PC World - 28 day return policy needs looking at.

  PA28 23:09 16 Dec 2005

Another cautionary tale about PC World. How their 28 day return policy conflicts with your statutory rights if something goes wrong.

Item purchased in October 2005. Totally fails two months later. Contact PCW helpline and am advised that I should contact manufacturer of item for a repair. I remind them that it is their responsibility under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended and I would like a replacement please. No can do beyond 28 days after purchase. Advises when pressured that the local PCW will accept item for repair - not replacement - but it is quicker to contact manufacturer. Not a pleasant conversation as company policy is pushed down my throat a dozen times, despite it being contrary to statutory rights.

Try to contact manufacturer. No reply to emails. Two calls of 30 minutes each (20 minutes waiting in queue). Eventually get hold of someone that knows the product and talks me through a self test routine. Confirms fault with product and advises that an engineer will call me back with a return number so that I can send the item in for repair. Turanround time estimated at 10 days - plus Christmas. Not at all good.

Now - have a look at the finer points of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended. Specifically this extract from the BBC Watchdog site which interprets the matter nicely:

"Where a consumer buys durable goods which prove faulty within 6 months, there is a general presumption that they were faulty at the time of purchase. Where defective goods are sold in the course of a business, the seller is liable for breach of contract (s14 Sale of Goods Act).

If the goods cannot be repaired, or otherwise cannot be repaired without significant inconvenience a consumer is entitled to replacement goods (if available). The final remedies available to a consumer are an appropriate price reduction or refund (taking into account wear and tear)."

It's the bit about "significant inconvenience" that comes in here. I had already suffered this in attempting to contact the manufacturer, and it was clear that to send the item for repair would result in more.

I spoke to Trading Standards and confirmed that my interpretation of the SoG Act was correct in these circumstances. They confirmed that it was. I asked them what would be my recourse if PC World continued to adhere to its' 28 Policy - their response was that they had received a number of compliants about PCW and I should push them. Track record was that they would eventually give. If not - Small Claims Court.

I therefore contacted PC World helpline(!) again.

Again I had their 28 day return policy reiterated (where do they get this from - they try to write the law themselves it appears). I insisted on a product replacement instore. Not possible. Pushed further and was advised that the Policy of PC World would not be altered - but if I went into the store they might be more sympathetic and exchange the item as a matter of goodwill. As the local store to me (Bexhill) is a 20 mile round trip I wanted something a little more certain than this arrangement!

Eventually the lady on the helpline was able to contact the store (she had trouble) and they agreed that if I returned the product complete in packaging they would exchange it. The names of the Duty Managers were given to me. Hooray!

Went to store and located the Duty Manager. Didn't know of issue. Explained. Would not exchange unit as it was more than 28 days after purchase. Had to go down the SoG Act route yet again and that PC Worlds policy DID conflict with statutory law. Eventually - and very begrudgingly - the item was taken, tested, and replaced. No apology, no friendliness, but replaced. Contrary to company policy.

So it took a long time to get PC World to agree to meet my legal rights. And they were unpleasant about it all the way as their policy did not enable ground level staff to comply with the law. They could have been pleasant and retained a satisfied customer, arriving at the right outcome a lot sooner. But PC World aren't like that. they like things their way.

This 28 day policy needs looking at. Particularly when it is illegal. And if PC World are reading this they should feel ashamed. Very ashamed.

  Grima_Wormtongue 23:38 16 Dec 2005

I am sorry to hear that you had this problem with PCW. I too had issues with them, once I had brought an Advent PC from them, but these were resolved once I got annoyed with the sales staff trying to fob me off and asked to speak to a Manager or go to Trading Standards.

You will probably not be surprised to know that the consumer magazine Which? rated them as one of the worst for customer service. It may be worth dropping them an email detailing what you have told us, as I believe you at least should have a written apology from the regional Manager of PCW at the very least.

Thankyou for letting us know about this, I am sure there are some people, who are not that well versed with the Sale of Goods Act, and good easily be bullied into walking away from this situation; so I applaud you for seeing it through.

All the best and I hope you don't have any more issues with your machine.

  spuds 10:16 17 Dec 2005

Personally in a situation like this, I would write to PC Worlds head office at DSG Retail Ltd, Maylands Avenue,Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 7TG. Ask them how their 28 day company policy rule complies with relevant Consumer Law.Mention all the facts that you have given here, and see what is their reply. When you have the reply, you can take it further with trading standards,if you wish to do so, as it is the TS's statuary obligation to take this matter further for you.

This problem is nothing new to PCW or trading standards, and PCW have made gestures in the past about resolving issues like this.

Going on the point of PCW store management, I generally find that some managers are more customer friendly when other managers are not.In my location, there are two PCW stores, and management and staff turnover seems very high. Taking item's back to either store can be an experience in itself. Good manager,no problem. Bad manager, let the battle begin.The general feeling in the store, tends to reflect on the management style.

  g0nvs 14:24 17 Dec 2005

Sounds to me just like the same company policy as Comet try to get away with.
Until such times that these companies respond correctly to consumer law then spend your money elsewhere, I do.

  oresome 17:23 17 Dec 2005

"This 28 day policy needs looking at. Particularly when it is illegal."

I doubt very much that this policy is illegal.

I suspect that PC World will argue that the 28 day no quibble returns policy is an addittion to your statutory rights and in no way attempts to diminish them.

Your argument hinges on the interpretation of significant inconvenience. A 10 day turnround
for repair may be considered reasonable by a court.

  PA28 17:25 17 Dec 2005

I will copy this to PCW at Hemel Hempstead and will also post any reply that they give here. I will also copy to Which - thanks for the suggestion as I was not aware (but am not surprised) that PCW gained this accolade from them. Promises promises - we're with you all the way. Ha!

For information the item in question was not directly concerned with my computer. It was a Navman In Car Navigation system. The fault? It became unable to identify satellites, which is a touch fundamental to being able to do its' job.

  PA28 22:35 17 Dec 2005

As a aside, I have also had a problem with an Acer 19" monitor purchased 10 months ago from Amazon.co.uk. The monitor is now virtually unusable having lost its focus. It has been tested on three different computers and the result is the same. I contacted Acer for support by email and this has been very slow - you wait for weeks for an answer.

In desperation I contacted Amazon this evening hoping that they could put pressure on Acer to retrieve and repair my monitor. I received a reply in less than an hour with Amazon offering to replace or refund my monitor by return. What a contrast to the service offered by PC World. Guess where I'll be doing my shopping in the future. Thanks Amazon - Amazing!

  ade.h 23:09 17 Dec 2005

It has been pointed out that this "policy" is likely to be legal and in addition to one's statutory rights.

True, per se. If PCW was in fact working within the requirements of the law as distinct from its own policy, but it would appear that it is not. PA28's description of his/her experience would strongly suggest that PCW is trying to ride roughshod over the consumer's rights. Perhaps this is due to a lack of knowledge o the part of call centre staff and store management; however, if that is the case, it is no excuse whatsoever for this behaviour.

If it were, I doubt that Trading Standards and Which would have had any bone of contention with PCW, and these two champions of our rights certainly have had issues with this company's practices.

Well done, PA28, for knowing your rights and pushing to have them upheld.

  PA28 11:30 18 Dec 2005

oresome - the 10 day turnaround is only part of the story remember. I have already spent over an hour on the phone at long distance rates to try to get a response from Navman - without too much success. The 10 day turnaround is only after the item has been received back. And that would have left me without the SatNav over the Christmas period when it is very likely to be of use (I can figure out how to get to my local Sainsburys without too much of a problem - it is when you are travelling a couple of hundred miles that it comes in useful). Where would you draw the line of inconvenience - and why should PCW be able to hide behind its' onw policies. Remember I did not rush in before quoting the letter of the law - I sought advice from Trading Standards to make sure the ground was firm first: they agreed with my case.

  sidmo 12:04 18 Dec 2005

for the benefit of anyone else who is having problems with PCWorld and is thinking of contacting their head office -- it had all its windows blown out last Sunday by the fire in Hemel Hempstead and this is having a knock on effect with customer services.

  Stuartli 12:18 18 Dec 2005

One more to watch out for with PC World.

Today it is advertising several printers in the national press at reduced prices.

I've only checked out one of its offers - £20 off a Canon iP4200 - bringing the price down to £99.99.

Sounds a good buy until a little ferreting is done. My first point of contact was Amazon's website, where the iP4200 is offered at £75.02 plus £5.89 delivery cost, whilst e-Buyer is £77.71 plus delivery.

There are other sources at very slightly higher prices.

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