Whenever you purchase an item, whether that be online or in store, you will automatically be protected by consumer rights.
These rights, which are enshrined in law, will ensure you will be covered when you buy goods and services should anything go wrong.
Knowing these rights is incredibly important and many consumers may think are aware of what they are entitled to, this is not always the case.
Consumers automatically have rights every time they make a purchase at a store or online
Shoppers may have misconceptions about what is and isn’t the law while rights have also chopped and changed over the years.
To help consumers know their rights, This is Money reveals some of the biggest misconceptions about returns, refunds and guarantees as a refresher ahead of the festive period.
1. Your guarantee is with the retailer, not the manufacturer
If you have a faulty item, the retailer is responsible, not the manufacturer, even though they made it.
If what you’ve bought isn’t of satisfactory quality, is not as described or isn’t fit for purpose, then the retailer that sold it to you is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
This means that your statutory consumer rights are against the retailer – the company that sold you the product – not the manufacturer.
Consumers can still make a claim against the manufacturer if you have a guarantee or warranty, or if the product has caused additional damage or injury, but it is recommended that they deal with the retailer in the first instance.
Any rights that you have against the manufacturer, such as a warranty, are in addition to your legal rights in consumer law.
2. There is an EU law that says electrical items are covered for seven years
This is not true. Instead, there is an EU law, under consumer guarantees, that stipulates retailers must give the consumer a minimum two year guarantee as a protection against faulty goods, or goods that don’t look or work as advertised.
In some countries, the national law may provide longer guarantees.
Under this law customers can claim a refund, a replacement, a reduction in price or a repair.
Stores can also offer the consumer an additional commercial guarantee which can either be included in the price of the product or at an extra cost but this does not replace the two year guarantee.
With the UK leaving the EU on 31 December 2020, it has not yet been revealed whether this protection will continue for customers in Britain.
However, in England, consumers are still covered for six years under the Consumer Rights Act. See below to find out more.
Knowing your consumer rights can help customers if something goes wrong with a purchase
3. Consumers get six years cover automatically
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, it is stated that items must be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time.
If an item you have purchased it is not one of these things, you can use the Act to get the item repaired, replaced or refunded.
You will have six years to claim under these rights, however, a retailer could take money off any refunded costs for fair usage.
After the first six months the onus is also on you to prove a fault was present at the time you took ownership of the goods.
4. There is a 30 day deadline for customers to complain
In the first 30 days after purchase, you have the right to reject the goods. This means you can return an item which does not meet the criteria for a full refund.
After 30 days, you can still complain but you are not legally entitled to a full refund unless an attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful.
In this scenario, they would also be unable to deduct any money off of the refund for fair usage.
For digital downloads, where a repair of the original download is not possible, you should be given the chance to download it again.
If an issue develops after the first six months of purchase, the burden is on the consumer to prove that the product was faulty at the time the goods were delivered to you.
5. All you need to claim your statutory rights is proof of purchase
All retailers will insist upon seeing proof of purchase before they can refund or replace an item.
However, some customers may have lost their receipts in the time between purchase and needing to make a claim.
If you have lost your receipt and your goods are faulty, you still have the right to a repair, refund or replacement under the Consumer Rights Act.
To prove purchase, you can show a bank transaction on your statement or if you can remember the date and rough time you bought the item, the store may be able to locate the receipt themselves.
Whilst previously holding on to receipts of everything you bought could be a pain, many stores will also now offer to send over a digital version which you can keep in your email inbox in case it is needed.
Do I have to register an appliance to validate my guarantee?
A question that is often asked is whether consumers need to register their appliances and other purchases for a guarantee to be valid.
Often when buying items a leaflet will come included that encourages customers to register to validate, even though many assume they are automatically entitled to the guarantee without having to do anything.
To find out whether you need to register an appliance or not, click here.