What's on

Retailer myths exposed by Dean Dunham

publication date: Aug 24, 2013
author/source: Dean Dunham

Dean DunhamI recognised a long time ago that the majority of Brits do not know what their consumer rights are and I set out to change this, via my website. A recent consumer survey has confirmed this, reporting that nearly half of the population do not know their rights, whilst 29 per cent of Britons have lost time or money through not understanding their consumer rights.

The most common problems arise in relation to retailers so with this being the case here are the myths that you need to know:

Verbal contract? It's not worth the paper it's written on

This is not true. Verbal contracts are legally binding.

No refunds on sale items

This sign is so common in shops. Whether they can do this or not depends on why the goods were on sale. If they were reduced in price because of a fault that was either pointed out to you or that you could have been "reasonably" expected to notice before you bought it, then you are not entitled to a refund. But, if it was just on special offer or in the sales, you are entitled to get your money back if it turns out to have a fault, to have been inaccurately described, or not fit for the purpose that it was sold for.

We don't offer refunds - you must accept a credit note

If you buy goods that turn out to be faulty, the law says that the contract you made when you bought those goods has been broken by the seller. You are therefore entitled to cancel the contract (as long as you have acted within a reasonable amount of time) and get a full refund.

We can't do anything without a receipt

There is no legal obligation for shops to even give you a receipt, let alone for you to keep it. Shops should accept any proof of purchase, like a bank statement or credit card bill (if you paid by credit or debit card). If you paid in cash and have not kept the receipt, you may have difficulty proving that you bought the item.

It is not my fault if it doesn't work. Make a complaint to the manufacturer

It is the person who sold you the goods with whom you have made a contract. They are therefore responsible for dealing with any problems, and not the manufacturer.

It was fine when I sold it to you. You must have broken it!

If something breaks and you inform the trader within six months of purchase it is the trader's duty to prove that the item had no fault at the time it was sold to you. If you have had the item for over 6 months it is your duty to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase.

If you have a complaint you will have to bring it back to the shop and we'll discuss it

No matter what the size or weight of the goods it is technically always the seller's duty to collect faulty items. If it is simply a case of you having changed your mind, you do not have these automatic rights but many traders will come and collect large or unwieldy items from you in the interests of customer service.

If you shop online you have fewer consumer rights

This is totally wrong. In fact if you shop online you have greater consumer rights as you have the right to ‘change your mind’ and get a refund for the goods. To take advantage of this you have to tell the retailer within seven days of receiving the goods that you want a refund.

You have no rights when buying second-hand or sale items

Unless the retailer has highlighted a specific problem with the item before you purchased it, items purchased second hand or in a sale still have to be of satisfactory quality.