The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is hard at work, it would seem. The CCPC recently published a notice of enforcement action it took against a Dublin retailer, in relation to a sign the trader had displayed regarding a policy of no refunds, with exchange of goods allowed for within 24 hours of purchasing, and only with a receipt. According to the CCPC, this was in breach of consumer law.
So what does this law entail exactly?
The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 gives consumers the right to a full refund, repair, replacement or a reduction in price in the event of goods being unfit for purpose, not being as described, or if they aren’t of ‘merchantable quality’ – in cases where the consumer is not at fault. And, according to the Act, it is an offence to display or provide a statement, advertisement or any other document that suggests a restriction of a consumer’s rights under this law – businesses can’t simply limit customers’ rights simply because they feel like it.
In cases where you simply have a change of mind, consumer law offers no protection (though when buying online you can avail of a 14-day cooling off period). While a shop may accept your return as a gesture of goodwill, they’re under no obligation to do so.
“The CCPC formed the view that the sign suggested to consumers that their statutory rights were restricted. Under consumer law a consumer has rights, including a right to reject the goods and obtain a full refund, if an item that they purchase is faulty,” the CCPC said in a statement concerning its ruling. “Traders cannot restrict those rights. Furthermore, businesses are not permitted to set a time limit on returning faulty goods. As a result, the CCPC issued a Compliance Notice directing the company to cease displaying statements that could mislead consumers as to their rights.”