Complaining about faulty goods

How to complain about an item over a year old

Note – This is an old post. For purchases made before October 1st 2015 please see Consumer Rights Act 2015. The below will only apply for purchases made before this date.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979/Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994

Generally speaking if the item is less than 6 months old and the item is faulty then the consumer should receive a full refund (minus any depreciation of value of use, e.g. a car used for 4 months has had some use and will have depreciated in value) a replacement or a repair. After 6 months it is up to the customer to prove that the fault was there at point of purchase. However, only take this as a guideline. When my son said that we should complain and take something back to a pound shop, even I drew the line! But there are cases when you can and should claim redress after 6 months. (More on laws protecting you from faulty purchases here.)

A faulty sofa
Damaged sofa

A friend of mine had bought a sofa over a year ago from a mail order company, Studio. It was clearly faulty and she was having difficulty getting a full refund. I took to writing an email for the CEO. I stated that there were 2 really sharp metal rods (thin ones) poking through out of the fabric, so when hands are put down the middle bit of the sofa it really hurts, obviously. Karen had only done this once now knowing it is was there, however, the item is clearly faulty and she has very young children to consider. Originally she was told that because she had had the bed more than a year there was nothing that could be done. However, once this was checked further (with one assumes, the legal department) she was told that it would have to go to quality control. Karen was promised a call back that never came and she had to chase it up and get a form to fill in and request to send photos of the issue which she did. The proof of postage for this was available. Again she had to chase and ‘phone again to be told that her letter had not arrived. Since then a leg has literally snapped off when she sat on the end causing her to fall. It was now obviously not level.

The sofa was clearly faulty and under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 she was entitled to a full refund. It was easily proven that the fault was there from the start and so the fact that she had had this item for over a year is irrelevant. In addition to the full refund I expected them to arrange for removal of the sofa and provide redress for the inconvenience caused, not least the damage to Karen’s hand, the time spent on the matter and the stress involved. Karen had not been able to use the sofa bed and so also expected redress for this particularly in light of Studio’s delayed and non-existent responses pro longing the matter.

I added my usual see you in court line if not satisfied with the response…


Karen received a replacement (which is what she wanted) plus £50.

You should persevere when met with fob offs .

See Top 20 tips for effective complaining for lots of advice.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For consumer laws, information, advice and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!



5 top tips for complaining effectively






The Acts of law protecting you from poor service & faulty items

Consumer Rights Act

For goods and services made on or after the 1st October 2015 see the Consumer Rights Act

Rip Off Britain faulty goods your rights

For purchases of goods and services made before o1 October 2015 only:

Sale of Goods Act 1979 and updated Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994

For purchases made before o1 October 2015 only. Your rights under this Act are with the retailer and not the manufacturer. (Unless bought on Hire Purchase in which case the Supply of Goods Implied Terms Act 1973 applies, which makes the HP company responsible for the quality of the goods supplied and gives you slightly different rights.) Items must be:
Of satisfactory quality
Fit for purpose
Last a reasonable length of time
And as described

If not, the customer is entitled to a full refund or replacement. You can accept a repair but you do not have to do so and you maintain your rights if the repair is not satisfactory. The repair must be undertaken in a reasonable length of time.

Items should last a reasonable length of time. It is generally considered that an item should be returned within a few weeks. However, if an item breaks in the first 6 months it is considered that the fault was there at time of purchase and it is down to the retailer to prove otherwise. After 6 months it is generally considered that the customer has to prove that the fault was there at time of purchase.

You are not entitled to refunds for a change of mind purchase except for purchases made off premises such as online. Then you are covered by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

This Act was updated in 1994 amended and the word “merchantable quality” to “satisfactory quality”.

Generally for a full refund, you need to return the item up to 4 weeks. There is no set time but 3 – 4 weeks for larger items is considered normal. However, you can and should argue for a replacement at the very least and not a repair for larger items such as televisions and washing machines. I believe that if you were to go to court and test the “general rule” of 3 – 4 weeks at 4 weeks wanting a refund you’d win. Whenever I have threatened it or advised people to do so, the company has agreed which makes me think that a court would see in the consumer’s favour. Don’t be fobbed off either.

Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

For purchases made before o1 October 2015. A service can include goods e.g. fitting a bedroom whilst providing the furniture or without goods such as providing a providing accountancy services.

All services should be carried out:
with reasonable care and skill
in a reasonable time (if there is no specific time agreed); and
for a reasonable charge (if no fixed price was set in advance)

For examples of how these Acts have been used just look all over the blog! 🙂 Also of course examples of how to use this in stories and templates in the book and more tips on how to complain here.

legal action

Threaten legal action through the  Small Claims Court if the retailer is in breach of these Acts. Then do it!



book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For more consumer laws, tips, advice and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!