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Knowing your Rights

Friday, September 30, 2011
We all buy stuff . Did you know that as a consumer , there are certain rights you are entitled to? I find that in Jamaica we are not too keen on these rights ,.both the consumer and trader.

Any item you buy from a trader (eg shop or online shop) must be:
  • of satisfactory quality 
  • fit for purpose 
  • as described
If it isn’t, the item is faulty and you can usually get one of the following:
  • repair
  • replacement
  • refund
You may also have other rights depending on where you bought the item and how you paid for it.


Returning a faulty item

If something you bought is faulty, tell the trader as soon as possible. This may be by taking the item back to the shop or contacting the trader to let them know there is a problem.
You will need to provide a proof of purchase, eg a receipt or invoice. Some traders may accept a credit card bill or bank statement, eg if months have passed since you bought the item.
You can’t take back an item if you caused the fault. For example, if you dropped a mobile phone and cracked the screen or didn’t follow care instructions for clothes.

 A warranty gives you extra rights, eg to a repair or replacement when something goes wrong. Check the details of your policy to see if you can claim.

Refunds and faulty goods

A trader will usually offer you a refund for a faulty item if you:
  • have proof of purchase, eg a receipt
  • haven’t had a chance to use the item or have only used the item a few times
If you’ve had or used the item for a longer period of time, by law you have ‘accepted’ the goods. You won’t be entitled to a refund, but the trader should offer to repair or replace the item.
A repair must fix the original fault (eg a broken zip). If it doesn’t, you can then ask for either a refund or replacement.
You may need to get legal advice about whether you have accepted the goods.
For example, you probably wouldn’t have the right to a refund if you used a curling iron for months and the plates broke.
Each situation will be different, so it’s best to speak to the trader as soon as you discover the fault.

Repairs and replacements for faulty items

If a trader won’t give you a refund for a faulty item, they should usually offer to repair or replace the item for free. This may apply even if you’ve had good use out of the item. It depends on:

• what you paid for the item
• how long you’ve had it
• how long it’s expected to last
For example, if a fridge you bought for $750,000 broke after seven months, you would probably get a free repair. But if the same fridge broke after four years, you may have to pay towards the cost of a repair.
The law here is complex and you may need to get legal advice about whether the trader should offer to repair, replace or refund the item.
 

If a repair or replacement isn’t practical

A trader doesn’t have to offer you a replacement or repair if:
  • it’s too costly for the trader
  • it will take too long
  • it will cause you significant inconvenience, eg you’ll be without a phone for months
If this happens, the trader should either:
  • offer you a partial refund if you return the item (to allow for the use you’ve had from it)
  • let you keep the item and give you a reduction in price for the fault

Proving goods are faulty

If you bought the item within the last six months, it’s the trader’s responsibility to prove the item wasn’t faulty when you bought it.
If you bought your item over six months ago, you may have to prove the fault was not caused by accidental damage or wear and tear. You can do this by getting a second opinion from an independent expert.

These are some general and very basic rights that we are entitled to as consumers. Be sure to ask each store you go to their policies. And always keep your receipt.
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