The things you overhear when shopping.

I love listening in to conversations in shops when other customers are complaining. Some of the statements I hear shop staff coming out with are so ridiculous that it takes me all my time to hold back and not get involved.

Most of us think that the staff behave like this because they have instructions from their managers not to accept returns, or because it’s be a ploy to fob off customers so that they are forced to go away and take their problem elsewhere.

But in many cases I think it is actually down to lack of training.I genuinely think that most shop staff don’t know what the customer’s rights are, and so they argue with them as a sort of defence mechanism.

‘You are only covered for the first year’ is one such statement that fits in the ranks of the ‘patently untrue but saves me dealing with this person any longer.’ It usually comes before ‘We can’t help you now because of the length of time you have had it, you’ll need to send it back to the manufacturer’. Again, simply not true.

Most goods that you buy will be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts for the first twelve months from the date of purchase. This manufacturer’s warranty is issued in addition to the protection you enjoy under the Consumer Rights Act.

This protection allows you to bring an action against the retailer that sold you the faulty goods for up to five years (six in England) from the date of purchase. So if anything happens within the first twelve months you have a choice. You could choose to ask the retailer to deal with the problem or you could go directly to the manufacturer to deal with it. In fact if the goods cost more than one hundred pounds and less than thirty thousand pounds and you paid with your credit card then you may actually have a third option since you could take action against the credit card company instead using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Having said all of that, you shouldn’t expect a full refund if your kettle breaks down after five and a half years, but instead any claim after a prolonged period of usage and time would need to take into account the expected normal working life of the goods concerned.

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