consumer rights

  carver 19:50 23 Jun 2003

Yes another thread on the customers rights but this is about a recent court ruling. Basically if you buy a product it has to be fit for the intended use and if it was faulty you can return it, BUT, there was a grey area about how long it was before you were deemed to have accepted the item, this is how certain retailers got out of refunding your money because it was 4months / 6 months/ 7 months since the purchase. But in MARCH this year the Appeal Court ruled in Clegg v Olle Anderson that 'a reasonable time' must include time taken by buyers 'seeking additional information from the seller to make a properly informed choice'.What this means is that if your PC/toaster/waffle maker, keeps breaking down the seller can no longer say that you have accepted the product because you have agreed to a repair. What you can now say is that all the time the store / computer shop or whoever was repairing ,replacing parts free of charge you still had not made up you mind to accept the product.

  carver 22:16 23 Jun 2003

This is why this ruling is so important, it now is no longer possible for a company to have such a term in it's contract. Even if it does it will be deemed to be a restrictive and unfair term that cannot be upheld in law.

  Forum Editor 01:39 24 Jun 2003

the case quoted involved the purchase of a yacht for almost a quarter of a million pounds, and was a considerably complex issue involving lead ballast.

The appeal was allowed, and the statement about the right to reject was made by one of the appeal judges. The pertinent part of her statement was:

"......if a buyer is seeking information which the seller has agreed to supply which will enable the buyer to make a properly informed choice between acceptance, rejection or cure, and if cure in what way, he cannot have lost his right to reject."

It should be borne in mind that although this creates precedence it doesn't mean that it has passed into law - only a parliamentary amendment to the act can have that effect - but it does indicate the way that judges are tending to think.

  Forum Editor 23:21 24 Jun 2003

certainly is not irrelevant - consumer law does not treat all purchases as being equal, and rightly so. Try rejecting a newspaper as being 'not fit for its purpose' two weeks after you bought it and see how far you get.

To say that a jumbo jet is the same as a hot dog when it comes to consumer legislation is just plain silly, and I suggest a little more study of the law.

  carver 21:13 25 Jun 2003

You mentioned a newspaper in your reply but what if you bought a copy of PCA and two weeks after you bought it all the ink faded so it was unreadable, would you accept that two weeks was a reasonable time to keep a magazine or would you complain and demand a new copy. Or would you allow someone to rewrite the wording in it by hand and give it you back in a months time. One reason I started this posting is that consumer laws and the interpretation of them change all the time and now it is no longer reasonable for a company to say you have accepted this item because you agreed to a repair. Nearly every day someone puts a posting up about bad customer service from some company or other and some of these are from people who have just bought their first computer and when it breaks down they are treated badly. 10 years ago there where certain car company's that stated they did not see any need to give a 3 year warranty with their cars, but consumer pressure finally changed things and now nearly every one does, maybe with enough pressure P/C manufactures, shops, can be made to change their attitude to customers about after sales service.

  Forum Editor 23:48 25 Jun 2003

was made perfectly clear in the line "....although this creates precedence it doesn't mean that it has passed into law".

I did it so that other forum users wouldn't be misled into thinking the opposite. Misinformation is something we should try to avoid, so let's stop inferring that consumer laws have changed. No law has changed as a result of this ruling - we'll let you know if/when that happens.

What has happened is that one appeal court judge (Lady Justice Hale) made the comments when explaining why she agreed with an appeal ruling. I wouldn't want to detract from your central point about this being an important comment - it is certainly very interesting, and helps to clarify what was a rather grey area. This may well be cited as precedent in any future (and similar) case, but it certainly may not be taken as a change in the law applying to rejection of goods. The Sale of goods act (as amended) already provides for a consumer to reject goods without necessarily giving a reason, and what Lady Justice Hale said was that in her opinion if a a consumer was seeking information from a seller that was necessary to make an informed decision about whether or not to reject, it could not be said that he/she had lost the right to reject.

The existing law already acknowledges that 'informal arrangements' between buyer and seller (as to whether or not to attempt a repair) were something to be encouraged, and should not jeopardise the buyer's right to reject.

Incidentally, Lady Justice Hale also confirmed what I said above about the cost of the goods being very relevant. She said that the more expensive an item is, the more a consumer is entitled to expect it to be defect free. Jumbo jets and jumbo hot-dogs are indeed very different in the eyes of the law - it's common sense really isn't it?

  Forum Editor 00:42 26 Jun 2003

It wasn't my intention to trivialise what carver had reported - appeal court judgements are certainly very important, and as has been pointed out, consumer pressure can achieve a lot.

This isn't consumer pressure however, but a senior judge giving a learned opinion in an attempt to clarify a legal point. The appeal court has always fulfilled this role - making complex and sometimes obscure legal issues that much clearer for future lawyers - and for us.

We'll need to wait to see what effect Lady Justice Hales' words have.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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