/ Shopping

Don’t get stuck in a sticky summer sales situation

Snails going shopping

I love the summer sales – all those clothes and shoes suddenly slashed in price tend to give my card a bit of a workout. Luckily I haven’t run into any problems while sales shopping, but what should you do if you have?

When I asked around my colleagues for their sales disasters, one told me about recently buying clothes online in a well-known retailer’s sale.

When they arrived she realised they were very different from how they had appeared on the website. The t-shirt was a neon-orange colour (not coral as advertised on the site), one top was completely see-through, and the shoes looked like they had been glued together! Fortunately, she managed to get a refund for all three items.

Stay savvy in the summer sales

According to the Office for National Statistics, retail shopping has increased by 2.2% – and feedback from the stores themselves suggest that this was done to promotions and people buying clearance items.

But what if the items you buy in a sale aren’t up to scratch? You still have rights. Sale items must be sold as described, be of satisfactory quality and be fit for purpose. So if those shoes you bought look as if they were stuck together with glue, or there’s poor stitching on your new shirt, it doesn’t make a difference if you bought it in the sales or not.

I’ve had a summer sales disaster, help!

As soon as you realise there’s a problem with your sales item, tell the retailer. They should agree to refund your money, or repair or replace the item. If they refuse, you need to write to them. Remember to explain that the fault was not one that you were made aware of when you bought the item.

There are a couple of points worth remembering though. Shops do often place time restrictions on returning non-faulty sale items, so do check the returns policy before buying.

You also can’t claim under the Sale of Goods Act for faults you were told about before you bought an item – sometimes that fault is the very reason the product is on sale in the first place!

If the retailer is trying to limit or exclude your rights, such as by saying it doesn’t give refunds on sales items, you can also complain to the trading standards department local to the retailer. I’d give the shop a chance to put things right before going down this route though!

Have you ever had any sales shopping disasters? Did you get a refund? Was it easy to get your money back?

Sag111 says:
27 July 2013

I’ve had tons of problems with John Lewis sale items. Small goods with sharp metal sticking out, sharp kitchen items, things with wobbly lids that don’t close, faulty wine opener that’s heavier than a brick, card cases that are damaged or stained with ink, perfume that doesn’t smell of anything, plates and cups that are scratched or decoration worn out, books torn, lamps damaged.

Pretty much everything John Lewis sells in sales is either damaged, badly designed, low quality or a customer return.

I bought some notebooks from someone else last year, cost over £250. Opened the package this year, found they all had bent spines, can’t be used.

Knowing someone who worked for John Lewis, you can pick up real bargains in the sales – end of lines, customer returns, minor damage. We’ve also had good deals at Dunelm Mill – substantial discounts on current and brand new goods that returned to full price after the sale. However, many sales these days seem to revolve around “special buys” – which are probably just worth the money you pay for them.

I think I would have stopped buying on line from John Lewis after the first two problems mentioned by Sag111 and visited a store. I have never had such a bad experience let alone a run of them. I have occasionally bought furniture items from John Lewis which were heavily discounted due to a declared defect which did not affect its suitability for my purpose. Any faults are usually factored into the price and good retailers declare them or warn of such contingencies. It always pays to see and handle the goods you are buying, especially if the absence of any flaw or malfunction is critical to its use or enjoyment.

I was surprised recently to be told by Sahara in Oxford that there was no return on sales goods. I didn’t agree with them but I wonder if anyone has had faulty goods and not taken them back for that reason?