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The customer is always right

Returning faulty goods

We are told that customer service employees pride themselves on the adage that ‘the customer is always right’. Yet when it comes to returning faulty goods, it appears this saying does not always ring true.

The UK has had legislation protecting consumer rights since the 70s and although most Jersey shops followed the same practice as England, it was not law before 2009.  Thankfully, Jersey finally abandoned its reliance on customary law and recognised the need for a statute setting out consumer rights. This protection is to be found in the Supply of Goods and Services (Jersey) Law, 2009.

What does this Law mean for the consumer?

Let’s take a very basic example; the purchase of a new pair of shoes!  The shoes are a new type of shoe that cost a small fortune. You have maxed your credit card to buy them, but at least they look good. On their first outing your ‘killer heels’ almost literally kill you as the right heel snaps off. You hobble to a nearby bench and discover that the heel of the left shoe has fine cracks in exactly the same place. Clearly there is a fault, but what rights do you have?

In a nutshell, the Law states that you have the right to receive goods that are of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. Clearly your shoes are not fit to walk on, so you should go back to the shop.  The Law states that you have the right to demand that the shop does one of the following;

  • repair the shoes (provided it is proportionate to do so); or
  • replace them; (provided it is proportionate to do so); or
  • ask for a discount or complete refund for them.

The shop will require proof that you bought the shoes from them. Producing your receipt proves that you made a contract with the shop, but what if you have thrown the receipt away? If this happens, you can use your credit card bill as evidence that you purchased the shoes from the shop.

Any attempt by the shop to direct you to the manufacturer is not appropriate and you should not accept it. Your contract is with the shop and your rights of recourse are against them, not the manufacturer.  It will be for the shop to take up their cause with the manufacturer, not you.

Even though this Law may make little practical difference to some retailers who have already voluntarily adopted this policy, at least with the introduction of the Supply of Goods and Services (Jersey) Law, 2009, we can walk into any Jersey retailer, comfortable in the knowledge that even when we are demanding recourse for our faulty goods, we are within our rights to do so!

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