People’s Champion - January 23, 2014

Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney

Hampshire police faces traffic police cuts in ‘devastating blow’

Have your say

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

Q Can you tell me where I stand please? I bought an Acer laptop from a supermarket electrical department which went wrong just one week out of the manufacturer’s guarantee. A knowledgeable friend has told me the hard disc has packed up. The store is refusing to repair or replace it. Surely a laptop costing nearly £400 should last longer than 12 months?

DV (internet)

A You’re right, it should. Provided you’ve not deliberately contributed to the fault your statutory rights include a repair, replacement, partial refund, or compensation.

That protection lasts for up to six years from the date of purchase. As you’d expect a laptop to last at least that long, being told it’s not their problem is an unacceptable cop-out.

Supermarkets find the profit on their electrical lines not particularly attractive. That’s why they’re prepared to play fast and loose with their customers’ contractual and statutory rights by using the manufacturer’s guarantee as a convenient excuse to hide behind.

There’s also a touch of arrogance in the mindset of some large company executives, who have the strange notion that their market dominance and power somehow exempts them from their legal obligations for faulty merchandise.

Under fair trading rules introduced in 2008, there is an enforceable legal obligation for any business not to mislead consumers about their redress rights for defective goods, including products which fail prematurely.

Some supermarkets may just need reminding their size and market share does not exempt them from trading fairly.

Q I’d like to bring to your attention the fact that people using food banks are being targeted by loan sharks offering cash at huge rates of interest. I’d be grateful if you’d warn people about this please.

JP (email)

A There’s a groundswell of anecdotal evidence that unscrupulous lenders are approaching people in the vicinity of food banks and offering them loans.

I’ve also heard stories of people being forced to hand over their bank cards or rent books as security and being intimidated if they default on the loan.

Please contact me again with more details. Before I can help you I’ll need more evidence of potential criminality.