Your rights as a consumer

I bought a Western Digital My Book 1tb external hard drive recently from Komplett.ie and it was dead on arrival.

I checked the Komplett site and was led to a page with instructions on returns

Komplett.ie returns instructions

I followed the instructions and received an RMA several days later. I posted back the drive and a week later I received an email saying:

RMA item received, not tested yet.
You will be notified later by e-mail at the next action.

They haven’t even looked at it yet? AAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

This was on November 30th. I ordered this device on November 2nd. I still don’t have an external storage option over a month later.

Over the weekend I started looking into my rights as a consumer and I noticed on the Consumer’ Association of Ireland website that:

When you buy goods from a retailer, you make a contract with him. He agrees to provide certain goods to you for a certain price. If your purchase turns out to be faulty, the retailer, not the manufacturer, is responsible to you and must sort out your complaint. You are entitled to a refund, a replacement or a repair.

[emphasis added]

A refund? I didn’t see any mention of this anywhere on the Komplett website but according to the Consumer’s Association, I am within my rights to ask for it – excellent!

I have now emailed Komplett asking for a full refund. It will be interesting to see their response (and how long it takes). I’m not holding my breath.

10 thoughts on “Your rights as a consumer”

  1. Nice one Tom — Ireland’s consumers need to be a bit more up-and-at-’em in this manner.

    I wish I could do something similar with An Post btw. They’ve managed to lose a package sent from the North, from sendit.com, and I have a terrible feeling they’ve also lost an *award* we received recently, which was posted to me from Germany and still hasn’t arrived after a week and a half. 😦

    (btw Sendit.com were fantastic — they refunded the full price of the goods immediately, I’m very happy about that end of things. Pity about An Post though.)

  2. Very interesting Tom.

    On October 6th I ordered a Belkin Cardbus Wireless 802.11g from Komplett. I specifically choose this one because the System Requirement section indicated that it worked with Windows 98 (First Edition) –

    http://komplett.ie/k/ki.asp?sku=322312

    “Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition / Windows ME, Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP”

    Imagine my disappointment when, after receiving the package and opening the installation manual, I read that the System Requirements were a minimum of Windows 98 Second Edition! Needless to say I initiated the RMA process requesting a full refund. Which resulted in an email starting –

    “I am approving the return of this item based on the assumption that it has not been opened/used. If it has been, the engineers reserve the right to refuse this and send the item back to you.”

    WTF? How as I supposed to discover that they had falsely advertised Windows 98 compatibility unless I opened the package and attempted an installation. Of course this was a canned response but not one to temper my growing anger!

    The package has now been returned to them, let’s see what happens next. One thing I can say about this experience though – it seems designed to be as difficult and off-putting as possible 😦

  3. I don’t think it’s in your rights to ask for a refund, it is just listed as one of the acceptable responses of the retailer. That if they can’t repair or replace it, they can just give you your money back. What they can’t do, I believe, is give you a credit note if the product is faulty.

    You might find the online shopping information page from the Office of the Director of Consumer affairs useful

    http://www.odca.ie/cfmdocs/c_query/online_shopping.cfm

    Having said that, Komplett don’t seem to make it easy to find out their returns policy. I finally found terms and conditions by clicking on ‘about us’, then ‘shopping’ then ‘conditions’ (or just click on https://www.komplett.ie/k/k.asp?action=custserv&topic=cond if you’re in a hurry).

    They refer to an ‘After you buy’ help section that I couldn’t find. You might have something based on the wording “Komplett agree to as quickly as possible after being notified of a faulty product carry out efforts to correct the fault.” but I’m no lawyer.

  4. Aidan,

    I don’t see anything on the ODCA site which says I am not entitled to a refund and the Consumer Association site linked to in the post exolicitly say I am within my rights to ask for a full refund if the goods supplied are faulty.

    In fact they go further here:

    If goods are not of merchantable quality, you do not have to accept a repair. You can insist on a refund or a replacement.

  5. Two things which might be o interest to you Tom. The CXonsumer Association are currently running an advertising campaign which says you are entitled to a refund within seven days of any online purchase.

    Secondly, the small claims process has been simplified due to a new online service which allows you to claim without having to go to court. Don’t have a URL but saw it on the news this morning, so if the situation isn’t resolved I’d say it’s a route worth pursuing.

  6. Tom,

    Did you buy this as a individual , or through a business? If it’s the first , you’re covered by the Sale of Goods act 1980 (the parts quoted by the Consumer Association above).

    If it’s the latter, then you’re in a much weaker position as the law presumes that business purchasers know what they are doing.

    Paul

  7. Tom,

    Okay, I’ll rephrase slightly. You are entitled to ask for a refund, but they are not necessarily legally obliged to give you a refund. They have to offer you a repair, replacement or refund. You aren’t obliged to accept their offer and can take legal action, e.g. small claims court. I believe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule. Things like how soon you reported the problem, how bad the problem was, the speed with which the retailer tries to make restitution, come into play if a judge has to rule, as far as I know.

    The ODCA page about general goods and services talks about this. (Interestingly, their old page on the subject mentions the decision being at the discretion of the retailer, but this has been excised from the latest version – you can still see it on the old page – so perhaps some case law has had an impact here)

    The ODCA document from the business’ perspective goes into all the legalities in greater detail – for anyone who’s interested.

    Given Komplett have an Irish phone number, an Irish address and a .ie domain, even if the item is shipped from the UK, I think you’re pretty safe in expecting Irish (and not UK) consumer law to apply. There is some EU directive on inter-country consumer rights.

    Oh, and this is the online small claims court system that Piaras referred to is at

  8. Aidan, thanks for that. There seem to be ambiguous statements on the two sites. For instance, the Consumer’s Association also say:

    If goods are not of merchantable quality, you do not have to accept a repair. You can insist on a refund or a replacement.

    What is not clear to me is if you can say I won’t accept a repair or replacement, I want a full refund.

    That’s a handy update Piaras, thanks.

    Paul, I bought it as an individual, although that is a very valid point you raise.

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