Homebase announced on 14 August 2018 that it will close 42 stores across the UK. They will be shut over the next 16 months in addition to the 17 which already closed their doors earlier in the year. As well as the job losses at stores, around 300 people have been made redundant at the company’s head office in Milton Keynes.
Homebase gift vouchers
If you have gift vouchers for Homebase it would be wise to get them spent now. Why? Well it is likely that these 42 stores will close soon and others may well follow. You may well have to travel further to get them spent. Also, if the chain continues to have problems and closes altogether you will not be able to spend your gift vouchers at all.
The same applies to having to deal with any returns. It may also be more difficult if the chain is in trouble to assert your legal rights, as it possible that stores will try and encourage you to take repairs and replacements rather than a refund. Remember that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 entitles you to a full refund up to 30 days from purchase for items not fit for purpose or not of satisfactory quality. The act applies to the company as a whole and not to a particular store.
The restructuring company Hilco, which bought the chain for £1 in May 2018 has confirmed that it is planning a Company Voluntary Arrangement. This is a formal deal between an insolvent business and its creditors by which the company seeks to keep going, often through drastic cost savings, such as closing stores.
One hears it often “I know my rights” But do you? Here are the most common misconceptions.
Do you really know your consumer rights?
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!
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.
6) I have the packaging and I know when I bought it from what store so I should get redress for my faulty item
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.
7) The jumper doesn’t fit the trader has to give me my money back.
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?