When it comes to returning faulty goods or looking for refunds, it is important that you understand the law and legislation regarding your rights. Knowing exactly what you are entitled to can make the process a whole lot easier and quicker, especially if you find yourself dealing with a less than cooperative retailer.
October 1st, 2015 saw a change in the law regarding consumer rights and the Consumer Rights Act came into force. This piece of legislation was designed to protect the consumer and make the process of dealing with faulty goods a much simpler ordeal. Any product bought on or after this date covered under this new law but any item bought before then is covered by the old Sale of Goods Act.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979
The Sale of Goods Act states that all goods should be sold as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. Fit for purpose refers to both everyday purpose and any specific purpose that was agreed with the seller. For example, if you specifically asked for a printer that is compatible with your computer.
Under the Sale of Goods Act, you have the right to reject any faulty goods within a reasonable time. This time scale is a bit of a grey area however and can depend on the individual retailer, but it is usually around 3-4 weeks. If it is too late to reject any faulty goods, then you have the right to have them repaired or refunded ‘within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience’. The retailer can choose which one if the cost of one is disproportionate to the other.
If your goods become faulty within six months of purchase, then it is up to the retailer to prove that the goods weren’t faulty on purchase, not you. So if you are dealing with a particularly awkward retailer and end up taking them to court to enforce your rights, they have to do the legwork. However, if the fault occurs after six months, then it is up to you to prove it was present at time of sale and not just a result of wear and tear. You may need to dig up some research and expert reports to do this.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015
The new legislation reinforces many of the old laws with some added extras. The length of time you have to reject faulty goods is now a standard 30 days for all retailers. The new legislation also applies to any and every retailer even those based outside of the UK but selling to UK customers. This new law also incorporates digital content for the first time. This includes products such as downloads or supporting software, for example on smart TVs.
As a consumer, you have the right by law to request replacement, repair or refund on faulty goods. Any action you take under consumer legislation is against the retailer, not the manufacturer. Many high-end goods are often covered by manufacturer’s warranty or guarantees. If your product is faulty you can claim under these guarantees but even if they are expired you still have the right to claim against the retailer under the consumer legislation. If the fault occurred after six months of purchase, then you will need to prove the fault was there at purchase but you have six years to make a court case in England and Wales and five years in Scotland.
If the retailer doesn’t play ball, then you can take it to the appropriate ombudsman or even as far as court. Knowing your rights makes you as a consumer more powerful, so be armed with the information you need before you make a purchase.