The global marketplace is complicated. You can purchase products from all sorts of places, not just in stores or in person but online and in a variety of ways. We always hope and expect the things we buy to be up to a certain standard, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. In the event that we get short-changed or hoodwinked, we want to know our rights. But when it comes to faulty products, what are our rights?
What are the fundamental rules?
There are 3 qualities that all goods must have to be sold legally in the UK. They must be:
1) As described
If there is a description for a product being sold, it must match that. This doesn’t have to be 100% but whatever claims are made about a certain product must be verifiably true.
2) Fit for purpose
Whatever products are being sold need to be useable in whatever remit they were designed for. If any other purposes for the product are agreed upon with the seller prior to buying, the product must be able to perform these duties too.
3) Of satisfactory quality
It is not stipulated that everything sold has to be in ideal condition, nor that it is even-near perfect. It simply needs to be good enough to do whatever it is designed for, meaning that it has to be at least adequate quality.
These rights are imposed upon the retailer, not the manufacturer. It is the responsibility of whoever directly sold you the product.
What other rights do I have?
If any of the above three golden rules are broken, you then have the right to reject the product and get a full refund. In order to do this, you must first contact the seller to explain the issue and your intent to return the item.
A quick refund is limited to 30 days from whenever you took owndership of a product. This can either be the date it was delivered to you or the point of purchase, whichever is later. This does not apply to digital content, for which a retailer has the opportunity to repair or replace prior to reimbursing you.
You can ask a retailer to repair or replace an item within 6 months of purchase, but they have the final say on which of the two they do. If either of these is successful, you are then entitled to a refund or price reduction if you’re looking to keep the product. This is because it is assumed that the fault was there at the point of purchase within these 6 months. If the item is a motor vehicle, they can make a deduction to a refund cost if it falls outside of he initial 30 days under fair use policy.
Your rights extend up to 6 years, but it you want action to be taken outside of 6 months, you must prove that the fault wasn’t present at the point of purchase. This can be tricky, perhaps requiring the evaluation of an expert or product fault knowledge. If an attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessfully made, the retailer has the right to deduct money from a refund over 6 months. This same 6 year period covers when you are eligible to make a claim at the small claims court, but 5 years in Scotland.
What if I find a fault with a product as soon as I buy it?
It can actually prove pretty difficult to get conclusive proof for an inherant fault in a product. Best guidance would say to get an official report from a repair shop if you can find one, or get one online. See if others have complained about the same issue, or articles covering the matter. If you’re concerns aren’t taking serious by the retailer, though, you can get in touch with trading standards. And of course, if there is a guarantee or warranty, this cover will affect your product, but each cover changes depending on the product and retailer.
Whether you should be refunded the return delivery cost depends on how long you’ve had the product. If it’s been a relatively short time, they should be reimbursed regardless of cost, but if you’ve had the product for a while, it’ll apear that you have benefitted from it’s use and reimbursement won’t be automatically granted. The retailer may, on occassion, want the fault inspected by a manufacturer to see if it was likely present upon purchasing.
Within six months, because the retailer will want to check if the fault was present at purchase, they should cover the cost to send it to a manufacturer. If they ask you to send the product, get confirmation from them that they will reimburse the costs. Outside of this first six months, you can expect to pay return costs, but you can make a claim to have this reimbursed if the fault was found to be present when purchasing.
What might mitigate our Consumer Rights?
Of course the notion of Consumer Rights is not a one-way system. There are things that people can do to negate or mitigate against the rights they have. Here is a short summary:
- If you’ve just decided you no longer want the item (there are exceptions that we will cover later)
- You want to make a complaint about any faults in the product that you were informed of prior to purchasing.
- If damage was caused by what would be considered misuse, general wear and tear or accidental damage.
What if I am sold faulty goods ONLINE?
The first point to know is that regardless of anything, you can return any goods you buy online within 14 days. For goods this means that after the point of cancelling an order, you then have 14 days to return an items. For a service or digital content, you then have 14 days after the point of purchase. This applies even if you’ve simply changed your mind.
Other important points to note are; if someone buys an item or present for you, it is they that has to be responsible for getting any kind of refund. Obviously this can be rather tricky. You’re protected when buying something over the value of £42 away from a normal seller’s premises (usually at your home or work). As you can see, to cover the higher level of risk that is associated with buying online, there is porotection that can often make it better than buying via other methods.
If you want to know more about your Consumer Rights, please visit our main article here.