When Albert Deacon was told by furniture giant SCS that he’d have to fork out a non-refundable £60 to have a faulty chair inspected, he was determined not to take the matter lying down.
The retired Waterlooville bricklayer was far from impressed when a recliner chair he’d bought from the firm just 15 months earlier was already showing signs of advanced wear and tear.
Albert explained he’d been on the lookout for a second leather recliner to complement the one his disabled wife Jeannette used on a daily basis.
On looking around the local SCS store for inspiration, he took a shine to a leather La-Z-Boy Hampton swivel recliner and footstool combination, priced at £758 including protective treatment.
He decided to go for the chair as Jeannette’s 12- year-old leather recliner they bought from Marriotts furnishers in Portsmouth was still as good as new.
Albert, 77, said: ‘The chair I saw in SCS was just what I wanted. It suited me and La-Z-Boy is a good make, so I went for it.
‘I only use it for a couple of hours in the evening, but already it’s got wear showing and a crack in the leather on one side.
‘The funny thing is the crack on the arm is on the front of the chair, not where your arm goes. so you wouldn’t think it’d get any wear at all.
‘It’s not a major crack at the moment, but I’ve only had it 15 months and I was annoyed because it shouldn’t be there. You would have expected a chair to last a lot longer than that, and I wasn’t standing for it.
‘I went back to the SCS Waterlooville store to complain and they got in touch with La-Z-Boy, who told me about the charge over the phone.
‘The treatment I got from SCS, considering I’d been to them quite a few times to buy carpets and I’ve never had a complaint about furniture in my life, just wasn’t on at all. You’d expect at least five years life out of the chair.’
Albert is a regular reader of Streetwise, so he knew where to get help and advice. He emailed us to find out just what his legal rights were with faulty goods that don’t last as long as they should.
Albert’s concern is widely shared by readers who regularly ask the same question, but the answer is not at all plain or simple.
The 2015 Consumer Rights Act spells out people’s rights if goods are found to be faulty after they’ve bought them, but doesn’t specify how long they should last.
We first told Albert that when anything he buys goes wrong, it is always the shop or store that is responsible for putting things right, not the manufacturer. His issue was all down to SCS to sort out, despite the fact the 12-month guarantee had expired.
Just to add to potential confusion, there is a series of legal hoops to jump through, depending on precisely when goods don’t come up to scratch after purchase. If anything goes wrong within the first 30 days, then the buyer is home and dry with an automatic entitlement to a full refund or a replacement.
After six months the rules get far more complicated and it’s all down to the buyer to prove the goods are faulty and haven’t been misused. That’s probably why La-Z-Boy believed it was entitled to impose the £60 charge.
As for how long anything you buy should last, the law simply says goods should be durable. It’ll all boil down to the price, quality, reasonable expectation and usage.
That’s the law’s way of saying it’s anyone’s guess, but in the final analysis it’ll be down to a court to decide, taking into account all the relevant circumstances.
In Albert’s particular case, we were a little concerned that SCS may have given him the impression that the manufacturer’s £60 non-refundable charge was a barrier to exercising his right to complain about his faulty chair and get it fixed.
A significant number of complaints from readers to Streetwise about SCS have concerned the quality of American La-Z-Boy products.
They wanted to know why they had to pay a non-refundable fee to the firm for defects which should not have occurred in the first place.
After we got on to SCS and put Albert’s side of the story, the mood music changed. The company was anxious to allay his frustration about the charge and gave an assurance that, provided there was no evidence of misuse, it would be refunded and his recliner repaired.
There was no question of imposing a penalty for complaining about faulty products.
A spokesperson said: ‘As a business we pride ourselves on offering five-star rated customer service and we are committed to assisting our customers at every point of their journey with us, whether before, during or after making a purchase.
‘Therefore, in an effort to assist the customer, we can confirm that the charge would be payable to the supplier, on the strict understanding that should, after inspection and report, there deem to be any manufacturing faults with the goods, then the charge would be reimbursed and full rectification carried out.’
Having obtained the assurance, a grateful Albert agreed with La-Z-Boy to send a technician to inspect and fix his chair.
He said: ‘I’m sure if you hadn’t got on to them and questioned it, they wouldn’t have done anything until I’d handed them £60. Thank you so much for all your efforts.’
on my behalf.’