CONSUMER: Argos turns over new leaf after complaints over faulty table

Paula Hardy bought a table from Argos that developed a defect
Paula Hardy bought a table from Argos that developed a defect
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Loyal Argos shopper Paula Hardy was left angry and dismayed when her guarantee claim to replace an 11-month-old faulty dining room table was turned down on a technicality.

Paula explained her disillusionment with the store all started in late September when a dining room set she’d bought for her son and his partner was found to be faulty.

Just a week or so short of the expiry of the initial one year guarantee, her daughter-in-law rang to ask whether she should talk to Argos about an apparent but prominent defect with the table.

Parts of the edges had started coming away and peeling back, something they didn’t expect after so little use.

Paula suggested getting in touch with the firm to report the defect and ask what they were prepared to do about it. But to her astonishment a customer service advisor insisted it was only the buyer, Paula, who could trigger an in-guarantee claim.

Local government officer Paula said: ‘My son’s partner contacted Argos customer service on my behalf on at the end of September to voice her concerns and they told her that the account holder needed to contact them, which was me.

‘I did so on October 17 and explained I’d been ill and that was the reason for the delay in getting back to them.

‘Argos emailed me two days later to say they were sorry that the item developed a fault but that as it was now out of the 12-month guarantee period, an independent report would be required.

‘They said: ‘‘Please arrange for an accredited specialist to carry out an inspection and provide you with a report to identify the cause of the fault, then send a copy of the report and any relevant documentation to customer relations’’.’

‘I tried to explain to Argos about the dates of the first contact but they wouldn’t budge, only wanting a specialist report.’

Paula was understandably miffed that Argos appeared to be throwing up barriers to her claim.

What upset and frustrated her most of all was the expense and inconvenience of obtaining an independent expert report when the defect was reported before the guarantee ran out.

Despite making her feelings known, the top high street retailer refused to listen.

A disgruntled Paula believed she’d been treated unfairly and decided to get in touch with Streetwise.

We considered the issues raised by her complaint to Argos and looked at her options.

As usual where the law is concerned, nothing is entirely plain or simple. From a strictly legal point of view we couldn’t fault their insistence that only the buyer of a faulty or shoddy product could claim under the guarantee.

It was simply a matter of who the contracted parties were when she agreed to buy the dining set, and that was clearly Paula and the Argos store.

Had the table’s defects shown up within the first six months of buying it, the response would have been far less complicated and transparent.

Argos would have been obliged by law to offer a no-quibble repair, replacement, or refund.

But because the problems with the table hadn’t come to light until the guarantee had expired, the onus was on Paula to prove it wasn’t of satisfactory quality and should have lasted longer.

Most people would surely argue that a table that showed signs of being the worse for wear after only a year’s use indicated it was insufficiently durable and should be replaced.

However, Argos was clearly not insisting on a report to duck responsibility to recompense her for a dodgy product. It was the timing that was all-important.

As she hadn’t claimed personally before the guarantee had expired, Argos was perfectly within its rights to insist on the report to decide on the appropriate course of action. That was the only option.

Streetwise got in touch with Argos. We accepted they’d acted perfectly properly in dealing with the guarantee claim.

However, given the circumstances we could understand why Paula was so brassed off. She just couldn’t believe why as a loyal customer she wasn’t being treated as valuable and important. We asked them to look into her case and reconsider.

A few days later, Argos came up trumps. Paula took a call from their customer services to say they were replacing the table with a brand new one, an outcome she frankly didn’t expect.

A spokesperson told Streetwise ‘We have apologised to Mrs Hardy for her experience and arranged a replacement.’

Given her previous experience, Paula was astounded and delighted by the rapid reply.

She said: ‘I was so shocked when I received such a prompt response. So I have to thank Streetwise for it. It was really nice to have this good news before Christmas as my daughter-in-law has had such a bad year. I want to thank you so much for your help and what a great service from The News. I’m glad I buy The News daily.’