Retailers 'mislead customers' over return of faulty goods

Damaged laptop

Some of the UK's biggest retailers are fobbing off customers with incorrect information on their consumer rights, according to a new investigation.

Consumer watchdog Which? found that Amazon, Apple, Currys, Argos, John Lewis and Euronics could all be offering shoppers misleading information about their rights.

Mystery shoppers visited or called Amazon, Apple, Currys, John Lewis and Euronics 12 times each to ask what they should do about a faulty laptop or TV they had bought from the store that was just out of warranty.

Under the Sale of Goods Act, if a product develops a fault before it would reasonably be expected to, shoppers can claim against the store rather than the manufacturer, even if the warranty period has expired.

Very poor service

On 56 of the 72 occasions, staff at the stores stated or gave a clear impression that shoppers didn't have any rights against the retailer, asking them to contact the manufacturer – even though the retailers may have been obliged to repair or replace the goods for free.

Rating the calls or visits from 'very poor' to 'excellent', the consumer watchdog found that of the 12 calls made to Amazon, nine were rated very poor while both John Lewis and Argos had seven visits rated as very poor.

Currys and Apple were ranked highest in the investigation, but still only received satisfactory ratings for five of the 12 visits. None of the retailers scored an excellent rating.

The investigation comes in the wake of a Which? survey that found just one in five people (21%) was aware that the retailer could be responsible for a faulty product after the warranty has expired.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: "It is unacceptable that customers could be left out of pocket by following incorrect information from major retailers about their shopping rights. Stores must ensure that the information their staff are giving is correct."

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