Know your consumer rights – Getting your money back and more…

logo for WhichIf you’re not sure about your rights as a consumer, you’re not alone. Very few of us know our legal rights inside out, it’s all so complicated. Looking into the fine detail, I’m actually surprised I’m entitled to fair treatment in such a broad range of circumstances.

How to take action and get fair treatment

How can you find out whether you can take action to get fair treatment? I love the Which website, one because it’s so clear and easy to find your way around, two because it’s written in plain English anyone can understand rather than baffling legalese, and three because I know I can trust Which, the consumer champion, to deliver the best advice every time.

Know your rights

They even have a Know Your Rights section, containing a wealth of excellent advice about stuff like what to do if you’ve been fooled by a fake product, had a flight delayed or are having problems with a payday lender. But they provide much more than advice. There’s even a series of pre-created letters you can download to send to offenders, saving you all sorts of time, hassle and, potentially, a fortune in disgracefully high solicitor fees.

There’s a search box so you can identify solutions to your problem quickly and easily. There’s a plain English section on consumer regulations and legislation, including the Sale of Goods Act and Distance Selling Regulations. Plus a load of totally brilliant step by step guides to help you get your complaints resolved, whether it’s dodgy builders or your bank.

In short, it’s an amazingly good resource for dedicated money savers. Here’s a link to the Which consumer rights pages

Getting your money back

Did you know that high street shops don’t have to take returns unless the thing you bought is faulty, not as described or not fit for the purpose it’s made for? Having said that, many shops take returns because it’s better for their brand than refusing. It might not be your legal right, but they might meet you half way anyway with a credit note, exchange or refund because it makes their lives easier and protects their reputation. Whatever your situation, it’s best to check the shop’s returns policy before buying.

Once you’ve checked your legal rights regarding returns on the Which site, how do you go about getting your money back?

Your first stop is the retailer who sold it to you in the first place. It’s important to be polite and calm, which oils the wheels much better than ranting and raving at some poor bugger who really isn’t paid enough to bear the brunt of your mood! Put yourself in their shoes, be persistent, polite and firm, and give them the chance to sort things out in a reasonable timescale.

If they don’t, head for the Which site to pin down your next steps.

Most places are perfectly reasonable about accepting returns. If you find one that isn’t, ask yourself honestly whether it’s actually you being unreasonable and if so, let it lie!