It’s that time of the year again when retailers battle it out to secure your custom and you are bombarded with propaganda to buy buy buy.
It starts today with what is officially Black Friday, although each year the build-up seems to get earlier and earlier with many retailers already inducing customers with pre-Black Friday deals. This will follow with Cyber Monday, Boxing Day sales and then finishing with January sales. Although sometimes it appears sales go on all year round, and you never really have to buy anything full price any more.
It can be difficult to resist the temptation to secure a bargain but you should avoid panic buying and ensure that you know your basic statutory rights when buying something in a sale.
What did you buy?
Any item which is purchased should:
- Be of satisfactory quality
- Be as described
- Be fit for purpose
- Last for a reasonable length of time
The above is provided for in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for any goods purchased after October 2015).
The vast majority of shopping now takes place virtually. There are additional protections for this type of shopping in the form of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges Regulations 2013.
Sellers of goods and services at a distance (online, over the phone, from a catalogue or face to face at home) must provide certain key information to the buyer, such as:
- A full description of the product or service being sold
- The total price and how to make payment
- How to cancel and who will pay for the costs of return
- All additional delivery charges and other costs
We all know that feeling of regret as soon as we part with our hard-earned cash when we have a change of heart about whether we really wanted to buy that item or whether we got a good bargain.
Luckily the law allows us to cancel an order made within a ‘cooling off’ period – 14 days (of delivery of the item if purchased online) or 30 days if the item is faulty.
Once you have decided to cancel the order, you are responsible (unless otherwise agreed) for the return of the item within a further 14 days (unless the item is faulty and in which case the seller should bear those costs).
Your refund should then be received within 14 days of proof of posting or when the seller receives the returned item.
Taking it further
If the seller refuses to refund your money, what should you do?
If you have exhausted their own complaints procedure, then you can also complain to trading standards, relevant ombudsmen, regulators or watchdogs.
If you have purchased an item worth more than £100 (but less than £30,000) by credit card then under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 you have the same rights (of refund, repair, or replacement) against the credit card company as you do against the seller. This is particularly useful as it applies to purchases aboard too.
For items purchased on a debit card, or for less than £100 (on certain credit cards too) then the buyer can ask the card provider to assist with claiming back some of the money spent on a faulty item from the seller’s own bank – this is known as ‘charge back’. This is more limited and discretionary though.
Also, consider whether you have a guarantee or warranty for the item with the manufacturer themselves which you could invoke for faulty goods.
If all else fails then you have the right to issue a claim for compensation in court and if the item is less than £10,000 you will be allocated to the small claims track. Further guidance on this can be found on the government website. You can seek further advice and assistance from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Law Centre.
Everybody loves a good bargain especially around this festive period, and once you know your rights as a consumer, sale shopping should be less daunting.
Be safe, be sensible and be a savvy sale shopper.