This Christmas has been quite different from any we have ever known due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, so it’s an ideal opportunity to shine a spotlight on your consumer rights and popular fob offs.

Online shopping is a popular and default option for many of us now, which brings with it familiar problems with failed deliveries and fob offs.

So whether you need to put a claim in on a Christmas present you’ve already bought or want to make sure you know your rights before hitting the January sales, this is the info you need.

CONSUMER CONTRACT REGULATIONS 2013

You have a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’ when you buy something online unless it’s bespoke or made to measure. The cooling-off period starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.

Your contract is with the trader, not the courier firm or manufacturer so don’t be fobbed off with excuses.

CONSUMER RIGHTS ACT 2015

This piece of legislation is the cornerstone of your consumer rights and covers goods and services from traders such as plumbers and electricians.

It also covers restaurants and takeaways. Food you order needs to be fit for purpose, as described, satisfactory quality and cooked with due skill and care.

You are entitled to a full or partial refund if you order a takeaway and it arrives late, cold or with missing items.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that any goods you buy should be:

  • Fit for purpose
  • As described
  • Satisfactory quality
  • Last a reasonable length of time

Services ought to be carried out with due skill and care.

It is a common myth that you only have 30 days grace to act on it, whereas the 30-day rule applies to rejecting the purchase and does not affect your consumer rights.

If you discover any faults within 6 months of ownership, the presumption is that the fault was there from the outset unless the retailer can prove otherwise.

The onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault was not there at the time you purchased the product.

You need to give the retailer one opportunity to remedy the faults and if this fails, you have the right to reject the goods and demand a full refund without deductions. The only exception on deductions is for vehicles where you have had use of the vehicle for more than 30 days.

If 6 months has elapsed, the onus is on you to evidence that the fault was there at the time of purchase and this can be evidenced by an expert opinion or evidence that this is a common fault with this product.

If you find that the product has a common fault that is evidenced in the public domain (easily found on a Google search), you do not need an independent report. This is proof that the product was faulty since inception and you are entitled to a full refund/replacement.

UNFAIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 creates a ‘fairness test’ to prevent consumers from being placed at an unfair advantage. Terms and conditions need to be transparent and fair, and anything that tips the rights and responsibilities in favour of the trader is considered unfair.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 also reinforces this. This legislation considers such practices unfair if they cause a consumer to take a different decision than they would have otherwise made if they had not been given false information or put under unfair pressure to proceed. The focus is on misleading and aggressive actions and omissions.

If you had no alternative but to agree to the terms and conditions, a Court would likely consider that you have been put under unfair pressure to do so.

SECTION 75 – CONSUMER CREDIT ACT 1974

You can lodge a claim with your credit card provider if you have purchased an item costing more than £100 with a credit card, as they are jointly liable under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

You only have to pay 1p deposit so long as the total cost of the item is more than £100.

Consumers have rights as well as expectations, and it is important that you are reasonable with any complaint that you make.

ONLINE SHOPPING AND FAILED DELIVERIES

A popular fob-off with online shopping and failed deliveries is being told by the retailer that you need to contact the courier firm. Another problem with online shopping is the question of who is responsible for collecting faulty goods.

RESPONSIBILITY

The retailer is responsible under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to ensure the goods you have ordered are fit for purpose, as described, satisfactory quality and last a reasonable length of time. Your contract is with the seller, not the courier firm.

If something you have ordered has not arrived, you should contact the seller to find out where it is.

It is the seller’s legal responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. They should contact the courier and let you know what has happened to your item. It is not up to you to do that.

If your item was not delivered to the location you agreed (for example – it was left with your neighbour without your consent), it is the seller’s legal responsibility to resolve the issue.

Courier drivers are usually self-employed and only get paid for each parcel that is delivered. This often means that packages are thrown over a wall in to a puddle, left in a bin or outside in all weathers. If the parcel is damaged in any way, it is the seller’s responsibility to remedy this and not the courier firm.

You are legally entitled to a replacement or refund if the package does not turn up.

GET THE ITEM DELIVERED AGAIN

You can write to the seller and ask them to deliver the item again. You should do this if the item was not delivered within a reasonable time or the item was not delivered by an agreed date.

OBTAIN A REFUND

You can ask for your money back if you do not receive the item either:

  • within 30 days of buying it
  • on the date you agreed with the seller – if it was essential to receive it by then (for example – for an event then or shortly after)

If the seller refuses to reimburse you, you should put your complaint in writing and follow their complaints procedure if they have one.

OTHER OPTIONS

Other options include reporting the seller to a Trade Association, Trading Standards or claiming on your debit or credit card provider under their respective refund schemes. This is referred to as a chargeback where your card provider raises a ticket when you dispute a transaction to investigate and reverse it if your claim is proved to be legitimate.

christmas consumer rights

10 POPULAR FOB OFFS

YOU NEED TO CONTACT THE COURIER FIRM

This fob off is trotted out when a delivery has gone missing, is late or has simply not turned up.

The contract you have entered in to is with the retailer and not the courier firm. It is up to the retailer to resolve this under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO THE MANUFACTURER

This is a catch-all fob off that is used for all appliances that have been sold by many retailers.

Staff often use this in their shops for Apple products and I have seen it used for fridges, TVs, washing machines and other appliances.

Your contract is with the retailer – not the manufacturer. It is up to the retailer to resolve this under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

THE WARRANTY DOES NOT COVER THIS FAULT

Yet another popular fob off and blatant lie. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you free cover for up to 6 years in England and Wales and 5 years in Scotland.

Goods need to be:

  • Fit for purpose
  • As described
  • Satisfactory quality
  • Last a reasonable length of time

The warranty is irrelevant.

YOU DID NOT TAKE OUT A CARE PLAN – THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO

You do not need to take out a warranty or a care plan – these are simply commission-based sales for staff.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you free cover for up to 6 years in England and Wales and 5 years in Scotland.

Goods need to be:

  • Fit for purpose
  • As described
  • Satisfactory quality
  • Last a reasonable length of time

You are entitled to a repair, refund or replacement if the goods you have bought do not meet the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

WE CANNOT GIVE A REFUND AS THE PRODUCT IS OUT OF WARRANTY

You do not need to rely on a warranty as the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and your consumer rights override it.

You are entitled to a refund within the first 30 days from the date of purchase.

If you discover any faults within 6 months of ownership, the presumption is that the fault was there from the outset unless the retailer can prove otherwise. This is where you apply the reverse burden of proof.

The onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault was not there at the time you purchased the product.

You need to give the retailer one opportunity to remedy the faults and if this fails, you have the right to reject the goods and demand a full refund without deductions.

If 6 months has elapsed, the onus is on you to evidence that the fault was there at the time of purchase. This can be evidenced by an expert opinion or evidence that this is a common fault with this product.

YOU DO NOT HAVE A RECEIPT SO WE CANNOT GIVE A REFUND 

Proof of purchase is all that is required – a bank or credit card statement will suffice.

A bank statement will match up with the price at the time on their systems and the item you have bought.

Proof of purchase is all that is required with the item you have in your possession. I would insist that they check their systems if the retailer says that it doesn’t prove you bought that item. Everything can be traced nowadays with digital footprints and technology.

You might have bought 3 items at the same time, so the amount on your statement might not match the faulty item’s price.

All items need to match the Consumer Rights Act 2015, so if 1 out of 3 items is faulty and you have proof of purchase – the retailer is responsible.

Your contract is with the retailer – it is their problem to resolve it under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, not yours.

IT WAS BOUGHT IN A SALE – WE DO NOT ACCEPT RETURNS ON THAT BASIS 

Wrong – your consumer rights remain the same under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 unless the faults were pointed out at the time of purchase. 

YOU / WE WILL HAVE TO RETURN IT TO THE MANUFACTURER 

This is one of the most popular fob offs and lies used by retailers.

Your contract is with the retailer – not the manufacturer. It is therefore up to the retailer to resolve the problem under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

You are entitled to a repair, refund or replacement. 

WE NEED TO CHARGE AN ADMIN FEE TO PROCESS A REFUND FOR GOODS THAT HAVE NOT ARRIVED

This is just another rip-off and fob off that is illegal and not applicable.

If you have not received the goods within 30 days (or date agreed), you are due a full refund – not a refund minus an admin fee.

This is enshrined in consumer law under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

CORONAVIRUS MEANS THAT WE ARE EXPERIENCING DELAYS 

Coronavirus is the default and new catch-all excuse for everything including dire customer service everywhere.

It is wearing thin with me and everyone else now. Firms have had plenty of time to adapt. I won’t wear it now and neither should you.

If you’d like to learn more detail about your consumer rights, then grab yourself a copy of Scott Dixon’s book: How To Complain: The Consumer Guide to Resolve Complaints and Motoring Disputes.”

Disclosure – this post was guest written by Scott Dixon from The Grumpy Git and contains an affiliate link to his book.