10 Frequently Asked Questions on Consumer Law and Consumer Rights
1. I purchased some items in a shop, but they are faulty. Can I return them?
Ignore the Policy that the shop has. Whatever their Policy, it cannot affect your Statutory Rights. If they try to say that their Policy overrides your Statutory Rights, this is untrue. If on their Policy, they do not state that their Policy ‘does not affect your Statutory Rights’, point out to them that by not doing so, it is an offence, and if they continue to ignore you, contact your local Trading Standards Officer and report them for this misdemeanour.
2. I have lost my receipt, but have a Bank Statement showing the date I purchase the goods from a particular shop. Will that be acceptable ?
You have to generally show proof of purchase., Ideally a receipt is the best form of proof, but failing that, a Bank Statement showing the amount paid on a particular day, should be sufficient.
3. What are my Statutory Rights ?
Your Statutory Rights are those rights conferred to you in Law under various Act of Parliament, primarily the Sale of Goods and Services Act. Section 12, 13, and 14, reflect that what you purchase has to be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, at a reasonable price, and will last a reasonable length of time.
4. I bought some jeans and they fell apart by the seams after only 2 weeks of purchase. Can I get my money back ?
Provided that you did not cause the seams to open by for example buying jeans too small for you and doing your best to fit in them, or else doing marathon training in them (as examples), you should be able to get a full refund.
5. The shop will only exchange goods and will not refund me my money. Can they do that ?
They can certainly offer you such an exchange. They have to place you in a position that you would have been had the product been of satisfactory quality. If you are unhappy with the goods and you persist, you will get your money back.
6. The shop refuses to refund me my money ?
You have recourse to try and mediate the matter, or else as a final resort to go to Court. Before doing so, Speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or a local Solicitor to understand your rights, the costs involved, and the risks of proceeding.
7. I want to go to Court. How do I do it ?
In 1999, Lord Woolf, overhauled the Civil Procedure Rules and created Pre-Action Protocols in order that the Parties to a dispute could fully understand the claim being made and issues involved, and could try and find a way to resolve matters without going to Court. According to commercial litigation solicitors J E Baring, if you do not follow the Pre-Action Protocol, the Courts usually take a dim view and if costs are awarded, not following such protocols is likely to count against you.
8. Is there a Pre-Action Protocol that applies specifically to Consumer Law ?
There is not such a specific Pre-Action Protocol, but in the absence of a specific protocol, then Annex A at Paragraph 4 to the Practice Directions of the Pre-Action Protocols applies and you need to follow it, and set your case out accordingly, giving reasonable times for the offending Party to respond.
9. I have exhausted the Pre-Action Protocol, and want to go to Court. How do I do it ?
If your claim is under £5,000 the Small Claims Procedure is likely to apply. This means that some days before a hearing of this matter, you will need to mutually exchange all documents and Statements you wish to rely upon, and also file a copy with the Court. Also, in a small claims procedure, legal costs are unlikely to be recovered unless the other side has behaved unreasonably, in which case the Court has discretion to award costs.
10. Should I ever compromise my case ?
There are various adages which apply to Consumer Law and disputes generally: ‘There is no smoke without fire’…’This is a case of 6 of 1 and 1/2 a dozen of the other, or a case of 6 and 2, 3s’….If a shop offers you some compensation or monetary refund, think long and hard before rejecting it. Going to Court and following the procedure can be daunting and takes up lots of time, usually far more time than you would have wanted to spend. Consider the offer carefully and it is always sensible to take advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, or a Solicitor.