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Negotiating A Refund: A Case Study

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 12 Dec 2010 |
Negotiating A Refund: A Case Study

Sarah bought a designer dress in the sales for £180. It was a fitted stretch dress with sequins and intricate stitching on it. She was delighted with the ‘find’ –as there were no others like it in the shop and she was convinced she had found a real bargain. As the shop was very crowded, she did not try it on in the changing room and instead waited until she got home.

Once home, she noticed that there was some makeup staining near the collar and was annoyed that she hadn’t noticed it in the shop. However, the dress fitted well and it had been half price, so she decided to try to sponge off the makeup and wore it to a party that evening.

What Went Wrong

When she got home after the party, she noticed that a lot of the sequins had fallen off and that the stitching had come undone in some places. Sarah was very disappointed, especially since it was going to be virtually impossible to find replacement sequins.

The following day, Sarah put the dress back in the bag, making sure she had her receipt and went back to the shop where she bought the item. At the counter she pulled the dress out of the bag and presented the lady at the till with a receipt. Sarah said that she wasn’t happy with it, showed her where the sequins had fallen off and where the stitching was coming apart.

The Retailer’s Response

The retailer said that items were non-refundable because there was a sale on and that in any event she should have taken better care of the item. She showed Sarah the label on the inside of the dress that said that extra care was needed because of the sequins.

However, Sarah explained that she had only worn the item for a matter of hours. When the shop owner pointed out the makeup on the collar and suggested that she may have been too large for the dress, Sarah nearly lost her temper. Instead, she explained that the dress was not too tight, and that she hadn’t noticed the makeup on the dress until she got it home.

How She Got A Refund

Here’s how Sarah told the retailer that she was entitled to a refund:

Retailer: “I’m sorry but there’s not really anything I can do.”

Sarah: “Legally I’m entitled to my money back. I know my rights, and I’d like a refund please.”

Retailer: “I can’t do that. As a goodwill gesture I could offer you half price on your next purchase. That’s fair isn’t it?”

Sarah: “No, I must insist I get a refund. I don’t want a discount or a credit note. I am entitled to a reasonable period of time in which to accept or reject the goods, and given that I bought this dress less than two days ago, I don’t think you can tell me that I have already accepted the dress’s condition. Under the Sale of Goods Act the goods you sell me must be of satisfactory quality. This is the case whether the goods are new, in the sale or second hand. Clearly, this dress is not satisfactory.”

Retailer: “I’m not happy about this. I’ll take it up with the manufacturer.”

Sarah: “Whether you take it up with the manufacturer or not is entirely up to you. But that doesn’t have any bearing on the contract between us.”

The retailer eventually agreed that Sarah should be entitled to her money back. Sarah handed over the card and got a full refund.

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