Black Friday Blues: What have I done?

Published on: 4th December 2019 13:00

What have I done?

We have all woken up regretting what we did the day before and maybe the same applies to you once the Black Friday deliveries start to arrive? As soon as those fabulous goods you ordered in the shopping frenzy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday arrive, the regret might just start…

The good news is thanks to the Consumer Contracts Regulations you can return goods bought online within 14 days from the moment you place your order. Bear in mind that in busy periods postal or courier delivery can take a few days, you might not have many days left once you receive the goods, to return them.

Well, actually if you notify the retailer within the 14-day period you then have 14 days to return the goods.

Some retailers are particularly generous and offer longer periods than this, so it is always worth checking with the retailer – you might just still have time.

Where there’s a pro, there’s always a con, and here is the bad news – these rules don’t apply to all goods. Things like DVD’s or CD’s if the seal is broken, perishable goods, tailor-made items. So again, you might need to check before you start quoting the law to the retailer.

And there’s more – although some retailers provide returns labels with shipping paid, this goes further than the law requires and if the retailer doesn’t provide for this then you will need to pay for return posting.  Always a good idea to get proof of postage – in most cases, retailers will accept this as proof of return even if the item gets lost in the ether.

Another nail in the coffin for the High Street?

As if retailers with physical shops didn’t have it hard enough these rules don’t apply to unwanted goods bought from the high street – only online. So, there seems to me to be an advantage right there for the keyboard warriors. I have no doubt that there are plenty of shrewd folk out there who have already worked this out and who relentlessly click and collect.

Although most retailers will have a returns policy though which is usually an exchange or in-store credit, the law doesn’t require them to have this. However, if they have a policy, they are obliged to honour it. Interestingly (for me at least) this is another example in the law where although no policy is required by law if one is voluntarily adopted then this can be used by customers to their advantage. Employers face a similar situation with policies – all too often employers put policies in place and then promptly don’t follow them which plays into the hands of employees.

So, just because the law sets out one position doesn’t mean that this is the only answer and you might still be able to get where you need.

Faulty items

For faulty items the position is different, but the same whether you buy online or in-store. Again, the Consumer Rights Act sets out what your rights are. You have 30 days from purchase or delivery (whichever is later), to return an item although for perishable items this is reduced to the expected lifespan – such as a best before date.

If you are outside the 30 day period then you need to give the retailer the reason why you are wanting to reject the goods (ie which part of the Consumer Rights Act you say is applicable), and then give the retailer an opportunity to repair or replace it (their choice but no harm in stating your preference). If this is unsuccessful you can claim a refund, or a reduction if you wish to keep the product.

Don’t forget that if you used a credit card to pay for the goods (or even part) you may be able to claim against your card provider which may be easier than battling directly with the retailer.

What about things that are wrong but take time to reveal themselves?

These are what lawyers would call latent defects, and the law says that if these arise within 6 months of purchase or delivery then they are treated as having always been there and you have the same rights as you would if you discovered it straight away, as explained above. It is for the retailer to show that this is not the case.

After six months, this changes – you as the consumer need to show that this fault was there from the beginning, which may mean you need a technical report showing why this is the case.

I swear I never received it

Until you receive the goods, the retailer is responsible for the goods. Slightly trickier when the retailer (or more likely their courier) has delivered, but the goods have now gone – if you gave permission for the goods to be left somewhere then once they have been left there, the risk passes to you.

If the goods have been stolen then it is not the retailer’s responsibility, but they may help you report this to police by confirming that they delivered it, but it is unlikely to help to get the goods back.

On the other hand, if you have not left specific delivery instructions and the goods never arrive, then you can quite properly say that the contract has not been fulfilled and claim a refund or replacement.

Hangover cure

So, if you have a shopping hangover and think that you might have overdone it with the credit card on Black Friday, you can always look at returning goods – especially if you purchased online. If you need more help on this subject our advice line will be able to help