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Unfit goods already replaced and the SoGA/CCA?


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Hi everyone,

 

I purchased an external hard drive with a 5-year manufacturer's warranty from an online supplier on 6th January, at a cost of around £150, which I paid for with a credit card, which continually overheated and failed after about an hours usage but would work again after being unplugged and allowed to cool. I contacted the supplier when it broke down entirely in March and was told that all they could do was arrange a replacement with the manufacturer under the warranty. I filled in an online returns request on their website and they arranged its replacement with a reconditioned unit to be sent directly to my address (but in their name) once I had sent the original back to the manufacturer. This cost me £8.25 in postage. This was before I was aware of my statutory rights.

 

The 5-year warranty on the replacement appears to have been limited to November 2013, probably because the replacement was ordered by the retailer, who must have received the original in November 2008 before selling it to me in January. The replacement has suffered from exactly the same problems as the original and broke down entirely on the 8th June.

 

I have emailed the retailer today, pointing out that I cannot be expected to send this item for replacement every 2 months (at a cost of around £250 in postage over the duration of the warranty). I also stated that the item is clearly unfit for purpose, due to the overheating and device failure of both units and not of sufficient durability due to both units breaking down entirely within 3 months, as defined in Section 14 of the SoGA 1979 and that I should be entitled to a full refund.

 

Since the problem is due to a fundamental flaw in design (lack of heat dissipation) and it is the product which is unfit for purpose rather than merely the individual units, a repair or another replacement will be of little use to me. I have offered to accept an equivalent alternative product (and to pay the price difference on the one I have suggested) or credit equal to what I originally paid instead of a refund and am awaiting their reply. If they reject these solutions I may even be prepared to make a further offer of accepting an alternative product of lower capacity which is equivalent in price to the price the original product is selling for at the moment.

 

I hope I am right in assuming that my rights under the SoGA 1979 are not diminished because of the replacement, since this was arranged by the retailer, as evidenced by the aforementioned problem with the warranty period. I would appreciate some advice on how I would best proceed if they are only prepared to arrange another replacement at my expense.

 

As it is still under 6 months since I bought the original unit, am I within my rights to reject the replacement unit and demand a full refund (including the £8.25 postage I should not have had to pay for the replacement?

 

Might I be better off trying to claim the money back from my credit card company under Section 75 of the CCA 1974, since the item cost over £100 and is this likely to be affected by the replacement of the item or the time elapsed since the purchase?

 

If I make a claim against the retailer using MCOL or attempt to reclaim the money from my credit card company, do I need to have sent the item back to the retailer first?

 

I would be very grateful to hear any advice on this matter as I will need to send a formal letter to the retailer ASAP, since it will be 6 months after the initial purchase on 6th July and I will need to allow time for them to reply etc. Thanks in advance...

 

nps

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The 6 months doesn't matter - what does is that a replacement has failed with the same fault so you're entitled to at least a partial refund. They really need to repair or replace before a refund is operable anyway, so by accepting the replacement (provided this was through them) you have lost no soga rights.

 

I'd ask them for a refund, under the law (because this is independent from any warranty entitlement) and see what they say. You seem to be largely aware of what your rights are.

 

Wouldn't touch the CCA until you've exhausted all possibilities with the retailer.

The above post constitutes my personal opinion on the facts in the post compared with my personal knowledge of the applicable legislation. I make no guarantees of its legal accuracy. If you are in doubt seek advice of a legal professional specialising in the area concerned.

 

If my post has helped you please click my scales!

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  • 2 years later...

I know it's been a long time but just wanted to add how it ended and the details of the company (which I originally omitted) for anyone else having problems with them. I forgot to do this at the time (haven't been back here in a while).

 

It was LambdaTek and the drive was a Seagate Freeagent Xtreme [sT315005FPD2E3-RK]. After explaining the situation (and the law) to them, as outlined above, I received the standard 'return for replacement' email from Seagate (forwarded to me by LambdaTek). When I reiterated my intention to obtain a refund, not a replacement, pointed out that my address had changed (which would prevent them forcing a replacement on me against my wishes) and asked them to take into account the £16.50 I'd had to pay in postage for the returns, in my refund, I got the following reply:

 

Dear Mr _____

 

Please return the drive with all the accessories that originally came with it. Please note that both returns were logged outside the dead on arrival period which is 28 days from receipt and therefore we may not be able to refund the postage.

 

However on this occasion and to avoid you any further troubles with the product we have requested Seagate to direct the replacement unit to our office instead so we can refund you for the order.

 

I hope this would be a satisfactory resolution for this matter

 

 

Best Regards

 

Soultan

The LambdaTek Customer Services

Office phone : 01865 791055 / Fax : 01865 791057

 

Not only did they refuse to repay the £16.50 postage I paid to return both drives to Seagate on their behalf; they also failed to refund the postage of £8.62 I paid for the shipping of the original item; and withheld the 'refund' until they received the replacement drive from Seagate, despite confirmation by Seagate of receipt of the faulty drive from me and subsequent notification of the shipping of their replacement. The promised 'refund' never actually happened either - they gave me a credit note for the price of the drive only (£158.31).

 

Despite the obvious legal issues with their behaviour and the principle of the thing, because I needed a replacement drive in a hurry (and needed to use those funds for the purchase), I swallowed the loss of the £25.12 and ordered an alternative drive from them for £157.01, although having to pay the excess of £7.32 towards the £8.62 postage added insult to injury. On the upside: the Buffalo Linkstation Live I got as a replacement is excellent and still going strong 3 years later. I have since bought several more of them from other retailers but have never dealt with LambdaTek again (and never will).

 

It is some comfort to me that LambdaTek have since gone from being among the cheapest sources of components on the internet to almost total obscurity (they rarely even show up in price comparisons these days and are always outpriced): I like to think that this must be due to a massive drop in volume because of their appalling attitude and business practices, resulting in many other buyers voting with their feet.

 

Anyway, for those with similar problems: what this episode taught me is that I would have been much better off going down the CCA route with the card provider - they would have had to refund the whole sum I originally paid (£158.31 + £8.62 postage); this would have been restored to the card account immediately; and LambdaTek would have been responsible for recovering the drive from me at their own expense. I would have saved an additional £16.87, been saved the long delay and been free to order my replacement from wherever I chose (probably saving an additional £8.25 by getting free postage elsewhere). The card provider would have been likely to take a more robust approach with LambdaTek in ensuring they recovered the original payment in full (which I assume is why LambdaTek offer bonus credit towards future purchases for paying with a debit card instead of a credit card). The fact that LambdaTek offer incentives to those willing to forfeit their chargeback rights should ring alarm bells....

 

My advice: pay with a credit card whenever you can and make full use of those chargeback rights whenever appropriate (especially with those idiot retailers who will try to claim the SoGA is only good for 28 days - there are lots of them out there, some big ones among them). It's what I've done ever since then. Oh - and avoid Seagate external hard drives like the plague...

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I know it's been a long time but just wanted to add how it ended and the details of the company (which I originally omitted) for anyone else having problems with them. I forgot to do this at the time (haven't been back here in a while).

 

It was LambdaTek and the drive was a Seagate Freeagent Xtreme [sT315005FPD2E3-RK]. After explaining the situation (and the law) to them, as outlined above, I received the standard 'return for replacement' email from Seagate (forwarded to me by LambdaTek). When I reiterated my intention to obtain a refund, not a replacement, pointed out that my address had changed (which would prevent them forcing a replacement on me against my wishes) and asked them to take into account the £16.50 I'd had to pay in postage for the returns, in my refund, I got the following reply:

 

 

 

Not only did they refuse to repay the £16.50 postage I paid to return both drives to Seagate on their behalf; they also failed to refund the postage of £8.62 I paid for the shipping of the original item; and withheld the 'refund' until they received the replacement drive from Seagate, despite confirmation by Seagate of receipt of the faulty drive from me and subsequent notification of the shipping of their replacement. The promised 'refund' never actually happened either - they gave me a credit note for the price of the drive only (£158.31).

 

Despite the obvious legal issues with their behaviour and the principle of the thing, because I needed a replacement drive in a hurry (and needed to use those funds for the purchase), I swallowed the loss of the £25.12 and ordered an alternative drive from them for £157.01, although having to pay the excess of £7.32 towards the £8.62 postage added insult to injury. On the upside: the Buffalo Linkstation Live I got as a replacement is excellent and still going strong 3 years later. I have since bought several more of them from other retailers but have never dealt with LambdaTek again (and never will).

 

It is some comfort to me that LambdaTek have since gone from being among the cheapest sources of components on the internet to almost total obscurity (they rarely even show up in price comparisons these days and are always outpriced): I like to think that this must be due to a massive drop in volume because of their appalling attitude and business practices, resulting in many other buyers voting with their feet.

 

Anyway, for those with similar problems: what this episode taught me is that I would have been much better off going down the CCA route with the card provider - they would have had to refund the whole sum I originally paid (£158.31 + £8.62 postage); this would have been restored to the card account immediately; and LambdaTek would have been responsible for recovering the drive from me at their own expense. I would have saved an additional £16.87, been saved the long delay and been free to order my replacement from wherever I chose (probably saving an additional £8.25 by getting free postage elsewhere). The card provider would have been likely to take a more robust approach with LambdaTek in ensuring they recovered the original payment in full (which I assume is why LambdaTek offer bonus credit towards future purchases for paying with a debit card instead of a credit card). The fact that LambdaTek offer incentives to those willing to forfeit their chargeback rights should ring alarm bells....

 

My advice: pay with a credit card whenever you can and make full use of those chargeback rights whenever appropriate (especially with those idiot retailers who will try to claim the SoGA is only good for 28 days - there are lots of them out there, some big ones among them). It's what I've done ever since then. Oh - and avoid Seagate external hard drives like the plague...

 

Why did you settle for a credit note? You are (i believe, and will be corrected if I am wrong) entitled to refund of the same as you paid (i.e. actual currency, not a credit note).

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