The law does offer the consumer protection, but trying to invoke it can be a tedious, time consuming and sometimes difficult procedure. Especially when we are dealing with high tech products such as computers.
The problem of determining whether a product is faulty or not no longer rests on a consumer's shoulder following amendments to the Sale of Goods Act in March.
Even so, getting a company to fulfil its obligation can be tough and consumers need to know their rights under this law.
Ron King said that from the beginning he was unhappy with the PC he bought from PC World in May of 2003.
He said that there were problems with system restore functions, and that the PC was slow for its specifications.
Over the next few months he followed the advice given by PC World, but to no avail. Twice a technician came to his house to examine the PC but Mr King said that the problems continued.
By the time he was told that a new hard drive might do the trick, Mr King was not impressed.
"The technician admitted that fitting a new hard drive was an extremely 'long shot' and was in no way guaranteed to work. So I cannot agree to this unless they guarantee it will work, and if not give me a full refund," he told me.
He also did not want the PC picked up for tests as his daughter needed a computer for her schoolwork, and he was concerned about how long it would take to fix.
With this ultimatum from Mr King, communications with PC World broke down, as I found out when I called to check on progress.
I need to clarify something here. As Mr King is adamant that the PC doesn't work properly, under the Sale of Goods Act the onus is still on PC World to prove otherwise.
But because Mr King didn't reject the PC after a short trial period, PC World is within its rights to pick up the PC for full diagnostic tests.
I can understand Mr King's frustration, especially as rather than reject the goods out of hand he tried PC World's initial suggestions.
But I also think that PC World should have arranged to pick up the PC for test far earlier, and saved Mr King a lot of grief.
PC World has now offered Mr King a choice. He can either choose a replacement PC or return the original PC for tests.
If found faulty, then he should be entitled to a repair or, if this is not possible, a refund.
Sale of Goods
If goods do not meet certain criteria when first bought, such as being fit for purpose, you can reject them and get your money back.
If you have used them for more than a trial period - as in Mr King's case - you cannot reject them but can claim reasonable compensation, which will often be repair, replacement or price reduction. See the DTI's Consumer and Competition Policy guidelines here
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