Am I Entitled to a Refund?
Unhappy With Your Purchase?
When we pay money for something we are generally in a positive state of mind about the purchase: that what we’re buying is worth the money, that it’ll work, that it’s what we expect and that we’ll be happy with it. This is reflected in the law under the Sale of Goods Act which states that when a consumer (a private individual) buys from a business (not a private individual) they are entitled to expect a number of things: that the goods will be as described, fit for their purpose and of satisfactory quality.
These rules change slightly if you are buying something for business use. If a defect is very minor, or for example the description varies only slightly to what you receive expected you cannot simply reject the goods. However, if this is the case when you are buying something for business use then you can still claim compensation.
The basic rule as to whether or not you are entitled to a refund for goods depends on whether or not you have ‘accepted’ the goods. So at what point does this happen? This isn’t necessarily at the point of sale. It will depend on how you purchased the goods, whether over the Internet, in a catalogue, in a shop, at an auction or other method.
How Do I Accept Goods?If you initially complained but then use the goods this could be ‘accepting’ them, and you could also accept them if you keep the goods for a certain length of time, or alter them in some way.
Signing for a delivery doesn’t mean that you’ve accepted the goods, because you need to have had enough time to examine them so that you’re satisfied. If you reject the goods and don’t accept them, you are entitled to a refund. If the goods have actually caused harm or damage, you might be entitled to claim compensation for loss that was caused by the goods, including for example the cost of replacing the faulty goods, or if the goods caused an injury.
Repairs, Replacements And RefundsWhat if you buy something that only breaks after you’ve used it for a while? If it’s less than six months since the purchase, take it back or make the seller aware of the problem. The seller should offer a refund or a replacement unless they can prove that there wasn’t a defect at the time you bought it. It also depends on the reason why you want a refund. If you go back to a shop and say that you’ve changed your mind about something you bought from them and that you no longer want it, the shop doesn’t have to do anything.
Often shops will have something like “refund offered within 30 days of your purchase.” If you go back to the shop after their 30 day policy had expired, you wouldn’t automatically be entitled to a refund. Shops and businesses normally want satisfied customers, but they also want to maintain their profits.
European Law also offers some remedies for defective goods. If consumers enter into contracts for the sale or supply of goods and discover a defect within six months, the assumption is that the fault was there at the time of purchase unless the trader proves otherwise.
If more than six months have passed, the consumer has to prove the defect was there when they bought it. The remedies offered under these circumstances are a repair or replacement, a reduction in price which takes the defect into account, or the return of the goods in exchange for a part or full refund (and compensation if applicable.)
A repair or a replacement has to be effected with minimum inconvenience to the consumer, so the trader should pay all associated costs such as post, labour etc. Also, a repair or replacement has to be proportionate. For example, if a repair is going to cost more than a replacement, the trader is doing nothing wrong by offering a replacement. You can only ask for a refund or part refund where the cost of repair or replacement is disproportionate or where repair/replacement is not provided within a reasonable time.
Whether or not you are entitled to a refund depends on numerous factors. However, if you are dissatisfied there is nothing to be lost by making your feelings known. Be firm in your insistence that you are unhappy, and give reasons. Remember that you’re not automatically entitled to a refund because you have changed your mind about a purchase.