Don’t take no for answer

Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Have your say

Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions

Q We bought a top of the range Bosch refrigerator in 2010 from Knight & Lee. A fault developed with the top hinge just shortly after the two-year guarantee ran out. The store told us it was just hard luck, and to contact the manufacturer. Bosch reiterated the hard luck story and charged me £25 for a new bracket. Surely this can’t be right?

ME (email)

A Top of my postbag are letters from readers who are rightly upset that what they thought was a good buy turns out to be a turkey.

What infuriates them most is the insensitive run around they are given when they have good cause to complain.

You paid almost £500 for your fridge, and a fundamental part failed in just over two years. For that price you are entitled to expect the most vulnerable mechanical part to be so designed that it would last at least six years, and the appliance perhaps 10 years or more.

Knight & Lee’s response was about as helpful as a chocolate teapot. The dismissive stance in batting you away to the manufacturer must cast a shadow over their commitment to customer care. If anything they should have contacted Bosch for you.

To be fair, as Bosch didn’t sell you anything, they weren’t obliged to do anything either. But I must confess if they’d tried to flog me a hinge for £25 I’d have told them where to put it and bent their corporate ear.

And no, it wasn’t right to make yet more money out of the premature hinge bracket failure.

This is not in any way a criticism, but I suspect if you’d have taken a more decisive robust stance with either party they’d have caved in.

The secret to standing up for your rights is not to take no for an answer.

Q I recently ordered two dresses online from a company called Oasis. Neither fitted so I returned them both in the original packaging. Oasis are now claiming that I only returned one, despite the weight of the package on the returns slip indicating both were returned. Can you advise please?

KW (email)

A I spent almost 20 minutes looking around the Oasis site trying to find their company information, including their head office address and company registration number. Although they have a returns address at Witney in Oxfordshire, the Oasis site appears to be in breach of the law by not displaying their company details.

To make matters worse, you can only contact them through their website e-mail facility, and there are no contact details for their customer services, which apparently could be in Timbuktu for all they seem to care. Their press office isn’t any help either, as it doesn’t list press officer’s names, let alone their numbers.

As you bought the dresses over the internet, you were fully entitled to return them within seven days for a refund. This must be displayed on any website too, but Oasis don’t seem to bother about that either.

To put it bluntly they’re breaking every rule in the book. I suggest you put your complaint to trading standards. You can contact them via the new CAB consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.

SMALL PRINT

Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at richardjthomson1@sky.com and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.