New Consumer Rights From 31st March

  bfoc 14:32 03 Mar 2003

From 31st March 2003 new regulations come into force.

The main change is that:
'If goods develop a fault within the first six months and the retailer wishes to dispute the claim, the retailer will be required to prove that the fault was not present when the goods were sold.'

This moves the onus from the consumer to the retailer!

More deatils on the OFT website click here

  oresome 16:46 03 Mar 2003

Can't say I'm any clearer from reading bfoc's message and the OFT link.

I thought that you were covered for defects that arose during use, not just those that could be proved to exist at time of purchase.

It would seem that the onus is on the purchaser to prove after 6 months that the fault existed at the time of purchase.

Surely if this were the case, you would have returned the item straight away?

I am aware that some manufacturing defects will only show up some time after purchase, but without inside knowledge of the failure rate of a product, how is one to know whether your failure is a one off unfortunate incident, or part of a wider failure rate clearly attributable to a manufacturing fault?

I suppose someone will tell me to read forums like this one!

I've no doubt we've all been there where the retailer expresses surprise at the failure and states he's never heard of one going faulty before.

You do sometimes get the other side of the coin, where the products taken off you with a shake of the head and a sigh and tossed into a corner along with a mountain of others waiting to be returned to the manufacturer, but not often.

  bfoc 17:12 03 Mar 2003

But it is important.

If an item becomes faulty within the first 6 months it is ASSUMED that the fault was there from the start.

Until now it was the Consumer who had to prove that the fault had been there when the item was bought and some retailers would hide behind that.

So if your new computer/printer/scanner etc, shows a fault after 5 months the retailer would have to prove that it was not there at the time of sale.

Remember this is a minimum right.

  wee eddie 20:04 03 Mar 2003


It definately clarifies the situatio, but I think you will find that the water is still very muddy.

The definition of "prove" being a sticking point.

  Stuartli 20:25 03 Mar 2003

Bet you are all glad that you don't run a shop...:-)

  bfoc 22:03 03 Mar 2003

Will have to be supplied by the retailer as opposed to the consumer. At least in the first six months!

I suppose it could be summarised as the 'burden of proof' shifting from the consumer to the retailer.

Quite how the retailer can prove that an item was fine when it was sold 5 months ago is an interesting one.

  Stuartli 23:28 03 Mar 2003

As I said, I bet people are glad they don't run a retail outlet....

  bfoc 23:42 03 Mar 2003

Can always claim back from manufacturers, if they still exist of course.

I would guess that the one group this might have most impact on is the 'surplus stores', who buy up end of range/bankrupt stock. They will truly be the ones where the buck stops, those '30/60 day warranty' limits look difficult for them to hold to.

And I'm not sure what the definition of retailer is with regard to, say, on-line auctions!

  davidg_richmond 23:57 03 Mar 2003

on-line auctions and other such sites are governed by the distance selling act, which actually gives more rights to the consumer than buying from a high-street.

it is yet to be seen how these new rules work in practice as all the various Acts are only enforceable by a court such as small claims courts. retailers may have to be more picky as to what has broken down and what has had excessive use, perhaps in extensively testing goods that are faulty. under current laws if a product was faulty from day one, or was of poor workmanship which contributed to breakdown, we already have six years to make a claim. this will effectively allow consumers to argue for a replacement product rather than repair for the first six months of use.

on the point of manufacturers, at present a manufacturer will generally take back goods from a retailer within a small time period, around 28-30 days unless they do the repairs for a retailer, so this will probably be extended to the six month mark.

i cannot see the process for faulty goods changing for those that are over 6 months old.

  bfoc 00:11 04 Mar 2003

I cannot see how on-line retailers, even auction sites can still say 30 day warranty. Since under the regulations any failure within 6 months will be assumed to have been there from purchase.

I do think that assumption is important, since proving a fault existed earlier but has only just come to light is quite difficult. Just as, I accept, it would be quite difficult to prove that there was no fault on purchase. Unless of course there is clear evidence of mis-use!

Given the fact that according to the CA, the Govt is 'more than a year late' in bringing in these regulations retailers should be prepared.

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