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ADR Ombudsman Case studies complaints resolved for people Complaining about faulty goods Laws

How to complain about furniture and gain redress

The Complaining Cow doesn’t sit around when solving a recliner sofa problem

Lorraine’s complaint against DFSsofa showing huge gap in the middle between the two seats at the front

In November last year Lorraine bought two recliner sofas from DFS. When they arrived she discovered that one of the recliners didn’t work, the sofas moved and separated and didn’t match. One recliner tipped right over while people were on it. It did it again when her grandson was on it and when her friend’s large dog jumped up onto it too!

Lorraine contacted DFS on the day of delivery regarding the broken recliner. She was told that it could take up to 8-12 weeks for a replacement if the broken one couldn’t be fixed.

sofa woman with baby on one side with hand down the middle showing the gap

Days later she called again about the dangerous tipping of the other sofa and asked for it to be removed. DFS refused to do this. Oddly she was told that the movement was normal and that once reclined you weren’t supposed to move! Not moving when sitting down? Really? In any case, in addition to this absurdity she had been told in store that it was safe for the children if they climbed on it, even when in the reclined position. Lorraine said that DFS staff “didn’t seem bothered that it had tipped with people in it”.

Continuing complaint against DFS

Over the next few days she spoke to a number of people from DFS. She dealt with different people from various departments as she was sent from pillar to post. One of the reasons I always advocate writing not phoning is to avoid this situation. It also ensures that you have your evidence trail. Eventually she spoke to the manager of the store who, when she asked for a refund, told her “that’s not going to happen”. She explained about all the problems with the sofas, in particular the issues with children’s arms getting trapped. The photos and even a video showing the tipping were still not enough to get a refund, according to DFS.

DFS said they would send out a representative to come out assess the sofa.

Then Lorraine got in touch with me….

The Complaining Cow resolves DFS customer complaint

Lorraine had already agreed that DFS could inspect the sofas the following day. So I advised her to write, stating that she reserved her rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. (CRA). The CRA states that if the item is not of satisfactory quality that the customer is entitled to a full refund up to 30 days from point of purchase. Having reported one issue on the day of delivery and another days later, she was entitled to a full refund on both. If you reserve your rights it means that you can still claim a full refund at a later point if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction.

In the meantime… I advised Lorraine to write to the CEO. (Find contact details for CEOs at ceoemail.com) And refer to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and her right to reject the goods for a full refund. I also advised threatening to take the matter to the Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman. It costs companies to be a member and for each case to go to an Ombudsman so it is in their interests to resolve issues to avoid Ombudsman involvement. The company needs to be a member of the scheme and DFS is a member.

You can threaten court if the retailer is not a member of an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme (usually an Ombudsman). It is part of the court protocol, see (The Small Claims Court process made simple) to attempt ADR first. So if the retailer is a member of an ADR scheme the Judge would not look favourably at the case if it has not been tried.

DFS complaint resolved to the full satisfaction of the customer

Within 24 hours, the head of DFS Group Customer Services telephoned. He apologised most profusely and confirmed her sofas would be collected. Lorraine received a full refund of £2,225.

More help for complaining effectively about furniture.

Rip Off Britain talking getting redress with independent reports and ombudsmen

Download Rejecting faulty furniture from a Furniture and Home Improvement member template.

Download rejecting faulty goods template.

 

For more help on complaining effectively see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

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You can purchase templates to download for complaining about furniture. See Goods, services & delivery complaint templates.

 

 

 

 

5 Ombudsman myths busted for more information about Alternative Dispute Resolution and how to best prepare and what to avoid.

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

For masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Lorraine’s review of the book is here.

 

 

 

 

Sofa with gap in middle

 

 

Categories
ADR Ombudsman

Ask the Chief Ombudsman: Furniture & Home Improvement

Kevin Grix writes a guest blog post

Shopping

It seems that we are a nation built upon a love for retail therapy. Shopping on the high street is an ever popular leisure activity and even when we are relaxing at home it’s possible to purchase via our laptops, tablets and smart phones with delivery direct to our doors.  There are always issues such as Sunday trading hours, online shopping, deliveries and the impact of a ‘Brexit’ on the high street  in the news. This helps  illustrate the impact that shopping has on our daily lives.

All of us are consumers and at one point or another it’s inevitable that we’ll feel let down with a product that we have purchased or a service that we have received.

Billions of transactions take place each year – tills ring out across the country from Monday to Sunday. Shoppers walk away happy most of the time. And so, it’s helpful to keep things in perspective.

What are the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman and The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman?

The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman (DRO) incorporates The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman. Established in 1992 it is a Government approved not-for-profit Ombudsman scheme. It has been providing independent dispute resolution services to consumers and retailers for over 25 years, making it one of the oldest and most important Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services in the country.

What do TFHIO and DRO deal with?

During all these years we have helped to resolve tens of thousands of problems with all sorts of goods and services.  Our members include most of the largest high street retailers in the country. But we also have lots of independent stores too, making our jurisdiction across thousands of retail outlets. In fact the widest of its kind in the United Kingdom. Traders, customers and consumer champions like The Complaining Cow Helen Dewdney, trust us because of our heritage, independence, and the work that we do to raise standards.

The majority of the issues that we see are often limited to expensive big ticket purchases; furniture, kitchens, bathrooms and other home improvement installations. We can investigate disputes involving all sorts of other smaller value retail goods and services (and sometimes we do). However there isn’t usually much need for us to get involved. Why? It’s probably because smaller faulty items are more easily returned by the customer to shop in exchange for a suitable remedy such as a repair, replacement or refund – and that’s what usually happens.

Generally speaking, responsible retailers are good at putting things right for their customers if things go wrong. Thankfully many of those retailers subscribe to our scheme which gives us the power to put things right if they do go wrong.  It’s worth remembering that retailers have been trading for several hundred years. Way back in the early 1900s, retail pioneer Harry Selfridge was attributed with the quote “the customer is always right”. He knew how important it is to keep them happy, to reward their loyalty, and encourage repeat custom.

Independent Furniture Reports

When a case comes to us, we may undertake an independent report. This will determine if the fault lies with the company or not. The company pays for this and the whole service from start to finish is free to consumers. It is a myth that Ombudsmen see in favour of companies because they pay to be a member. Companies pay to be members and per case.

Rip Off Britain talking getting redress with independent reports and ombudsmen

5 Top Tips for preventing problems when shopping

But things sometimes do go wrong and here are five of my top tips on what you can do to limit the risk of that happening – and what you can do to put it right:

  1. Make sure the goods or services that you are considering purchasing are going to be right for your needs, especially if it’s an expensive purchase – do your research and shop around.
  2. If you feel that you need to complain, understand what your rights are and be realistic about what you are entitled to receive from the trader to put it right. There are some great consumer law resources available to buy or to download online.
  3. Tell the trader why you are unhappy and what you would like them to do about it. Try using a reliable template to write an effective letter or email. This will help you to keep things clear and orderly.
  4. If you are buying furniture or other home improvement goods or services such as a kitchen, bathroom or flooring, always shop with a member of The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman because if things do go wrong you will have free and independent redress.
  5. If the goods or services that you’re purchasing aren’t furniture or home improvements check to see if the trader is registered with Dispute Resolution Ombudsman. If things go wrong with those you will receive free and independent advice.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): What it all means post that explains what it is all about and how you can use it.

5 myths about Ombudsman providers busted common misconceptions about Ombudsmen.

Government and regulators continue to fail on resolving consumer disputes this post describes how government funded bodies are failing to regulate the non regulated ADR sector. Links to other posts and reports.

Landing in court with Ryanair warning about using AviationADR when dealing with aviation complaints.

Energy ombudsman shows how to keep heat on your supplier a  guest post from the Energy Chief Ombudsman outlining how to ensure you get a satisfactory response when you submit a case to an  Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles the research reports. The look at how some ADR schemes such as the one run by Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited which used to run The Retail Ombudsman and lost the title are monitored.

Westminster Business Forum seminar Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper. 15/11/18

Presentation. Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest possible sense of the words…

How approval bodies are failing to properly approve and monitor Alternative Dispute Resolution -

 

Kevin Grix bibliography

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Kevin graduated from a law degree, prior to studying to be a Barrister in London, at the Inns of Court School of Law. He was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, after successfully passing his Bar exams and is also professionally qualified by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).

Kevin is a freeman of the City of London, Liveryman at the Furniture Makers’ Company, and represents the Ombudsman on the All Party Parliamentary Group for furniture at the Houses of Parliament. He is a member of the Chartered Trading Standards Business Members Group. He also sits on the executive committee of the Ombudsman Association and the advisory board at the Independent Football Ombudsman.

 

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