Manager’s special was not such a good bargain

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Fresh strike action from Southern Railway staff

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Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I bought a ‘manager’s special’ fridge freezer from a Comet auction which was said to have cosmetic cabinet damage and a wine rack missing. When it was delivered there was a very noticeable dent in one side which I decided was quite unacceptable. Comet is refusing to take it back and refund me. Where do I stand please?

R McB (internet)

A You haven’t given me enough detail to advise you fully, but some general principles of sale of goods law will apply.

I’m not quite sure what the phrase ‘manager’s special’ means, but it suggests the product is either some kind of ex-display model, or has suffered transit damage and is thus being sold off at a reduced price.

Assuming that is the case, then you were surely compensated for the damage and missing rack by the price reduction.

The issue between you really seems to boil down to whether the price reduction properly and adequately reflects the true value to you of the product. As long as it works properly and complies with the manufacturer’s specification, then it will be ‘fit for purpose’.

Setting aside for the moment any issues about compliance with the distance selling regulations and other associated consumer law, I venture to suggest that such was the scale of the reduction that you must have realised the damaged cabinet was likely to be far more than a barely visible scratch.

The law says that goods should be free from defects (even minor ones) but if you agree to waive that right in order to accept a bargain offer, then you’ll be stuck with it.

From what you have told me I don’t believe Comet will budge from their decision, and I can’t really see any good reason why they should.

Q I recently arranged a loan over the internet, but on checking my bank statements I’ve discovered I’m also paying insurance to cover the repayments. Is this legal?

KS (internet)

A After checking the paperwork that came with your loan I quickly discovered that when you signed up the insurance was included in the cost. If you didn’t want it you needed to opt out by ticking box on the application form. Unfortunately it’s all perfectly legal, and the insurer has done nothing wrong.

Q I’ve moved into a rented property and I’ve noticed that a sticker on the gas fire surround indicates the fire needs servicing. I’ve asked the agent about it but it has still not been serviced. What are my rights?

JG (internet)

A It’s the legal responsibility of the landlord or the agent on the landlord’s behalf to take care of this for you. You should have been shown or given copies of the safety certificate for the fire when you took over the tenancy.

Write to the agent and request the fire is serviced promptly. Say that by promptly you mean within 14 days, and if it is not done in this time you’ll arrange for a qualified engineer to do the work and you’ll deduct the cost from the rent.