Faulty goods under warranty: What are your rights?

You have just gone out to buy a new item; you come home to try it out and find that it does not work. What are your rights? Can you return the item for a full refund? What happens if your item has already been replaced or repaired?

Shops often exploit their customers by avoiding their legal responsibility to solve issues relating to faulty items.

Faulty goods under warranty: What are your rights?

What is a faulty product?

The Consumer Rights Act define a faulty product as items that are not of satisfactory quality, the item is not fit for purpose, or the item is not as described or advertised.

The rules are also inclusive of faulty digital media like movies, games or apps. 

All products must meet these rules:

Satisfactory quality: The goods you have purchased should not be faulty or damaged upon receipt of the goods. It would help if you considered what you would class as satisfactory quality and what the retailer would think is satisfactory quality. For example, very cheap items are likely not as good quality as a more expensive item.

Fit for purpose: The goods should work for the purpose it is meant for, as well as any specific use that you made the retailer aware of before you bought the item.

As described: The goods supplied must match the description provided or images of the product shown to you at the time of purchase. 

How do you get a refund, repair or a replacement for your faulty item?

First of all, if you have bought goods that you believe is faulty, you have a right to reject the item, and you can return it within 30 days to receive a quick refund. Your right to reject begins on the day you first took ownership of the product. 

This would be either the day you purchased the goods in-store or the day the item was delivered to you if you ordered it online. You do not have the right to reject digital media; this is because the retailer has one opportunity to at first repair or replace the digital media before the consumer can claim for a refund.

If you are outside of the 30 day right to reject, the retailer should at first have the opportunity to repair or replace the goods. You can go back to the retailer within six months of purchase if you believe the item is faulty. 

This is especially good if you have purchased something as a gift and the person has not received the item until after the 30 days). It is presumed that if you find the fault within six months after purchase, then the fault was there, to begin with – unless the retailer can prove different.

If the retailer had attempted to repair or replace the item and it was unsuccessful within the first six months of ownership, the retailer must give a full refund. The retailer should not take a deduction from the total refund, the only exception to this rule is in the case of a refund for a motor vehicle, the retailer can make a deduction from the refund after 30 days for fair use.

If a fault is found after the first six months, the responsibility is on yourself to prove that the item you purchased was faulty at the time the goods were received. The retailer can also use fair use to take funds from any refund after the first six months of ownership of the item if an attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful.

You can claim small claims court within six years of receiving the product, and a fault is found. This means the item you purchased does not have to last for six years, but you can process a claim if a retailer refuses a refund.

How can you prove the fault was present at purchase?

There is no guaranteed way that you can prove a fault was present at purchase. There are a few ways in which you can back up your claim. 

The following methods could help support your request for a refund:

  1. If you can scout out a repair shop or find an expert to investigate and produce an independent report on a faulty product. Do check that the retailer is okay with the choice of expert that you have chosen.
  2. Check social media. Found out what other consumers are saying about the retailer or the specific product in which you are trying to receive a refund. Try and find as much evidence as you can collect about the faulty product. Moreover, if it seems to be a common issue, this will make your claim stronger.
  3. Ask your friends that may have the same product if they had any problems with the same item and if so ask if they received a refund for the item.
  4. If the retailer dismisses you and says there is nothing they can do, you can file a report to Trading Standards.
  5. If you have a guarantee or warranty, you should check the terms of use. If you are not making progress with the retailer, you should go straight to your warranty provider to make a claim.

What is a warranty?

The UK government defines a warranty as “a contract for cover for goods, which is entered into by a consumer and for which they pay a fee. A warranty is a form of insurance policy that provides cover for the unexpected failure or breakdown of goods, usually, after the manufacturer’s or trader’s guarantee has run out.”

Some warranties are service contracts rather than backed by insurance. Warranties can differ, and they can offer different levels of protection for the item you have purchased, from the most basic cover to those that provide comprehensive cover. For instance, you may be covered only for the value of the goods, or your warranty may allow you to receive a new item for old if a replacement is needed. Do not assume that a warranty will provide cover for all issues with your item. Warranties usually have exclusions that limit the protection you receive.

Most manufacturers guarantee their goods for a year, with some offering more extended guarantees for more expensive items. Some retailers provide a minimum of two years guarantee on all electrical goods they sell. Extended warranties can protect against faults for products that are up to eight years old; extended warranties are much more expensive to take out. 

Unless the retailer in question has stopped trading, most items being returned under warranty must go through the store where they were bought, so do not be dismissed off by retail staff passing the responsibility onto someone else.

What happens if you paid for your goods with a credit card?

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says that all purchases over £100 but under £30,000 must be protected. It is important to remember that debit cards do not often offer this type of protection so in some cases for a more high-value item it is better to pay on your credit card (for example, for a holiday or car) however you must remember that you need to pay back what you owe on your credit card.

You are protected by the following issues with credit card companies:

  • If your item is faulty or damaged and you are unable to claim a refund or replacement from the retailer or manufacturer.
  • Your item is not as described.
  • Your item was never delivered, and you were not provided with a refund.
  • If the retailer or manufacturer goes out of business before you’ve received your item.

Can I claim small claims court?

It would be best if you tried to resolve the issue between you and the retailer first and court should be seen as a last resort for something like this.

If all of your attempts to prove yourself have failed or the retailer has stopped responding to you, you should consider the following:

  • Is the retailer still in business?
  • Do you have a good chance of getting the results you want in court?
  • If you win, will you be able to get the money from the other side?
  • Is the amount of money at risk worth the cost of the court case?

If you are considering court action, anyone in England and Wales has to follow something called the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct. 

This is something that provides you and the respondent with clear steps to follow to help you resolve the issue. If this is not possible, the Practice Direction will inform you of the steps needed to take your dispute to court.

What should you do if your item causes death, damage or injury?

According to the Consumer Protection Act 1987, any person who has been harmed by a dangerous product can sue the manufacturer, even if you were not the person who originally purchased the item. You can sue for compensation for death or injury. 

As well as this, you can sue for damage or loss of property caused by faulty goods if the damage is the equivalent to £275 or less. Dependent on the type of harm suffered, the amount you may receive will vary, there is also no upper limit to compensation.

Key Takeaway

If someone violates your consumer rights, you may have a legitimate claim against the seller, supplier or manufacturer. Find the fastest and most cost-effective solution to your problem.

Consumer rights solicitors are specialists with extensive experience in resolving disputes between consumers and retailers or service providers. 

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