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Complaining about faulty goods Laws

7 consumer rights misconceptions (and what they are really)

What are your consumer rights?

One hears it often “I know my rights” But do you? Here are the most common misconceptions.

Do you really know your consumer rights?

Consumer rights misconceptions list of headings

1) I received the wrong item, unsolicited goods I can keep them!

No, you can’t.  See  All you need to know about unsolicited goods. I actually stopped comments on this post because despite it clearly stating all the things that are not unsolicited good people were desperate for me to tell them that their case was different! Only one example was unsolicited and that was an item from Estonia! If you have received an item by mistake it is NOT unsolicited goods and you need to take reasonable steps to ensure that the item is returned at no cost to you. (More advice in that post).

2) It was marked at that price so I can have it at that price!

Nope. Quite simply any price tag is an “invite to treat.” There have been some high profile case such as the Harrods handbag story Christmas 2017. If however, you have bought it at said price and have received a confirmation then you have entered a contract and then the trader must honour the price otherwise in breach of the Consumers Rights Act 2015.  If the trader has specifically advertised it at one price and then won’t honour it would be breach of  the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014).

3) It’s the manufacturer’s fault

That’s as maybe but it isn’t the manufacturer to whom you send the faulty item. In fact it’s a very common fob off from retailers. Your contract is always with the retailer to whom you gave the money. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies. Within 30 days of purchase you are entitled to a full refund. After this time a repair of replacement. The retailer may say you should send off for a repair. Don’t accept this. You’ll be paying postage! Always remember contract is with retailer.

4) My item is under warranty so I have to use that and send it to the manufacturer though?

Warranties are like insurance they are rarely better than your consumer rights. A warranty may help when the item is older than 6 months. This is because although your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 remain, the only difference is that after 6 months from point of purchase the onus is on the customer to prove that the fault was there when they bought the item. You could still do this though of course. Complain to the retailer and take the case to the relevant ADR scheme if there is one for the retailer who is likely to undertake an independent report at the cost to the retailer. If you want to be quicker and/or are unsure that the fault was there at point of purchase then you could use it. Some brands on specialist items do have really long warranties/guarantees so keep the paperwork for these!

A warranty may help if you use the item more than the average. So let’s take a washing machine as an example. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, an item should last a reasonable length of time. For a washing machine it would ultimately be down to a court to decide what is reasonable. But let’s say that the majority of people would expect a washing machine that is on a few times a week to last 6 years. (You couldn’t go to court after 6 years). But if you have your machine on at least once a day every year for two years the company could discover that it is the same amount of use as a 6 year old machine and therefore wear and tear. A warranty may save you there.

Remember however the cost of a warranty and at what point it would be better than your consumer rights and how much it would cost you at that point!

5) I’ve only had my item two months, the store has to give me a refund

It doesn’t actually. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to goods and services that are fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality, as described and last a reasonable length of time. However, after 30 days from point of purchase the retailer can offer a refund or repair. They must give a refund before 30 days.

  1. 6) I have the packaging and I know when I bought it from what store so I should get redress for my faulty item

  2. This is a common misconception. People hear that they don’t need a receipt but don’t always hear the second part! You don’t need a receipt but you DO need a proof of purchase, so this could be a credit card bill statement where a store can trace the transaction.
  1. 7) The jumper doesn’t fit the trader has to give me my money back.

  2. Sadly not. This is considered a “change of mind” and it is down to the goodwill of the company. If there’s nothing wrong with the item and it’s as described you  will have to see the store’s terms and conditions.However. If the item was bought online you do have more rights. You have a 14 day cooling off period. You may have to pay return postage costs if there is nothing wrong with the item. For more on online rights see Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries.For more about unwanted purchases and gifts see What to do with the ghost of Christmas Present?

 

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Latest News water and energy

Your rights if your water supply has been interrupted

Water supply and your consumer rights

How to complain about your water

Water companies are regulated by Ofwat. Every company must follow the Guaranteed Standards Scheme which relates to compensation in the event of service failure.washing potatoes under running tap

However, the standards do not apply in certain situations, including extreme weather. But all is not lost!

Criticism of water companies

In many areas of the country thousands of people were left without water after burst and leaking pipes. The Financial Times reported that industry experts were critical of the water companies.

“For water mains to be affected, the frost needs to penetrate 600mm or 2ft under ground and we haven’t had that degree of penetration so I don’t believe them. Is it because they haven’t upgraded the pipes as they say they do?” asked Roland Gilmore of Thames Blue Green Economy, a lobby group concerned with improving London’s water-related environmental problems.”

“Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat’s new chief executive, said: “While the recent severe weather conditions have undoubtedly had an impact on pipes and infrastructure, water companies have been warned time and again that they need to be better at planning ahead to deal with these sorts these situations, including proactively communicating with customers when they anticipate issues.””

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London also condemned Thames Water saying that the weather should not have caused these problems. Given this criticism, it is worth complaining and trying to claim compensation if you were without water.

running water

What you can claim when your water supply has been cut off

Normally, water companies should provide a minimum of 48 hours’ notice of any interruption to supply and provide details of when it will be restored. If it does not or does not restore supply by the specified time then you are usually entitled to £20 compensation and a further £20 if you don’t receive the first £20 within 28 days. In cases where an emergency such as a burst pipe has cased interruption the company must restore the water within 12 hours although this rises to 48 if it is a strategic main pipe. The company must tell consumers as soon as possible regarding where an alternative water supply can be obtained, when it plans to restore the supply and a telephone number for more information.

If the supply is not restored by the time the company says it will be, compensation is due. £20 for the first 24 hours and £10 for each further 24 hour period the supply remains unrestored. If the interruption lasts more than 12 hours, the company should provide an alternative supply. For example, bottled water or tankers in the street. (Known as bowsers).

South East Water complaints

I was on BBC Radio Kent this morning (06 March 2018) talking water, energy and rail rights in relation to the extreme weather. Douglas Whitfield the Head of Operations at South East Water was on answering questions. When asked if SE Water would be compensating customers he said that they would be writing to all to all customers. Pushed again he repeated himself and pushed again on whether this would definitely include compensation he laughed and said “Maybe”. So take from that what you will. Given the amount these companies pay their shareholders they can afford to compensate you!

How you should complain about your water supply

Follow the Top 20 Tips How to Complain to make your complaint effective. You can write to the CEO. S/he will not respond personally but the matter will be taken more seriously and escalated above the customer services. Contact details for CEOs can be found at ceoemail.com.

Taking your complaint further

The standards clearly state that the scheme does not affect any legal rights to compensation that customer may have.

If you are not satisfied with your water company’s response you can take the matter to the Consumer Council for Water and ultimately the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. In Scotland the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and in Northern Ireland the Consumer Council.

Related utilities and weather complaints 

Your rights with weather-related energy problems on electricity pylonFreezing energy problems? Your rights all you need to know all you need to know about your rights with weather related issues and your energy supply.snow on train track Left out in the cold by a rail company - your rights

Left out in the cold by a rail company? Your rights all the information you need to complain about delays and cancellations regarding your rail travel.

 

See Everything You Need to Know About Your Water Supply for even more on your water supply

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for lots of information, advice, consumer laws and rights, tips and template letters.