Black Friday and consumer rights #SolicitorChat with The Law Society.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a great opportunity to bag a bargain. But when it comes to unwanted or faulty purchases, what consumer rights do you have? And with more people sticking to online sales this year, what additional rights protect online purchases? We discussed this and more during #SolicitorChat.

Join The Law Society and other firms discussing a different topic each week on Thursday mornings at 0900-1000.

What can someone do if they find an item they purchased during the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales is faulty or not as described?

Under the Consumer Rights Act, they can claim a refund or a replacement if goods are not of ‘satisfactory quality‘, ‘as described’ or ‘fit for purpose’.  If there is a minor defect this must fall below what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory.

If they return the goods within 30 days they will receive a full refund and the retailer should cover the costs of return.  After 30 days and up to six months the retailer may attempt one repair or replacement, but after that if goods are still faulty, it must make a refund.  After 6 months, the retailer must only repair or replace the goods.

The retailer’s returns policy may state that customers will only receive a credit note or vouchers, but where an item has been returned because it is faulty this shouldn’t apply.

With more people shopping online during the pandemic, what additional rights protect online purchases?

Good bought online may be returned during a ‘cooling off’ period of up to 14 days after the goods are delivered. The purchaser will have to pay the costs of sending goods back.

This ‘cooling off’ period doesn’t apply to goods which are perishable, personalised, contain seals which are broken (such as computer software) or goods that cannot be returned for hygiene reasons. 

There are also more requirements which apply to online retailers to provide us with information about the trader, the goods, the price and any extra costs prior to your purchase.

What rights does someone have when it comes to digital assets such as game downloads or e-books?

Digital assets must also be of ‘satisfactory quality, ‘as described’ and ‘fit for purpose’.  To download something within 14 days of buying it, the purchaser will need to waive the 14 day cooling off period.

For faulty digital downloads, the retailer has one opportunity to replace the item before a refund can be claimed. The purchaser may choose between a repair or replacement (but the retailer can refuse if they can show that that choice is much more expensive than the alternative).

If the faulty download affects other downloads or devices the purchaser may be entitled to a repair or compensation. 

If there is no problem with the digital content there is no right to return the product as the cooling off period will have been waived. 

If a consumer feels they have been misled about a saving during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, what steps can they take?

Firstly, gather evidence of the misleading information. This could include the product description or photo of the item as shown in store against photos of what was actually received, preferably dated.  The sales receipt should be kept and the relevant information provided to the retailer requesting a refund.

The customer may, depending on the circumstances, be able to argue that there has been a misrepresentation if the offer was inaccurate and they relied on the misinformation in deciding to make their purchase.

Unhappy customers can also complain to trading standards but their role would be to check the actions of the retailer not to get the customer their money back.

What can consumers do to avoid being scammed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Always check the website is secure – its should start with “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar. Be wary of poor language, spelling or grammar mistakes, and retailers that don’t provide an address.

If using an unknown retailer look at the reviews – too many negative reviews and it might be best to avoid that retailer.

If the value of goods is at least £100 and up to £30,000, consumers should use a credit card.  The credit card company is jointly liable with the retailer for faulty goods, or if they fail to turn up.  This protection does not apply to debit cards.

The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP

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