North Yorkshire Trading Standards officer Liz Fitzgerald answers Christmas consumer questions.
Even if you know your rights under consumer protection legislation, registering an electrical item with the manufacturer will provide more than just a warranty. Registering your product doesn’t take long and makes it easy for the manufacturer to get in touch with you if it turns out the item is somehow faulty or dangerous.
Electrical products are recalled more often than you might think, but typically only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of these recalled products are returned and/or repaired.
It’s also important to remember that manufacturers don’t have to provide a warranty, as they aren’t a legal requirement. You might be able to use a warranty to claim a repair or replacement in certain circumstances, but you always have your statutory rights if you run into difficulty with a product. These usually last longer than a warranty.
Where someone has bought an item of clothing or, in this instance, receives a present and it is either the wrong size, they had a change of mind or the item is an unwanted gift, there is no automatic right to return goods. Generally, if the item has been bought in a shop and is not faulty you have no rights to return it unless the trader has its own return policy. Some shops offer exchanges as a matter of good will.
An added complication here is that as the jumper is a gift, the contract is between the aunt and the shop, not you and the shop. This means any right to a refund or replacement for faulty goods or even a good will exchange remain with your aunt. It’s a good idea to ask shops you are buying gifts from if they give gift receipts. You can then pass this on to the recipient in case they need to return the item.
If you have bought an item from a retailer online, it remains the retailer’s responsibility until it comes into your physical possession or the possession of the person to whom you have arranged delivery. Therefore, if the carrier fails to deliver the goods, or delivers them to the wrong address, this is the retailer’s responsibility.
Unless you have agreed otherwise with the retailer, delivery should be made without undue delay and no later than 30 days from the day after the contract was made.
If 30 days have passed or you suspect that you will not receive the goods and you have paid for them via credit card and the goods cost over £100 and under £30,000, your purchase is covered by the Consumer Credit Act, under which the credit card company is jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the retailer or trader. It is just as responsible as the retailer or trader for the goods or service supplied. This means that if you are not getting a response from the company about the item you can put your claim to the credit card company.
You don't have to reach a stalemate with the retailer or trader before you contact your credit card provider. You can make a claim to both the retailer and credit card provider simultaneously, although you can't recover your losses from both.
All toys for sale in the UK must be labelled with a CE mark, and with the name and address of the manufacturer or importer of the toy.
The CE mark means the toy has been tested against the toy safety standard and has passed the minimum requirements for it to be considered safe for a child to play with.
Toys suitable for children under three must not have any small parts that could pose a choking hazard. If a toy is not suitable for children under three it should be accompanied with a warning or pictogram stating that it is not suitable to be given to a child under three and what the hazard is, e.g. ‘Not suitable for children under 36 months, WARNING: Choking Hazard’ or the pictogram and similar warning.
Toys specifically aimed at under-threes, such as rattles, teethers and soft-bodied toys should not have this warning as the toy should be safe for an under-three and therefore not have such hazards.
Before giving your child a toy, check that it is suitable for their age, that it has the CE mark and is labelled with a proper name and address. Check before you give it to them that it is not faulty. Also check battery compartments are secure. Button batteries are highly dangerous to a small child, if swallowed.