But What If….
Ok, so you've read our guide to knowing your consumer rights….erm right?
But say something goes wrong, and for some reason you're not happy with your new purchase - where exactly do you stand and what should you do? Read these examples, and you'll know exactly how to handle the unexpected….
"Aghhhh! my Action Man Walkie-Talkies are faulty! What should I do?"
Ok, calm down! You've got to go back to where you got them from originally as soon as possible. Even if you can't return to the shop or wherever within a few days, it's definitely worth phoning to let them know about your complaint. If it's a really expensive item, then making a note of the conversation and who you spoke to is a good idea for security.
It's really important to act quickly because if you haven't accepted the goods you can still reject them.
"Eh? - surely if I've bought something, then I've already accepted it….haven't I?"
No! - one of the ways you accept goods is by keeping them, without complaint, after you have had a reasonable time to examine them. It's funny, 'cos what is reasonable is not fixed - it depends on all the circumstances. But normally you can at least take your purchase home and try it out.
If however, you spend ages "examining" your new Walkie Talkies, or don't tell the seller about the fault, then you may lose your right to reject - so get to it!
Some items (particularly electronic goods like Walkie Talkies), have manufacturers' guarantees. These are useful when your statutory rights no longer apply, and often result in fewer quibbles than relying on your statutory rights.
"But what if, say, I got a faulty personal stereo as a present - would I be able to take it back?"
No, not usually. You may have to ask the person who bought it to complain for you, or you could get their authorisation in writing so you could complain on their behalf - But remember! only the buyer has statutory rights
"Sheeeeeshh. I've got to send my gigantic mega Hi-Fi back to the shop, which is MILES AWAY - is there anything I can do about it?"
Hey cool it! - You are not legally obliged to return faulty goods to the seller at your own expense. If an item is bulky and would be difficult or expensive to return to the shop, ask the seller to collect it. But this does not apply where you complain about faults after having accepted the goods, or if you got the goods as a present.
"I've just bought an antique elephant-shaped teapot from a private auction - do I still have the same rights?"
Hmmm.... in a nutshell: no. You'll have fewer rights if you buy privately (i.e. not from an authorised trader) or in this case, an auction.
But…. (Ok Ok, it's unlikely but stay with me here)…. say you were injured by your teapot, or it caused you over £275 worth of damage - then you have certain rights regardless of how it was bought (or even if it was a pressie).
As a final rule, you've never really got grounds for complaint if….
- You were told about the fault when you bought the item.
- Examined the item when you bought it and should have seen the fault;
- Did the damage yourself.
- Made a mistake when purchasing the item.
- Simply changed your mind about the item.
So under these circumstances you are never entitled to anything - but remember that many shops will help out in their Goodwill Policies….Hey, if in doubt, it's always worth asking.
Citizens Advice Bureau – see local phone book for one closest to you
Law Centres Federation
Find the location of the nearest Law Centre to you
The laws stated in this article apply only to England and Wales
- Eddy Vista