Shoppers lose out by not returning goods on time

19/07/2013 08:21

When you purchase a product, expectations are that the product will be fit for its purpose. Sometimes you may come across situations where the product was faulty, damaged or of poor quality and you failed to return the goods on time.

A research from Consumers International member WHICH, a consumer organization based in United Kingdom has revealed that consumers lost out on an estimated £1.2billion (about F$3.4billion) in the last year by not exercising their right to return goods.

Normally, redress must be sought within a reasonable timeframe.  Unfortunately due to distance, financial constraints or work commitments, consumers may be unable to seek redress on time or at all. This happens despite having a receipt or when the consumer goods are of low monetary value.   

The Consumer Council advises consumers to seek timely redress to avoid losing their hard earned money by not returning goods in time when they had the right to do so. Traders also have the responsibility of providing redress immediately rather than giving a run around to consumers.

Case Study

In March 2012, Mr. Timoci purchased 110 liters of paint worth $1728, from a hardware store to renovate his house.

His builder caused unnecessary delays that led to Mr Timoci using the paint after three months of purchasing. When he opened the can, he and his carpenter noticed bubbles in the paint.

Because Mr. Timoci’s house was located in a rural area, he was unable to return the paint immediately. He requested the hardware store to collect the paint cans from his house; however he was told to return it himself. Finally, in January 2013, Mr. Timoci returned the paint to the hardware store, after a lapse of 6 months when he first noticed bubbles. 

The hardware store then advised Mr. Timoci that they will send the paint to the supplier for testing to check whether it had quality issues.

Four months had lapsed and the hardware store did not provide Mr. Timoci with a response. He made several visits to the store. Instead he was advised that he should have used the paint within weeks of purchase. However, the label on the paint cans did not have any information on its shelf life. 

Not satisfied with this response, Mr. Timoci took the matter up with the Council. The Council intervened after which a test report was provided in May 2013, which stated nothing was wrong with the paint. The report further stated that the paint was in a usable condition and redress could not be provided. 

During mediation, the hardware store agreed to provide a credit note of $1404.80 after deducting 15% as handling and service charges. Mr. Timoci was satisfied with this offer.

Mr. Timoci could have effectively sought redress within a reasonable timeframe if he had returned the product. He should not have taken 6 months to return the paint when he spotted bubbles within three months of purchasing the product.

The hardware store also failed to immediately address Mr. Timoci’s concern by promptly contacting their supplier. Instead they kept the paint for 4 months.

Remember- you are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement if the product is of poor quality, damaged, does not match the description or is not fit for the purpose.

You don’t have the right to return something if you just don’t want it.