Can a retailer offer vouchers in place of a refund for a product that is found to be inherently faulty?
I bought a £160 Logik television from a Currys Digital store in May 2011 and in July this year it stopped working. My 93-year-old mother was told by the staff that it would cost £90 for an inspection and repair. I took over the case and offered to pay for an independent inspection.
Currys Digital said there was no need for this; it would inspect the TV free of charge and, if it was found to be inherently faulty, a cash refund of £120 would be given. I then got another email saying this refund would be provided in vouchers to spend in Currys Digital. When I argued that this breached consumer law, the company told me it was not the staff’s responsibility to inform me of my rights.
Read more: Consumer rights
Mr Geisler did not expect the staff at Currys Digital to inform him of his rights. He had already told them that if the fault was inherent, he was entitled to a repair, replacement or pro-rata refund under the Sale of Goods Act.
He told us that because he was an avid reader of Consumeractive, it meant he was also well aware that the onus was on him to find out if the fault was inherent and not fair wear and tear or accidental damage.
He was shocked when an email from Currys Digital said: “It is not the duty of the store staff to advise customers of their rights under the Sale of Goods Act, it is the customer’s responsibly to raise this entitlement with the staff at the time the issue is discussed.”
This does not allow Currys Digital employees to breach the law. If Mr Geisler wanted to challenge the legality of the refund then he had every right. Employees should know that the store cannot insist on providing vouchers for inherently faulty goods instead of a repair, replacement or pro-rata refund.
A Currys Digital representative said the company would investigate why Mr Geisler was given inaccurate advice.
Refunds: what the Sale of Goods Act says
People in the UK have up to six years (or five in Scotland) to claim that goods are inherently faulty. The term covers faults caused by poor design or manufacturing but if they have had the product for more than six months, buyers must prove that the fault is inherent.
In the first six months from purchase, however, sellers have to prove the fault is not inherent. If you opt for an independent inspection by an expert and an inherent fault is found, the cost of the inspection must be reimbursed.
The value of the refund depends on the age of the goods and use the customer has had from them. Retailers can offer vouchers instead of cash, cheque or credit to a bank account but the customer has the right to refuse this in favour of a monetary refund.
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