Consumer Affairs: Refunds and repairs

Consumer rights can be a complicated so it pays to know the options available to you if you are seeking a refund or a repair on a purchase.

Consumer Refunds and Repairs

As consumers, we all tend to buy a variety of different things for ourselves, for others, or for our homes, from clothing and jewellery to electrical items, entertainment products and much more. However, whilst we may all have different tastes in terms of the things that we buy, the one thing we do all have in common is the desire to end up with products that work properly, are of high quality and do what you expected them to do.

Of course, we would all love to be able to avoid buying something until we were 100 percent sure of its reliability or quality. However, this is not always the case and is not always possible for whatever reason. Although it can be difficult to properly assess the quality and durability of a product before you buy it, there are certain steps that you can take to try and prevent issues or to get any problems sorted as soon as possible. There are also certain laws, guidelines and options available to you in the event that you are seeking a refund or a repair on the product that you have purchased. Whilst the whole area of consumer rights can be a complicated and indepth one, there are some things that you should bear in mind with regards to this topic.

What are the options if you buy something that is faulty or unsuitable?

If you buy something and it turns out to be faulty or unsuitable there are several possible options that may be available to you. However, do bear in mind that your entitlement will depend on the circumstances. For example, if the goods you bought were faulty or not as described, then you will generally be entitled to choose one of these options. However, if you bought something and have simply decided that you do not like it or want it anymore, your entitlement will be at the discretion of the retailer as opposed to legal entitlement.

The options that you may be entitled to choose from include:

  • A full refund: This is normally reserved for goods and services that are faulty, do not work in the way that they were meant to, are not as described, or has some other fundamental issue that is not your fault. Of course, some retailers may offer a full no quibble refund if you decide to return an item for any reason within a specified time frame, but this is something that you would need to check when you make your purchase. Bear in mind that when refunds are issued they are usually refunded using the same method that you used to pay e.g. if you paid by card the refund is issued back to your card rather than being a cash refund
  • Getting a repair: If the product your purchased turns out to be faulty, you may be offered a repair that will, of course, not cost you anything. In some cases, you may be given the option of a repair or a refund and you can choose the one that is most convenient for you
  • Getting an exchange: In some cases, the retailer may offer you an exchange if you change your mind about the product within a reasonable amount of time because it is unsuitable or even simply because you have changed your mind and no longer want it.

It is important to bear in mind that if there is nothing wrong with the goods that you have purchased and they are as described, the retailer is not obligated to do anything if you suddenly decide that you do not want the goods any longer. However, many retailers will offer some form of recourse as a gesture of good will, such as offering an exchange for something else, providing you return the goods within a reasonable amount of time rather than waiting for weeks or months to pass.

Taking further action relating to goods and services

Although most people do not experience problems when it comes to refunds, repairs and exchanges, providing they have a valid case or act within a reasonable time, there are some people that may want to take matters further. There are certain steps that you should follow if you are not happy with goods or services that you have paid for. The steps that you should consider following include:

  • Contacting the business: Your first course of action should always be to contact the business, as until you do this you will not know what your options are. You may find that you are able to get a refund, exchange or repair right away, which eliminates the need to take matters any further. If, however, the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction after you have contacted the business then you may want to consider taking it further
  • Follow the complaints procedure: If your initial contact with the business proves fruitless then you should ask about their complaints procedure. Not all businesses will have a structured procedure but some will and if they do you need to follow it. This could be something along the lines of sending your complaint in writing to a senior official or specialist complaints team
  • Taking it further: If you have followed the business' complaints procedure and you are still not happy, you can contact consumer affairs or the Fair Trading Office to highlight your complaint and find out whether they can investigate further
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