Rights & Remedies
The consumer has a number of rights in the event of a breach of the implied terms and conditions in the contract for the sale of goods. See the separate article on the implied terms and conditions on the sale of which are mandatory and cannot be contracted out. In this context, conforming to the contract means compliance with the contract including compliance with the the implied terms and conditions.
When the consumer has a right to reject he may choose to reject the goods and terminate the contracts which thereby terminates. The consumer must indicate to the trader that he is rejecting the goods and treating the contract as an end. As long as the meaning is clear, the format in which it is given does not matter.
When the right to reject is exercised by the consumer, the trader has the duty to refund the customer and the consumer must make the goods available for collection by the trader, or if agreed return the rejected goods to the trader.
The reasonable cost of returning rejected goods to the trader, except where the consumer returns the goods in person to where he obtained physical possession of them, is to be borne by the trader. This includes the trader paying postal costs and applies regardless of whether the consumer has agreed to return the goods. This right does not prevent a consumer from claiming damages, for example, for returning the goods to a place where he obtained them, incurring the cost and so doing.
Where a refund is to be provided and the original payment was in money, the consumer is entitled to money back. The trader may not give credit notes, vouchers etc. (other than with the consumer’s specific agreement). If the goods were not paid for by money, the consumer is not entitled to money back but to the refund is returned of whatever the consumer gave in exchange.
If this cannot be returned to the consumer due to the nature of the exchange, then the consumer may not demand a refund but may claim damages.Where the goods were paid partly in money and partly otherwise, such as by way of voucher, the consumer is entitled to a refund of money paid and return of the other property transferred if possible. The consumer may have a right to damages for loss.
In the case of hired goods, the consumer may claim a refund of money paid for the period of hire due prior to the contract being terminated. The consumer may have a right to damages for compensation for a part of the hire charges during the period when the goods were faulty but prior to rejection. In this case, the consumer may claim damages. In the case of contracts other than contracts for hire where goods are paid for over time, the claim for refund can only be made in respect of money already paid.
A trader must provide a refund due to the consumer without undue delay and in any event within 14 days from when the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to it. This may, for example, commence only when the trader has had a reasonable time to check the goods and verify the fault.
If however, the breach is apparent and immediately obvious, the consumer is entitled to an immediate refund. The trader may not postpone the refund by undertaking unnecessary time-consuming tests et cetera. Where the consumer paid money under the contract, a refund must be given in the same form as the original payment.
The consumer may reject goods if the wrong quantity is delivered. If he chooses to accept the goods, he must pay the contract rate for what he receives. If more than the contract amount was delivered, the consumer may keep the contracted amount and reject the excess. This does not necessarily terminate the contract. This is determined by general principles of contract law.
The consumer is not required to accept delivery by installments unless he has agreed to it. If he does not agree and one or more deliveries is defective, then depending on the circumstances, the consumer may have a right to damages or to reject the goods and the installment or treat the whole contract as terminated. Which of these rights applies depends on the particular circumstances and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
There may be a right to reject one installment of the goods or part of the goods, where the contract is intended to be divisible so that different parts of the price can be assigned to different parts of the goods or performance whether pro rata or per unit. This so is irrespective of whether they were supplied together or over a period.
Where the contract is severable and the trader is in default of his statutory obligations, the consumer has the right to reject those goods and effectively terminate that part of the contract. It is then a question of interpretation in the circumstances as to whether the consumer may or may not reject other goods and effectively terminate the whole contract.
The consumer may have a right to reject goods because some or all of them do not conform to the contract. He may reject some or all of them in this case. If the consumer rejects some only, he may not reject the goods that do conform.
The consumer may
- reject all of the goods conforming or non-conforming.
- reject all of the non-conforming goods but none of the conforming goods, or
- reject some of the non-conforming goods and keep some of the non-conforming goods and all of the conforming goods.
If the consumer has the right to reject an installment because some or all of them did not conform with the contract, then the consumer can reject some or all of the goods in the installment. If the consumer rejects some of the goods, he cannot reject any of the goods in the installment which do conform to the contract.
The contract may be severable i.e. is interpreted as comprised of distinct parts. The consumer may reject the goods supplied under one part of the contract because they did not conform. If the consumer chooses to reject some only, he cannot reject any of those which do conform.
Where goods form part of a commercial unit, the consumer may not reject some of the goods in that unit but keep others. A unit is a commercial unit if its division would materially impair the value of the goods or the character of the unit.
Short Term Right To Reject
There is a short-term right to reject goods which do not conform of at least 30 days. This does not apply to perishable goods which would not reasonably be expected to last longer than 30 days. The right to reject lasts only for as long as would be reasonable to expect those goods to last.
The 30-day period begins on the latest of the date when the consumer
- obtains ownership or
- in the case of hire purchase or conditional sale possession
- when the goods have been delivered
- if applicable the trader has notified the consumer that any actions required before the goods may be used has been completed by the trader, e.g. installation.
The 30-day period does not run during any repair or replacement waiting period. On the return of the goods, the consumer has the remainder of the 30-day period or seven days whichever is longer, in which to exercise the short-term right to reject the goods.
The waiting period starts on the day the consumer requests a repair or replacement and on the date that the consumer receives the repaired or replacement goods.
The consumer has a right to insist on repair or replacement of faulty goods at the trader’s cost. This includes the cost of removable of the item and reinstallation of replacement. A replacement will usually need to be identical of the same make and model. If the goods are brought new then the replacement should be new.
Once the consumer has opted for repair or replacement, he may not ask for the other or exercise the short-term right to reject.
He must allow the trader a reasonable time to complete the chosen remedy. However, if waiting a reasonable period would cause the consumer significant inconvenience, then the consumer may pursue an alternative remedy without doing so.
The consumer may have a right to a reduction of the price or to reject the goods, a partial refund or complete refund. This is available generally if the repair or replacement has not been possible or has not corrected the fault.
- repair or replacement was impossible
- if the consumer’s goods continue to be substandard after the goods have either already undergone one repair or replacement or
- where the consumer sought a repair or replacement but this was not carried out within a reasonable time or without significant inconvenience to the consumer,
then the consumer may either keep the goods and insist on a price reduction or reject the goods and obtain a refund. Thus may in some circumstances be subject to deduction to take account of the consumers use of the goods.
If the consumer chooses to keep the goods and require a reduction of what is appropriate, the amount of the reduction depends on the circumstances and the remaining functionality of the goods. The reduction in price should reflect a difference in value between what the consumer paid for and the value of what he actually received. It could be a full refund or a refund of monies already paid.
If the trader is required to provide a refund because the consumer has paid more than the reduced price, the refund must be provided to the consumer without undue delay and at the latest within 14 days from when the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to it. While the consumer paid money under the contract, the refund must be given in the same form.
If the right to reject is exercised within six months of delivery of the goods or if later, the transfer of ownership or the trader having completed notified the customer of any required action, the trader must generally give the consumer a full refund.
After the first six months, the trader may apply a reduction to the refund to account for the use the consumer has had. This does not apply in the case of a motor vehicle. The deduction for use may be made within the first six months in this case. There is provision for an order by the Ssecretary of State amending the provisions in respect to goods described where there is a significant detriment to traders.
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