Do you think you have a case to bring a product liability claim to court because you have suffered a personal injury due to faulty goods?
The ‘Sale of Goods’ Act in the U.K. is very precise in defining the consumer’s rights upon purchasing any kind of consumer goods, from household gadgets and pharmaceutical products to engines and engine parts.
According to this act, all goods that are sold should be ‘of satisfactory quality, as described and fit the purpose’. If the item that you’ve purchased develops any sort of fault, your consumer rights entitle you to return it and get your money back or you can choose to have it repaired or replaced.
When Is A Product Considered Defective?
A product is considered defective if at the time of purchase, it falls short of the legitimate expectations of the person buying it. This clause takes into consideration the manner in which the item was marketed and the purpose for which it was meant to be used, as well as any warnings or instructions that accompanied the product at the time of purchase.
Conditions Under Which You Are Entitled To A Full Refund
According to the terms of the ‘Sale of Goods’ Act, anything you purchase from a trader must meet these 3 qualifications:
- It must be of satisfactory quality
- It must match the stated description
- It must fit the purpose it is marketed for
If the purchased product does not meet any one of these criteria, you have the right to return it and get your money back in full. This is known as a ‘full refund’.
If an item that is custom made for you does not meet the agreed upon specifications, you are still within your rights to return it for a full refund. This could apply to things such as a bespoke garment in the wrong fabric or a different colour or even customized furniture for the home.
If the goods were bought in instalments or in batches, and some of them are faulty, you can accept the ones that are okay and send back the faulty ones. You do not need to send them all back unless they are part of a set and the defective pieces compromise the set.
Conditions Under Which You Are Not Entitled To A Full Refund
If the product is faulty but it was bought a long time ago or was used a lot or changed in some way, you may not have the right to a full refund. Under these circumstances, you may be entitled to a partial refund or you may be offered a replacement or the option to get the item repaired instead.
If you agree to a repair or replacement, find out who is responsible for bearing the delivery costs and for making sure the goods do not get damaged in transit.
What To Do When You Discover The Fault
As soon as you realise that the product is faulty, it is important to stop using it immediately and inform the trader about it, immediately. The sooner you contact the trader the better your chances of getting a full refund on the goods.
Take the item along with the proof of purchase to the place where you bought it and speak to the highest authority there – either the owner or the manager of the establishment. If you cannot take it back either because the item is too large to be posted back or it was bought online or by mail order, it is still important to initiate your faulty product claim by contacting the trader and informing them.
Sending an email is the best way to let the trader know about your concerns as it helps maintain a record of the communication back and forth and you in effect get a written confirmation of what is agreed upon.
In certain circumstances you can also claim ‘compensation for consequential loss’. This entitles you to claim additional compensation for having to repair or replace other goods that may have been damaged by the faulty product such as a faulty washing machine that may have ruined your clothes.
Time Limitations For Faulty Product Claims
The right to faulty product liability claims lasts for just enough time after the item is purchased for you to be able to examine and try it out to ensure that all is as it should be. This window can be very short – may be just a couple of weeks.
It is important to inform the trader about any fault as soon as you find out about it. The process moves along most smoothly if the item happens to be within the warranty period.