The Sale of Goods Act 1976 is a powerful piece of legislation for consumers. Do You Make Any of These 4 Mistakes When You Purchase a Faulty Item?
So, you’ve bought an item, let’s call it a washing machine. Last year you bought a warranty for a dishwasher and haven’t used the warranty. Mistake no. 1. If the item had gone wrong in that time you would have been covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979. You didn’t buy a warranty because you were sensible this time. Yes, sensible, you are covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979. Now, you may remember the classic “Merchantable quality”. Don’t use that term because the Act was updated in 1994. It is now “Satisfactory quality”.
So, this washing machine, after a few months, it stops spinning. You telephone the manufacturer who tells you that they will come out and repair it. Great. No! Mistake no. 3.
The BIG mistake that you have made here is a common one. It is NOT down to the manufacturer. That retailer where you bought the item? That is where you complain. So off you go and now one of its staff tells you that you should get in touch with the manufacturer. So this time you say “Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 my contract is with you the seller, YOU are responsible”. Ok, so now the sales assistant tells you that she will contact the manufacturer for you and get a repair sorted. Great. No, no, no, no, no! Mistake no. 4.
Generally speaking the Sale of Goods Act says that items should last a reasonable length of time. This of course is quite loose. So, think to yourself if you think your washing machine should have lasted longer than a few months before going wrong. Well I think it should!
Ok, so you look back at the receipt and see that actually the washing machine is 7 months old. Ok, so this is perhaps when it could get a little more tricky. You go to the store and they smugly tell you that you should have bought the warranty. Hmph. No, it is still expected that an item should last a “reasonable length of time”. 7 months in my book is not a reasonable length of time. So you could go for a free repair. Personally, I would fight for a refund. If I didn’t get it, I would take them to the Small Claims Court. As part of this process I would also gain an independent report from a technician to state what the problem was. I would have to pay for this but would claim it back from the company in Court if deemed that the problem was caused by something that should not reasonably have happened. Also, don’t forget, that if the washing machine ruined some of your items when it broke you can claim for them too. Usually though, when you start to assert your legal rights the company will back down to your way of thinking! For example, I recently had an oven that was 10 months old and I got it replaced when a fault appeared which could have been repaired. I had previous complaint dealings with them though so that helped!
Generally speaking, an item if faulty at time of purchase should be returned within 3 – 4 weeks. Retailers will often have a 28 days policy. Sometimes this is extended during the Christmas and all this just makes it easier to return. However, earlier this year someone asked my advice about a faulty television they hadn’t opened for genuine reasons, for two months and had been told that she could only have a repair or exchange. I got involved. She got her money back! I am not a lawyer, one just needs to know their legal rights and more often than not, be assertive.
So what are the key things you need to know when it comes to the sale of Goods Act 1979? Items must be:
- as described
- of satisfactory quality and
- fit for purpose
If not, the retailer is in breach of the sale of Goods Act and for that you gain redress. You do need a proof of purchase but this does not have to be a receipt. A credit card statement will show it too.