Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q My son bought a mattress from a local store in January 2011 at a cost of £349. It has developed a big dip in it where the memory foam top seems to have disappeared. I phoned the store and have been told that, as he didn’t purchase a guarantee, he will have to pay £40 for an independent assessment and then send it away. Do you think I should pay this as the salesman said the cheapest mattress should last at least five years?
A I’m not quite sure where the store is coming from with your complaint.
By law, anything you buy must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and durable.
It’s got nothing to do with whether you bought a guarantee or not.
The law is the law, and retailers cannot get around it by insisting you pay extra in order to meet their legal obligations to you.
By way of a general comment, the suggestion you have no legal rights unless you have bought an additional guarantee will amount to a misleading trading practice and is banned by regulations five and six of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, 2008.
The onus is always on the buyer to prove that goods are defective if they are more than six months old.
Presumably that is why the store is asking you to shell out £40 for an independent expert report.
If the report finds in your favour, the store will either have to replace the bed or refund the original cost, plus the cost of the report.
Before you pay out for the report make sure it’s genuinely independent, and the inspection is not carried out by one of the store’s own paid staff.
Q Since the digital changeover, I’ve been able to get all the new channels on my main TV, but I’ve got two other portable TVs that come with built-in indoor aerials that I can’t retune, and the screen remains blank. Do I have to throw these perfectly good TVs away?
A No, of course not.
I don’t know of any TV that can’t be converted to digital reception.
It seems to me that your problem is with the built-in aerials, which are not up to scratch to enable you to pick up sufficient digital signal to retune them.
Provided you have the correct set top box, the answer is to pre-tune them by disconnecting the indoor aerial from the aerial socket, and connecting it to your main TV socket.
This will give you a strong enough signal to carry out the retuning process, by selecting ‘setup’ on the remote control.
Once the setup process is complete, you’ll find that all the new digital channels will be installed.
Disconnect from your main TV aerial and reconnect the portable built-in aerials, and there will be enough signal strength to give you a perfect picture using the set top box remote in the normal way.
Q I bought a bargain dinner service for £20 from a local shop, but when I unpacked it two of the dinner plates were cracked and another was broken. On taking it back to the shop they offered me a credit note, but I insisted on my money back, which they refused. What are my rights?
A You are entitled by law to a refund. You do not have to accept a credit note if that is not what you want.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at email@example.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.