Buying online is becoming more and more popular as people become increasingly confident in using their credit and debit cards. But what are your rights when something goes wrong with the product you’ve bought? This article lays out what your consumer rights are and how you can go about enforcing them.
Consumer Rights 2015 Act
Your rights are can be found in The Sale of Goods Act 2015. This piece of legislation has replaces the Sale of Goods Act to strengthen the consumers’ position. Basically you should expect your purchase to be as described and of satisfactory quality.
If your purchase does not conform to this then you can either ask for a full refund within a reasonable timescale or a reasonable amount of damages or compensation. Your rights don’t stop here you can alternatively ask for a repair or replacement of the goods.
So how does this translate into a problem with a piece of camping equipment. Well you may have bought a tent which claims to stand up to gale force winds but falls apart in a breeze or a sleeping bag which has a tear inside it. In these circumstances you should contact the retailer and assert your rights, its up to you what you ask for.
When you complain about your product the retailer may say that there was nothing wrong with the goods when he sent them out to you. Under the Consumer Rights Act, for the first six months, the onus to prove that the goods were faulty at the time of purchase is on the retailer and not you. After six months is is up to you to prove this.
How to complain?
Getting angry is pointless. You have been unlucky and so losing your cool will not help. The most important thing to do is ensure you get a remedy and the best way to get a resolution you are happy with, is to negotiate.
Now this negotiation doesn’t mean excepting less than you are entitled to. No, it means understanding the cost of what would happen should the retailer be stubborn about your situation. The last thing you want to do is to take legal action against him in a court but that sanction is available to you at a small cost which you need to make clear if you are not getting any satisfaction. This is part of the negotiation, you hold all the cards!
So speak to the retailer, let him know that you know your rights. Explain clearly what you want (don’t go asking for any more than you are entitled to) and the timescales you want them achieved in. More often than not many retailers “backs are put up” by the angry consumer trying to get their pound of flesh so remain calm and reasonable.
Don’t send off your item unless you get a some form of written consent from the retailer that he will refund you the out of pocket expenses and pay in full should he lose the item. Also take plenty of photographs of the damaged item and send the item off recorded delivery. All this will back up your case should your item “get lost”.
Unsatisfactory outcome, what next?
You have tried to negotiate with the retailer and he is unwilling to satisfy your demands so your next step is to take him to court. The Small Claims procedure (England and Wales) and the Simple Procedure in Scotland are relatively easy and cheap to lodge a claim and is designed for this type of small dispute. You’ll find that many retailers will find the cost of defending the claim not cost effective so they’ll probably settle before it gets to that point.
You could also post your problem below, don’t mention the company, for free advice and help as one of our contributors used to be a Trading Standards Officer.
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