Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
A. Your question is one I get asked on a regular basis.
How long should anything we buy last? The law defines the quality of goods and includes ‘durability’ as one of the tests of satisfactory quality. But as I repeatedly tell readers the law is seldom plain and rarely simple.
Your right to claim compensation for defective goods does not drop off the end of a cliff after the manufacturer’s guarantee expires. You can make a claim against the seller for up to six years from the date of purchase.
So far, so good. The problem arises when a buyer reasonably expect goods to wear out, which is frequently not the same expectation of the seller.
If a buyer can’t claim a defect within the first six months, then the seller has every right to claim the goods were okay when they were purchased, and any emerging defect must be down either to misuse, or wear and tear.
But we all know this is an over simplistic view. Apart from the cost of goods being an accepted benchmark of quality and durability, the law gets around this problem with unhelpful vague, almost meaningless wording, such as ‘all the other circumstances’ associated with the purchase.
Really not helpful at all.
In your case it appears Next are claiming fair wear and tear after four years’ use. You are saying this is unreasonable. To be honest I can’t answer your question with any degree of certainty because I can’t begin to know what was ‘reasonable’ in the circumstances.
The only clue I have is that after four years only one of the drawers has proved defective. That suggests that the weight of the argument is on your side. It’ll be up to you to press it home with Next and ask them to reconsider their decision.
Q. We bought a 50 inch TV from Currys in March 2008. A few weeks ago it broke down. We complained to Currys on the basis that a £1,000 TV should last longer than 4 ½ years, and their quote of £500 to fix it was unacceptable. Where do we go from here?
A. Same problem, different product.
Your TV is a complex product made up of hundreds of different parts which, if any one of them fails, can result in a complete loss of picture.
A TV costing £1,000 should undoubtedly last longer than 4.5 years before it is written off as only being fit to grace the local rubbish tip.
Coupled with the price you paid for it, the weight of the law is on your side when it comes to sorting out who should pay for the repairs.
To demand a further £500 to put it right is clearly preposterous.
To put it terms we can all understand, you’ve had 4.5 years viewing from the TV, you therefore can’t expect Currys to foot the entire bill to fix it. They should however make you a reasonable offer based on the fact you’ve only had under half the average 8 year lifespan from your TV.
On that basis they should offer you a minimum of £281 being half of 4.5 times its current value towards the cost of the repair. Get onto their customer services and don’t take no for an answer.