Knowing your rights pays off when returning goods

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David Curwen, centre, hugs his mother with whom he wa sreunited. Completing the group is his brother Keith

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Reunited after 30 years – but only thanks to a kind stranger

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

Q I bought a new TV from John Lewis in Southampton which had a problem getting the text to appear on channel one. I’m going back to the store within a few days to get the matter sorted. I don’t expect any problems, where do I stand? Do I have to let them repair it?

JP (e-mail)

A Your query was worth bringing to the wider attention of readers because it illustrates what you have a right to expect from retailers if anything you buy turns out to be a dud.

I advised you that if anything you buy develops a fault within the first six months from the date of purchase, you’ve a right to a refund, repair, replacement, or compensation – whatever is the most convenient remedy.

Going for a repair doesn’t prevent you from insisting on one of the other remedies should it not solve the problem.

The relevant law is The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002. When I didn’t hear from you for a while I assumed that armed with appropriate information, you got the matter sorted. And so it turned out to be. You later told me that John Lewis couldn’t be more helpful if they tried. They discovered that a replacement same model TV in their store had a similar problem.

You agreed to change it for a different model but it carried a £20 extra price tag. As a gesture of goodwill, the store agreed to waive this additional charge.

Your success story confirms that knowing your legal rights about defective products pays off

Q Can you help me with a problem with Barclays bank? £840 was mysteriously taken from my current account for no apparent reason. I then received a letter demanding immediate repayment of an ‘unauthorised’ overdraft and a penalty charge. When I complained to the branch, I was told it would be put right, but the following month the same happened again. Please help.

KG (internet)

A After Barclays finally agreed I could take the matter up for you, they first insisted the payment related to your mortgage.

I pointed out that you didn’t have a mortgage.

There then followed an initial deafening silence, finally followed by a promise to get back to me.

A day or so later, all was revealed. A ‘human error’ had resulted in another customer’s mortgage payments being wrongly deducted from your account. The bank offered you a profuse apology. The penalty charges, now more than £80, were refunded, and a £50 credit was added to your account in compensation. Problem solved.


Richard Thomson has worked for leading UK and European companies as a market research analyst, and in consumer education and protection with trading standards. Write or e-mail him with your consumer questions or to fight for your rights at An individual answer cannot be guaranteed. Replies are intended to give help or advice, not a complete statement of law.