Fit for purpose? Under the Sale of Goods Act, a buyer who requires goods for a particular purpose which is not the normal or obvious one, should obtain confirmation in writing from the seller that the article is suitable for that purpose. An example might be purchasing a set of power tools and intending to use them for professional or semi-professional reasons rather than just for amateur DIY jobs around the home. If things go wrong in such circumstances the seller cannot then deny the buyer a replacement or refund on the basis that the latter used the goods to excess or for some purpose other than that for which they were sold.
Keep your receipt – Any subsequent claim for compensation will be made more difficult without a receipt. And while it may not always be easy, try not to break or tear the original packaging as many suppliers insist that goods should be returned with this intact. If an item is unsatisfactory from the start do not keep using it; instead act at once to record your dissatisfaction with the supplier. Persevering with the item in the vain hope that it will ‘work eventually’ may cause further damage and adversely affect any subsequent claim as a result.
Be reasonable – Allow a reasonable time for the seller to provide a replacement. However what constitutes ‘reasonable’ will, I’m afraid, depend very much on each individual circumstance – e.g. the size and intricate nature of the item, possible technical investigations required by the manufacturer, and the physical distance between vendor and buyer.
Your choice – If the seller does not repair or replace an item which is not up to the advertised standard within a reasonable time, the buyer has the right to either reject it altogether and get his or her money back or, if appropriate, keep the goods but require the seller to reduce the price by an appropriate amount.
If all else fails…Should buyer and seller fail to agree, the former does have the option of going to law. Whether this is appropriate will, of course, depend on various circumstances – probably the most important being the value of the item. However even when the value is small the buyer may wish to seek recompense for other consequences arising from the dispute – e.g. working time lost dealing with the issue, the cost of phone calls or simple stress.Richard Godden Partner – Dispute Resolution & Personal Injury
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