Don't be fobbed off: your rights returning goods

A friend of mine recently got involved in a tussle with a retailer who'd sold her a laptop. The thing stopped worked within a couple of months of her getting it home - so she took it back to the shop and asked them to sort it out.

The retailer insisted she take it up directly with the manufacturer. And, of course, the manufacturer pointed her straight towards the retailer. So who was correct, and who are you supposed to deal with?...

If you have a problem with a purchase, some retailers will try to fob you off and get you to contact the manufacturer directly. In fact, this is bad practice and an attempt to dodge their legal duties.

Your contract (created under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act when the goods were sold to you) is with the retailer. It is therefore the retailer's responsibility to take things forward. For example, if an item is faulty, the retailer is the one who needs to replace it, or get it repaired for you.

Any manufacturer warranties are in addition to your basic statutory rights under consumer law: In short, the retailer should be your first port of call, so don't let them wriggle out of it!

Extra protection
It's also worth knowing about an extra layer of consumer protection that comes with paying by credit card.

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, you can claim against your card provider as well as the retailer if goods are faulty, or aren't 'as described'. In other words, the card provider is equally liable if something is not as it should be.

For this protection to come into effect, you need to have paid between £100 and £30,000 for the product in question. This sort of protection can be invaluable, for example, when a retailer or holiday provider has gone bust.

The retailer should still be your first port of call. However, if you're having no joy with them, contact your card provider instead. Very often, it will give you the refund or recompense you're after, and then chase the retailer for that cash itself.
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