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Citizens Advice/Trading Standards worse than useless

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My son bought a music book as a gift from a Music Store that is a small chain of shops operating in the midlands and north-west.

It was a gift but the recipient unfortunately already had that item. He returned the product within five days unopened with a receipt in the original packaging and asked for a full refund, as the item was clearly re-saleable. To his astonishment and despair, the manager of the shop made him feel like a criminal by suggesting that he could have simply bought the book to photocopy the music and return it. No refund was offered, no exchange, no credit note, nothing. Citizens Advice suggested to him that he should try to sell the book on EBay!! They also stated that the shop had every right not to refund and that they could set whatever terms and conditions they wished. Trading Standards, who are extremely difficult to get hold of nowadays, eventually suggested that the shop was also within its rights and should my son require any direct help, he should contact ...... Citizens Advice Bureau!!

 

Once upon a time, Citizens Advice Bureau were quite useful and of service - they used to employ people who were qualified to offer legal advice. Nowadays, unfortunately, they are mostly run by 11,000 volunteers who do little more than look on-line for advice.

 

But don't be put off. Stand up for your Statutory Rights. Who ever heard of such nonsense coming from a shop? This shop also failed to adequately display its Refund Policy, dubious as it was stating that all refunds/exchanges can only be offered at the manager's discretion if returned within 7 days. Trading Standards interested in visiting this errant shop? Absolutely not. I don't suppose this had anything to do with it being in the Intu Centre and part of a chain? No doubt Trading Standards find it easier to tackle the Corner Shop or independent restaurant etc.

 

Martin's Money Tips helped. My son took this shop to the Small Claims Court and quoted the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (which has recently been superceded by the Consumer Rights Act 2015). The shop has been ordered to refund my son in full and pay his expenses in taking this action. Bailiffs next if they don't pay up. How ridiculous refunding or exchanging an item retailing at only £10.95 has come to this.

 

The local newspaper are aware of this story but have so far not put it in print. No doubt keeping an eye on their reliance for advertising from the Intu Centre. That is the way the world works, isn't it?

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What statutory rights? There is no right to return an unopened product for a refund. The only right to return an item is in the case of it being faulty or not as described. There is no legal right to return an item just because of a change of mind or because the recipient already has it. The only possible way around that would be if the stores own terms and conditions explicitly allowed this in addition to your statutory rights, which from the sounds of it this store did not. Citizens Advice and Trading Standards were correct in the advice they gave you.

 

I'm honestly quite surprised at the success of small claims action here. Sounds like the person running the hearing didn't understand the law themselves.

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I am also astonished at the decision from the County Court.

 

Congratulations on bringing an action to the County Court. Most people don't because they lack the confidence or the anger to do so. So that is definitely one up for you.

 

However, if you had come here first we would have given you the same advice as you received from Citizens Advice which is that you have no statutory rights in this situation.

 

I think that the decision you received from the County Court was exceptional and I have no idea why the judge sided with you. It was most unusual and I would not recommend anyone else to follow your example because I think that the chances of success are minimal.

 

Actually, I feel sorry for the shop because although it seems that they had an unnecessarily aggressive and non-customer-facing attitude, I take the view that they were right in terms of their interpretation of the applicable law.

 

On the other hand, it does seem a bit Basil Fawlty to have approached the matter in the way they did. From that point of view, they deserve their defeat.

 

So far as Citizens Advice go, I think that they were correct in their advice to you on this occasion. However, as a general comment about them – Citizens Advice tend to be far too cautious and seem very often to be concerned with suggesting solutions to problems rather than letting people know their rights. If more people stood up to unjust retailers, there will be less of a problem for consumers generally.

 

Citizens Advice are a victim of government cuts and they have been for a long time. There are extremely under resourced and given the cut in the oh FT, consumer focus and consumer direct, they now have the entire load of consumer problems fall upon their shoulders.

 

So far as Trading Standards go, they seem to have evolved into some quasi secretive organisation which operates out of the public gaze and nobody really knows what goes on with them and nobody is able to contact them – unless you are extremely lucky. They also are a victim of cuts that I have to say that their overall attitude to dealing directly with the public is wrong, in my view, and I think that it would be helpful to them generally if at the very least they would produce clear statements as to what it is they are intended to do and their position. I know that they advise people to contact Citizens Advice directly but given the paucity of consumer help organisations at the moment, I don't think that this inspires much confidence.


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Could the claim have been won by default and not been defended? I find it difficult to believe a chain of stores would go to court without a knowledgeable solicitor and still lose


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IMHO, it was very petty of the store in the first place ? Perhaps if they had offered to refund or exchange, then there would have been a satisfied customer singing their praises rather than a disgruntled one telling people.. "wouldn't shop there" ?


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Perhaps people should be asking about refund policies "JIC" before they purchase an item.


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Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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The law does not require to offer a refund simply because the customer has changed their mind. There is nothing in the Sale of Goods Act or Consumer Rights Act which provides this right. That is also stated in several places on MSE, which I assume is the website you are referring to.

 

Many shops do let you return things if you change your mind, particularly large retailers, but it is not a legal requirement.

 

You would have a legal right to return a product if (1) there is something wrong with it (e.g. it is not satisfactory quality), (2) the shop has advertised a refund policy which allows you to return things, or (3) you purchased the product by distance selling (e.g. online).


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I think what needs to be noted is that this was a "gift". The recipient didn't simply change their mind, they already had the item. There is a lot of trade during the run up to Christmas where people buy gifts for friends and family. If other stores say... M&S, John Lewis, etc remove their practice of refunding on unwanted gifts then they are likely to lose a lot of business or only sell Gift Vouchers !


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Uploading documents to CAG ** Instructions **

 

Looking for a draft letter? Use the CAG Library

Dealing with Customer Service Departments? - read the CAG Guide first

 

1: Making a PPI claim ? - Q & A's and spreadsheets for single premium policy -

HERE

2: Take back control of your finances -

Debt Diaries

3: Feel Bullied by Creditors or Debt Collectors?

Read Here

4: Staying Calm About Debt

Read Here

5: Forum rules - These have been updated -

Please Read

 

 

BCOBS

 

2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

4: BCOBS and Unfair Treatment - Common Examples of Banks Behaving Badly

5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

 

 

Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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