From today we all have new rights under the Consumer Rights Act. This new legislation bolsters the Sale of Goods Act and should make it easier for all of us to get a better deal if something we pay for is faulty. The new shopping rights arrive just as the shops get busy for Christmas.
But it will still be up to us to shop well as there will be plenty of cowboys trying to pass off substandard goods to the unwary. It will also be up to all of us to use these new shopping rights whenever something goes wrong with a new purchase. We will have 30 days to take back items that are faulty with the right to get a cash refund. Many stores have tried in the past to fob us of with a repair or a replacement rather than part with the cash.
To make use of the new rights we need to be business-like. When shopping it is important to state what you want to use the item for. If you do not state your expectations the retailer does not have the opportunity to assess whether your purchase is fit for the purpose.
Receipts should be kept, but if lost proof of purchase, such as a credit card record should be sufficient. More importantly if something is faulty it is vital to take it back within 30 days.
Services and second-hand
While most major high street retailers have a policy of handling complaints well it is easy to fall foul of a sales assistant having a bad day. It will also be useful for those buying second hand goods bought from a retailer or paying for services such a car repairs.
If something you buy fails or develops a fault in the first month make sure you take the relevant paperwork with you to the store and that you can explain calmly and clearly why you are taking the item back. Too many people failed to get their shopping rights under the Sale of Goods Act because they allowed the retailer to bamboozle them. If the sales assistant is unhelpful then you need to escalate the complaint to the owner or head office of the business. Clearly state the problem and if possible include photographic evidence.
Some customers may still meet with an intransigent retailer and to help them an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme has been set up complete with a Retail Ombudsman to help shoppers avoid legal costs.
Be on your guard
If you have shopped at a smaller retailer you have to be aware that there are lots of stores selling counterfeit goods that are unsafe. These cowboys may not be there when you go back but if you have proof of purchase you should take the offending article to your local Trading Standards Department and they should help you to pursue your claim.
But remember before you part with money if an item seems to be too cheap there will be a reason. It is likely to be substandard. It is better to be on your guard when you shop than to have to take your shopping back.