Unless there is obvious damage, this should never happen.

Under current law, consumers may be required to obtain evidence that a fault existed at the time of manufacture. Those familiar with particular products get to know about design faults that lead to frequent failures. In the 70s I used to use a series of books called Radio and TV Servicing published by Newnes, which gave details of common failure points, often caused by use of substandard components. Thanks to information sharing on the internet, many people know of weaknesses with Xperia phones, Amazon Kindles, Sony TVs and many other items. In these cases there is probably no fault present at the time of manufacture, so the Sale of Goods Act does not really help us unless the fault could be seen as an inherent defect. I am not familiar with any legal cases where this has been tested.

I would like to see the Trading Standards Institute – with its involvement with industry and responsibility towards consumers – come up with a Code of Practice about how out of warranty claims should be handled. I believe that this should include inspection of the failed item to look for evidence of why failure has taken place. This could identify water damage, breakage as a result of impact, presence of foreign bodies and evidence that the product has been dismantled by the owner. Equally, inspection could reveal burned out components and evidence of poor assembly. If there is no obvious reason for the failure then I agree it would be reasonable for the consumer to pay for a professional examination. Where a call-out charge is involved, this should be refunded if the manufacturer is clearly responsible for the failure.

So yes, we have to be fair to both parties. There is nothing new about substandard products but thanks to increasing complexity of goods and modern manufacturing techniques, repairs can be difficult and/or not economically viable these days.

If I owned a product that developed the same symptoms as reported hundreds on times on websites I would print out some examples and links to appropriate websites, and give this to the retailer.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

In these cases there is probably no fault present at the time of manufacture, so the Sale of Goods Act does not really help us unless the fault could be seen as an inherent defect – This is incorrect and the Sale of Goods Act does contain the word “inherent”. Any defect that was caused up until the time of supply is covered. This could be a widespread design defect affecting all or most instances of a product or a manufacturing (quality control) defect affecting no more than a few instances of a product. A covered defect might take some time to manifest itself, particularly if poor durability of a product or component is the cause. Excluded defects are those caused after the time of supply, for example those caused by misuse or where the product’s durability would be reasonably expected to be short because of the price paid or the nature of the product.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

I meant the Sale of Goods act does not contain the word “inherent”.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

NFH – I appreciate that the legislation does not use the word ‘inherent’.

Let’s have a look at the term ‘satisfactory quality’. To quote: “For the purposes of this Act, goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.”

I’m no expert but perhaps a ‘reasonable person’ would assume that a product would not have a serious design fault that would result in thousands of failures of the same model due to the same problem. Where a design fault is a safety issue, there is often a recall, but in other cases the customer generally ends up paying for replacement or repair unless they are ‘lucky’ enough to have a problem during the warranty period.

It would be great to have some input from someone on the Which? Legal team.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

@wavechange – You appeared to suggest that widespread defects with a particular product would not be covered by the Sale of Goods Act. On the contrary, they are covered. If the defect is widespread, then it suggests even more strongly that the defect existed (even if not evident) at the time of supply and was not caused by events after the time of supply such as misuse.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Perhaps I’ve not explained myself very well, NFH. A fridge with a weak door hinge or some electronic item with an underspecified electronic component will work perfectly for an indeterminate period, which may be longer than the warranty. It can still represent a common reason for failure. With cars in particular, the design faults are often well documented. To give a specific example, I tried and failed to have a red car resprayed because it had faded, a very well known problem with the model.

If I recall correctly, Patrick had a PS3 with some design fault and ended up paying for a repair. There are some documented examples of manufacturers helping people who have goods affected by a common fault but under current law it’s up to the retailers to provide a remedy. I have not seen much evidence of this happening.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

You’re right that manufacturers will sometimes take direct responsibility for widespread design faults after warranties expire, cars being an excellent example, but this is in addition to, and does not replace, the consumer’s statutory rights against the retailer under the Sale of Goods Act.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

In my lay view, it is these sorts of defects / faults that should be covered by the “Durability” requirement under “Quality” in SoGA. I believe we should be given the information to allow claims on these faults to be pursued with more confidence. Amazon Kindle, Sony Xperia phones, as examples seem to have fallen into this category. Only by an organisation collecting and publicising this information can an individual have a better chance of pursuing a remedy. Come on Which? – your job perhaps?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Over the years I have had far more support from manufacturers than retailers. I did once get a new engine for a three year old car, two years outside warranty, but that was authorised by the manufacturer even though it was fitted by the dealer.

Sometimes it is easier to follow the incorrect advice given by retailers and contact the manufacturer. I don’t particularly enjoy giving lectures on the Sale of Goods Act. 🙁

With more and more goods sold online, perhaps it’s time to switch legal responsibility from the retailer to the manufacturer.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Malcolm – Some of the things that Which? is asked to take on are quite demanding. However, it might not take too much work to collect evidence relating to a few products that seem to fail frequently in the same way (e.g Sony Xperia phones and Amazon Kindles), getting a lab to assess the problem objectively, and letting us know what the manufacturers have to say.

These examples are interesting because some of the items will have been damaged by abuse, even though that may not be apparent from the external appearance. Knowing that mobile devices can have a rough life, perhaps the manufacturers should consider making them more robust. I have not heard much about Kindle screen problems recently, so maybe improvements have been made.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

“With more and more goods sold online, perhaps it’s time to switch legal responsibility from the retailer to the manufacturer.” I think it impractical to have customers deal direct with manufacturers. I presume that as so many are overseas English law will not apply to them, whilst it would to an English retailer. They are the ones who choose the goods to sell, make the profit, and are your supplier; they should therefore take responsibility for those goods. They are for most people more easily accessible – in person or by phone – than a remote manufacturer, and far more able to arrange service in the event of a problem. My Swedish dining chairs supplied through John Lewis needed repairing because of a defect, and JLP did it through their local furniture restorer. Would have been difficult from Sweden.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Once it has become well-known that a particular product has a bad reputation, that must affect the reasonability of expecting such a product to endure and the ‘durability’ test is thus compromised. The problem is that retailers won’t let on that a particular product is prone to defects before they sell it to you [even if asked!].

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Which? go part way to addressing this issue by providing reliability ratings – e.g. “Advice Guide
Most reliable washing machine brands.” This is assessed by actual reliability, or by providing a 5 year guarantee. However I don’t know whether their data shows just how long the appliances last without a failure. Reliability should mean a reasonable trouble free life – i.e. without breakdown; if the machine breaks down it still causes a great deal of inconvenience.
I hope the data being collected will give a basis for assessing how long different appliances, brands, at different prices will last without breakdown; that is what reliability means. Meantime the other issue to be resolved is to ensure that appliances that do breakdown – whether under extended guarantee or not – are dealt with fairly by the retailer.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Curry’s is currently on my list of boycotted retailers because of their failings regarding to the Sale of Goods Act, though I did use them for an urgent purchase in April 2013.

The leaflet accompanying the receipt states: “If we refer you to the product manufacturer or repair agent for service or repair, this is because they are our agents for the products and have been chosen because they are best placed to help our customers with queries.”

I would be interested to know if Curry’s still say this. I have done my best to tell them that they – as retailers – are responsible for dealing with faulty goods.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I don’t know if they still say this and I believe they are wrong if they act in that way. There is no problem with them appointing the manufacturer as their agent to rectify the problem but they cannot either (a) abdicate responsibility for resolving the issue, or (b) require the customer to approach the manufacturer as both actions would evade their statutory responsibilities. They must at all times act as the channel for resolution and the manufacturer should report back through the retailer unless the customer has specifically authorised otherwise [and there should be no pressure on customers to do so]. While not technically in a monopoly situation, perhaps, CurrysPCWorld acts as though they are a law unto themselves and in my opinion they fall far short of the moral obligations responsibilities that their physical market place dominance gives them.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

John – I received the following prompt but useless reply to my enquiry about the wording in the leaflet. The reference to a phone is simply because I had mentioned what I had purchased. There was nothing wrong with it.

Hi xxxxxxx,

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

I would have liked to contact you by phone today however, we have been unable to locate a contact telephone number for you,
please provide this in any future emails.

I am sorry to hear that your phone has not been working as you expected,
and I can appreciate how disappointing this must be.

So that we can offer you the best support with your enquiry,
could you please confirm your full address including post code, receipt number, branch number,
and date of purchase.

We look forward to hearing from you with this information.

Kind regards,

xxxxxx
The KNOWHOW™ Team

How did I do? Leave your feedback here:
xxxxxxxxx

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Typical, I suppose. I don’t think they have the right to demand that you provide a telephone number if you’re corresponding by e-mail [there is an underlying suggestion that unless you cooperate with them they will short-change you in some way]. I very rarely give firms my telephone number because I don’t want to be contacted that way since they always have the advantage of you if they call at an awkward or inconvenient moment, having already rehearsed their spiel and caught you on the hop. If possible I try to stall and arrange to ring back when it suits me and when I have prepared my ground. There is definitely an aggressive ‘barrow-boy’ culture in place these days in some retail concerns, especially among tech merchants; I just hope it backfires.

Profile photo of colin grave
Member

In your January feature, on pages 27 & 29 you make reference to Amazon’s policy on the return of faulty goods and the fact that they may be misleading customers about not being able to return goods to Amazon after 30 days, but instead should send them back to the manufacturer.

Today I have had exactly this experience with Amazon when trying to return a faulty steam iron purchased 6 months ago. Although their website tells me in fine detail how to print a Goods Repair Label I simply went round in circles, being told the item was not eligible for return. Eventually, I gave up and put in a request for Customer Services to telephone me, a service which is excellent, with me receiving a call within a few seconds of requesting it.

But after explaining that my goods were faulty and needed to be replaced or repaired, the representative told me he would send me a label with the manufacturer’s address so I could return the goods to them. I told him I didn’t wish to deal with the manufacturer as I had bought the goods from Amazon UK and wanted them to deal with it direct. I was told it was their policy after 30 days to ask customers to return faulty goods to the manufacturer as it was their responsibility. I told him I wasn’t interested in Amazon’s policy and instead I wished to adhere to United Kingdom law.

The representative didn’t seem to understand what I was saying and repeated that it was Amazon’s policy not to accept returns after 30 days. I ask the representative where he was speaking from and I was told the Philippines. I explained to him that I was in the United Kingdom and had bought the goods from Amazon.co.uk, and therefore Amazon UK had to adhere to UK law which states that the retailer has to replace faulty electrical goods for at least 12 months from the date I received them, so I will only deal with Amazon and not with the manufacturer. After consulting with his superior he returned to the phone to tell me a new iron would be delivered to me tomorrow.

So ultimately the outcome was how it should be, but the process of getting there was far from desirable. Amazon UK needs to get its act together when it comes to adhering to the UK’s trading laws, and realise that its own internal policies do not overrule everything else.

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

I had the same with Amazon a few weeks ago. My juicer broke down (that i use everyday) and as it was older than 30 days they kept saying they couldn’t do anything. I did not phone them, instead i asked for my email to be passed to a manager, i then had a email from the Amazon UK management team who gave me a full refund and asked me to place the said item in the bin.

Member
David says:
20 April 2016

Can anyone advise me if a online retailer is obliged to pay for the return postage of a faulty item ? If so whats the time period? I brought a radio 10 months ago and the retailer said they will get it repaired but I need to pay the postage.