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SimonMW

Rights when buying goods from the UK [Australia]

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OK, so this is prompted by a rash of faulty on arrival RTR locos that I have had. I thought it was worth posting here for clarity and information, as I know I for one buy a lot from the UK, and I am sure I am not the only one!

 

Please, don't START with a retailer about your rights under the laws... :) this post is about education so you understand what the laws say, and then further down is a section Some suggestions for minimal fuss. Have a read about your rights sure, but remember to act like a decent human being with the retailers, most of whom want to do the right thing by you, and communicate with them pleasantly and cooperatively. 

 

 

I'll start with UK rights (as the UK retailers should all know that inside out), and then come to those that apply to us here in Australia. Please feel free to correct me if I have made a mistake :)

 

UK provisions

The UK's Consumer Rights Act (2015) is very clear about the rights of consumers in the UK. If you receive goods that are faulty, in the first 30 days you can request a full, no questions asked, refund. If that means you need to post it back, then the retailer has to cover that also. They cannot point you at the manufacturer, your contract is with them, they are in breach as the goods are not of a suitable quality or as described, and you have a statutory right to a refund. End of. If you want a replacement, that's fine - but it is YOUR CHOICE.

 

If it was faulty when you got it, but you waited more than 30 days: from 30 days to 6 months, you can ask for a repair or a replacement (your choice)

 

More than 6 months - seriously, how can you try and say it was faulty from the start and wait this long? Wake up to yourself :) You can fall back on warranty / guarantee, that's it.

 

Australia provisions

In Australia, companies that sell from overseas into Australia have to follow Australian consumer laws. They can be seen here: Australian Consumer Rights

 

Australian consumer law describes 'minor' and 'major' problems with purchased goods. In the context of goods a product or good has a major problem when:

  • it has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it
  • it is unsafe
  • it is significantly different from the sample or description
  • it doesn’t do what the business said it would, or what you asked for and can’t easily be fixed.

So in the example of my Dean Goods that wouldn't run slowly or at below 45 / 50% throttle, even after 3 hours running in - it's a goods locomotive, if I can't shunt with it, I would not have bought it. It is a 'major' problem.

 

When a good has a major problem:

  • You can ask for a replacement or refund if the problem with the product is major.
  • Replaced products must be of an identical type to the product originally supplied. Refunds should be the same amount you have already paid, provided in the same form as your original payment.
  • The business may take into account how much time has passed since you bought the product considering the following factors:
  1. type of product
  2. how a consumer is likely to use the product
  3. the length of time for which it is reasonable for the product to be used
  4. the amount of use it could reasonably be expected to tolerate before the failure becomes noticeable.

So if it is a new product with a major problem, you have a right to a refund or replacement - same as the UK.

 

What about returns?

 

From the ACCC site:

  • You are generally responsible for returning the product if it can be posted or easily returned. You are entitled to recover reasonable postage or transportation costs from the business if the product is confirmed to have a problem, so keep your receipts.
  • You do not have to return products in the original packaging in order to get a refund.
  • If the product is found not to have a problem, you may be required to pay the transport or inspection costs. 

Combining UK and Australian provisions

The sweet spot is where UK and Australian rights coincide... and that is if you have an item that has a major fault, and if you act quickly you are entitled to a full refund or replacement, and this should include 'reasonable' postage costs to return the item.

 

Remember too, your contract as a buyer is with the retailer. DO NOT be fobbed off to the manufacturer. It is the retailer who has a legal obligation to resolve the issue. If the goods have a major problem, they are in BREACH OF THAT CONTRACT, and you have a statutory right to get a resolution from the retailer.

 

Some suggestions for minimal fuss:

  • Contact the retailer immediately - email is good as it means you keep a record of the discussion, but if you can, call them as well
  • Talk reasonably and openly about the issue - remember most of the retailers we deal with are small operations. Be flexible and willing to look for a solution
  • The costs of returning a locomotive from Australia to the UK are AT LEAST $30 to $40, plus another $12 for $200 value insurance. That will hurt a retailer on a $200 sale (it's a lot more than them sending here), so be creative and flexible if you can - think about alternate options that could avoid having to return - perhaps an agreed partial refund to recognise reduced value if you keep it, or alternate goods, etc.? Whilst recognising your consumer rights, it's not in anyone's interests to make returns it so punitive on the retailer they stop sending here
  • Return within 30 days
  • Return in original packaging where possible - make it easy for the retailer
  • Keep postage receipts
  • If the retailer baulks at the return cost - quote your rights under both the UK's Consumer Rights Act and Australian consumer laws.
  • Keep proof of the issue - video, pictures, receipts, everything. Once you have sent it back, you no longer have the item to prove the fault, and if they say "it's fine" you are stuffed if you've not kept proof.

Hopefully this proves useful. Knowing your rights is powerful, as it means you know what you are entitled to by law. You can always choose to not exercise all of those rights, but you'll be in a better place for knowing them.

Edited by SimonMW
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A couple of additional points that have been pointed out to me by Amanda at AJM Railways (thank you Amanda):

  • If you have paid with PayPal you have PayPal protection on the cost of returning, regardless of who you bought from, or where they or you are located. Do bear in mind though that PayPal's foreign currency conversion rates are horrible :)
  • If you have paid by credit card, you likely have the fall-back option of a chargeback

Bear in mind that with either option, PayPal or the credit card company will then recover their costs from the retailer, but it's no longer your problem... it does tend to wreck your relationship with that retailer though!!

 

A good retailer will just do it, no questions asked. It's about reputation and customer service, and about doing the right thing. 

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While this is very informative and no doubt correct, I would regard it pretty much as a last resort. Such problems that I have had have been resolved amicably by a few emails or the odd phone call. We should consider the risk that if we bang the ACL drum too loudly some retailers, especially smaller concerns, may choose not to supply goods to Australia if this became too prevalent.

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While this is very informative and no doubt correct, I would regard it pretty much as a last resort. Such problems that I have had have been resolved amicably by a few emails or the odd phone call. We should consider the risk that if we bang the ACL drum too loudly some retailers, especially smaller concerns, may choose not to supply goods to Australia if this became too prevalent.

Which is why I said:

 

"be creative and flexible if you can - think about alternate options that could avoid having to return - perhaps an agreed partial refund to recognise reduced value if you keep it, or alternate goods, etc.? Whilst recognising your consumer rights, it's not in anyone's interests to make returns it so punitive on the retailer they stop sending here"

 

:)

 

The second last point on all of that was: 

  • If the retailer baulks at the return cost - quote your rights under both the UK's Consumer Rights Act and Australian consumer laws.

I absolutely agree with you, which is why that IS a last resort. 

 

I firmly believe that knowing your rights leads to informed action. The wisdom is in choosing WHEN to exert your rights, and when not to... ;-)

Edited by SimonMW
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