Have you ever ordered a takeaway that has taken significantly longer than advertised to deliver?
A consumer is totally within their rights to reject the order when it arrives. Consumers have a right to a discount on the order if they decide to keep it.
In fact, if the delivery was so late that the consumer has had to order another takeaway at additional cost to the original order, they could argue that in law they are entitled to the difference too. One must be reasonable, so the delay would need to be unreasonable and within the delivery company’s control.
Any food delivery company not delivering when promised would be in breach of a number of laws. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) services should be carried out with information given verbally or in writing to the consumer which is binding where the consumer relies on it. Any service must be carried out within the agreed time. Secondly, The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014) (CPUTRs) prohibit trading practices that are unfair to consumers and there are bans on Misleading Practices.
You may already have paid for the delivery before it arrives and the find it difficult to get the refund/discount. Take a picture of the delivery with the time and making copies of any evidence showing the delivery time. (Always make a note of the time you placed the order). Then write to the manager of the company with who you paid the money whether this is the actual delivery company or not, your contract is always with whom you paid your money.
Give details of date, time of order and time of delivery with any evidence. State that the company is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and The CPUTRs (using the information above). State that should you not be fully satisfied with the response then you will take the matter further which will include but not be limited to informing Trading Standards and detailing your experience on relevant review sites. You could even threaten the Small Claims Court but few people would carry this threat through. Quoting your legal rights in this way usually gets the redress you are owed!
Paying through an app? Your contract is always with whom you paid. So just like companies that try and fob you off and tell you to contact the courier when you’ve ordered something online… don’t be fobbed off re food delivery. Let the company you paid get its money back from the fast food place!
If you are still unhappy you can always write to the CEO, contact details for CEOs can be found at www.ceoemail.com. The CEO won’t necessarily respond personally but the matter will be escalated and taken more seriously. If more people started to complain and assert their legal rights then service would have to improve or companies would go under from providing refunds and discounts. As for companies who repeatedly breach the CPUTRs a breach is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine and two years’ imprisonment!
Today (20th October) is Conflict Resolution Day. Created in 2005 by the Association for Conflict Resolution1. It is now an annual celebration aimed at increasing awareness of the various peaceful, non-violent methods of dispute resolution (ADR) available to traders and consumers.
Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow blogger and author of How to Complain: The Essential Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! recommends ADR to consumers as a cost effective (usually free to consumer) and speedier process than going to court. She expresses concern over the current landscape though saying that many people don’t know about ADR. “Frequently I hear from people who are at the end of their tether with traders and although may be aware of an ombudsman for regulated sectors such as Finance, Energy and Telecoms they are less aware of other sectors such as property, vehicles and furniture.”
For example, The Furniture Ombudsman now incorporating The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman was set up by the Office of Fair Trading and has 25 years of experience in the retail sector dealing with complaints around furniture, home improvement and general retail goods. The independent, thorough investigation process frequently involving expert reports ensures a fair resolution for both parties, that consumers can trust. Kevin Grix, CEO of The Furniture Ombudsman and The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman advises consumers to become more aware of ombudsman schemes and protect themselves more from the outset. “Before you shop, make sure your trader of choice offers ADR and if you find yourself in a dispute, you can ensure you contact the right ADR scheme for the trader you have a contract with.“
Ombudsmen use adjudication, which is usually free to the consumer, binding on the trader but not on the consumer should s/he not agree and want to take the matter to court. However, lesser known but an alternative to Ombudsmen is mediation which puts the parties within a dispute in control of the outcome, taking into account wishes and needs not just legal entitlement. Jo Holland, a mediator consultant with 10 years’ experience finds that people often want to be heard, say their piece or just hear an apology and says “Consumers and businesses need choice and access to affordable and speedy dispute resolution. Mediation provides imaginative, practical and financial outcomes without the need to go to Court”
* The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) does not carry out basic “fit and proper” person tests before approving ombudsmen, their staff and contractors.
* One ombudsman is breaching Ombudsman Association rules on independence, openness & transparency. In particular, the company is running an “accredited retailer” programme in parallel with having the ombudsman role confusing consumers.
The use of ADR has the potential to offer consumers effective means of redress and the expansion into other sectors is welcomed but key issues must be resolved before bringing the whole sector into disrepute and lose confidence of consumers.
Many people have what some of us might consider as dodgy tumble dryers and have asked what they should do if they think they are affected and how long is reasonable to wait. Please read this post before asking what you should do, the answers are here!
In April 2018 I published a report. This report outlines the whole story. It includes contradictions, results of Freedom of Information Requests to Government departments and Peterborough Trading Standards, London Fire Brigade statistics and recommendations, research and investigations. All in one place.
This post below was written in February 2016 and updated in March 2017. Please see the link above for much more and updated information on the story.
So what is going on?
1) 113 different Hotpoint, Indesit or Creda tumble dryers have been recalled. However, it is not a full recall in that all machines are being replaced. The machines affected were manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. Dryers affected could pose a fire risk if fluff should come into contact with the heating element. 750 fires involving Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers have been reported since 2004, including three injuries. Update 12th March 2017 On the 23rd February Whirlpool has now amended advice and says to unplug and not use machine. It has still stopped short of a full recall. New advice.
2) Despite the potential risk, Whirpool has said the dryers are safe to use following precautions, such as not leaving the tumble dryer on when asleep, not leaving the house when it is on, cleaning the lint filter after every use, and ensure proper venting
3) Whirpool will send an engineer to check your tumble dryer and have said it will be a 6 – 8 week wait, alternatively they are telling some people that they have to wait until June because they are still recruiting engineers! Update in March now saying 3 weeks to get a call back and wait could be up to 10 months! Given how long everyone involved in this fiasco has known about the issues this is not good enough and in my humble opinion not a good enough reason for delay should you take the matter to court.
5) As of end February 2017 Whirlpool has finally changed its advice and said unplug and do not use.
What you should do if you think you are affected
1) If your tumble dryer is not affected there will be a green dot sticker insider the dryer either on the door, rim or back panel. Look for a green dot sticker inside the dryer either on the door itself or on the rim.
2) You may want to not use your tumble dryer despite Whirpool’s advice. After all, do you think it’s ok if it catches fire just because you are in the house?! I don’t!
3) Check to see if your appliances are affected. Hotpoint and Creda tumble dryers can be checked on the safety.hotpoint.eu website and Indesit ones here safety.indesit.eu Which? also uncovered the models affected and you can find the list here.
4) Contact the company and arrange for your service. Log all your calls, length or time on the phone and costs involved as you are due redress for this.
5) People are really struggling when ‘phoning to get the service sorted. I would advise putting your request in writing see here for why.
6) Check with your insurance company as to whether you are covered if your tumble dryer were to catch fire even if you were following the guidelines about sill being able to use it. If not, then use this information in your complaint/claim. Although, please also see point 6 below!
Your rights and what you can do if not happy with your situation
1) The affected tumble dryers were manufactured before October 1st 2015 and therefore, if bought prior to October 1st 2015 are covered by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. You are entitled to purchases that are fit for purpose and are of satisfactory quality. Whilst I agree that for you to be covered by this law, you should follow maintenance guidelines in the handbook, you should be able to put the machine on like you would a washing machine and dishwasher when you are asleep or out of the house! The affected tumble dryers are therefore not fit for purpose and not of satisfactory quality. Any products bought after 1st October 2015 are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
2) Under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 or Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. the company can legitimately charge you something towards a new machine as it can deduct an amount for use (after 6 months in the case of the CRA). You can argue how much this should be because if they are charging £99 for a replacement to a family of 4 who have used it for 3 years they should not be able to charge the same for a single person who has had the machine for a year! Some months have now gone by and you will only be entitled to a repair or replacement. The company says it will “modify” the appliance, so one assumes that this is the repair. Some people are getting a free replacement when they assert their legal rights and what they expect! Your rights are as with any other item, one chance at repair is enough before demanding replacement or partial refund.
3) If you stop using the machine because you deem it unsafe (and if the engineer carries out modifications then there is your proof that it was!) you are entitled to your out of pocket expenses. So if you go to the launderette for example, you are entitled to these costs plus cost of going there e.g. public transport/petrol. Update 12th March 2017 Whirlpool have now said unplug and do not use the machine.
4) Do not waste much time ranting on social media. The social media teams will be dealing social media simples! So many people are affected that you will be one of many and your case will not rise above another unless you get lucky. A few people have been lucky this way, most haven’t.
5) If you think the time to wait is too long, or you have been kept waiting longer than they advised or you want to claim, then go straight to the top. Go to ceoemail.com and contact the CEO outlining the issues and use the Tips for effective complaining here and the bestselling book which has more advice and templates here. State that you want a replacement or engineer appointment brought forward.
6) The Consumer Protection Act 1987 states that if you are harmed by an unsafe product you can sue the manufacturer. You can begin your court case up to three years from the date of the injury. In some cases, you can even sue up to ten years after the product was sold. If for instance you sustain a personal injury or damage to your property. The value of the damage must be more than £275.
7) Your contract normally is with the company to whom you paid the money; however, as the manufacturer has admitted fault your correspondence should be with them as in this case the manufacturer is responsible not the trader. But you could also contact the retailer and request a replacement or repair, you may find that a good retailer will also act on your behalf and get your engineer out to you quicker, or offer a refund. If you find the retailer unhelpful you can also go to the Furniture Ombudsman if the retailer is a member.
8) The “General Product Safety Regulations 2005” dictates that manufacturers must make arrangements for the collection and/or return of the product for destruction from consumers who have purchased the product.
Things still wrong after replacement or modification
Some people are getting in contact to say that they have had the repair or paid the £99 and had a new machine but still have problems. This is what you should do:
1) Contact them in writing. Most important that you have it in writing as evidence. Give details of date of repair (and all the issues getting to that point if it wasn’t straightforward) and that it is not working properly. Give details of the issue. State that as you have given them a chance under the appropriate law (see above) you are entitled to a replacement. They may still argue for for repairing again. Your choice may well then be between taking one more try or to carry on fighting through the Small Claims Court. See Tips for how you should write your email and what to include.
2) If you have paid the £99 for the replacement you have in effect entered into a new contract under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. As such, if you have had it less than 30 days you are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. After this time it is a repair or a replacement. Again, follow the tips for how to write the email and what to include.
3) If you have tried 1 and 2 above or are in the process please email me!
Consumer Empowerment Survey Report
This 95 page research study, carried out by GfK NOP Social Research, was designed to gain a better understanding of the attitudes of groups of consumers, and to build a stronger picture about their characteristics and engagement levels: particularly those consumers in vulnerable situations and/or on low incomes.
This report was finalised on the 15th March but not released by government until the 18th March. This was Budget Day. The report was given no press release or other coverage.
The report states that “…the market also requires empowered, active and informed consumers in order to flourish. Only then will the full benefits of competition – which include lower prices, greater innovation, efficiency and growth – be unlocked.
There is strong evidence that many consumers do not engage fully in their transactions;….. Whatever the barrier, it is the least engaged groups of consumers that are likely to miss out on the best deals, overpay for basic services, or even get ripped off”.
The report found that 57% of those surveyed said they felt very confident about making complaints post-purchase, but that only 32% were confident that the law would protect them.
A recent survey showed that fewer than 45% of people in the UK use their consumer rights and that only 7% said they know their legal rights well and use them regularly.
I’m not surprised by these findings of course, People frequently ask me about their legal rights, sometimes having heard of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act and may even know that items have to be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. But they have no idea how long “a reasonable length of time” is, or if they are entitled to a full refund or just a repair for example.
All these surveys and evidence show that a minority of the public know and assert their legal rights. People also cite time and effort as factors too. It takes more time and effort than it should, often because companies fob off the customer, so even the customers who have a passing knowledge of the Law don’t get the redress they are legally owed. Evidenced last week, when someone on Twitter was having trouble with a certain electrical goods retailer and their line on refund, repairs and replacement policy. When I joined in the conversation to help, the retailer blocked me! But Go to AO.com that’s what I say. Price match and if something goes wrong they deal with it properly and don’t try and fob you off. High praise indeed from me, yes!
The Impact of Local Authority Trading Standards in Challenging Times
The second report, “The Impact of Local Authority Trading Standards in Challenging Times” is dated February 2015, is 145 pages long has 6 recommendations and was released on the 20th March, again with little to no coverage.
The report explored the impact of budget cuts to local trading standards and tested the efficiency of services across the country. It said that changes had led to “a relatively weak, and probably diminishing, profile of trading standards, both within the public eye and within the local authority context.”
The loss of skills, knowledge expertise and the diminishing of these services in protecting consumers can only mean one thing. Increase in bad practice and decrease in protection for the consumer. The report even talks about staff who, in their own time carry out investigations because they feel it so important. Yet again the government relying on people’s good well to provide good services because decent people feel they have to do the extra. If they were treated better perhaps they would do more because they wanted rather than felt they had to. Bet that sounds familiar to NHS staff.
It is incredible that the government commissions, at great expense these two reports and then appears to ignore them. One shows how little people know about their consumer rights and the other discusses the impact of cuts in Trading Standards, the reduction in inspections and support for the consumer with increasing bad practices in companies as Trading Standards struggles to undertake the necessary proactive work.