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Faulty electrical item? Know your rights

Faulty electrical item? Know your rights

Category: Utilities
Author: Lieke Braadbaart
Updated: 26/03/2018

With all the big tickets items that have been bought on Black Friday and beyond, including TVs, mobile phones and washing machines, it's important to remember your rights as a consumer, so that if you find yourself stuck with a broken device, you know you can return it.

This may seem like common sense, but research by Citizens Advice has shown that two-thirds (66%) of shoppers have had a problem with a faulty electrical item in the last two years, with one in four being initially turned away by the retailer when they sought to get it repaired, replaced or refunded.

What's worse, only 53% of those surveyed even asked the retailer to provide a refund, replacement or repair, showing that people may not be holding the companies they buy from accountable enough. Indeed, of those who kept going after they were initially turned down, 61% managed to secure some form of redress – persistence clearly pays off.

One of the issues may be that consumers are not sure where to turn, with 28% saying that the retailer directed them to the manufacturer or simply refused to help, when it is actually their responsibility to do so, not the manufacturer's. Luckily, today marks the start of National Consumer week. Citizens Advice, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are campaigning to help you understand that being turned away by your retailer is not something you should just accept, and that consumers have rights they may not be using enough.

And it may not be just the consumer who's confused, with retailers possibly sending people to the manufacturer as they don't know who's meant to be responsible either. Of course, that's little comfort to the person who's being sent back and forth between retailer and manufacturer to try and get some redress, but at least that means that campaigns aimed to educate consumers and retailers are worthwhile and very welcome.

"People shouldn't be left out of pocket because an item they've bought is faulty," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. "It's important to understand your rights so you know when a retailer has to offer you a solution. While some shoppers faced resistance at first, the majority did get the repair, refund or replacement they were entitled to - so don't be afraid to stand your ground. Retailers must also recognise their responsibilities to shoppers so they know when to help people, instead of turning them away."

What are your rights?

If you've got a faulty electrical item, and you're not sure what to do about it, you can contact Citizens Advice to find out what you're entitled to. They even have a faulty goods tool on their website to help you figure out what to do.

Before anything else, though, it's important that you don't try to fix an item yourself, as that could void the warranty. Instead, return it to the retailer. If you bought the item within the last 30 days, in a Black Friday sales event for instance, you are entitled to a refund. If you bought it longer ago, but still within the last six months, you are entitled to have it repaired or replaced once, and if that doesn't solve your problem you should still be able to get a refund. After six months you may still get a repair or replacement, but you'd only be able to get a partial refund at most, as you would have gotten some use out of the item before it failed.

If your device is not just broken, but unsafe, make sure to register it so that you're told if the manufacturer recalls the product. And of course make sure to stop using it and unplug it, and follow the manufacturer's guidance so you don't put yourself in danger.

If you're worried about your right to return goods from an online retailer, you could consider using a credit card to make the purchase, as these come with purchase protection so that, even if the retailer refuses a refund on a faulty item, you could still get one from the credit card provider. And even if the item isn't faulty, with a Best Buy 0% purchase credit card you could have more than two years to pay off the purchase without worrying about interest, keeping your finances sorted from every angle.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.