Knowing your rights . . . and some tips on how to be the best consumer you can be

Published date12 July 2021
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
But not a week goes by without us getting at least one email or message from someone who doesn't quite grasp how the law works for and against them and what steps - if any - they might be able to take to seek redress when they think they have been wronged.

The lack of accurate information can often see people fly off the handle with the wrong people at the wrong time and without any possible hope of a successful outcome. Similarly, it can also lead to people accepting a situation they do not have to accept.

Last week alone we got three such mails. There was one from a reader who had been bamboozled by a retailer who claimed it had absolutely no responsibility to help him get a dishwasher fixed on the grounds that it was just over two years old and, as a result, out of warranty. He was told that his only option was to deal directly with the manufacturer.

We also heard from another reader who was pretty annoyed that a retailer would not allow her swap one dress for a slightly different dress, in what she thought was a clear and flagrant breach of her rights as a consumer.

And then there was the message from someone who was fuming because an online retailer had refused to honour the sale price of an item on the grounds that it had been priced in error and had been mistakenly "sold" for less than 50 per cent of its actual price.

We also heard from someone who had a legitimate complaint and who was threatening to go to the "Consumer Association" for redress.

To deal with the first of those last. While there is a Consumers' Association of Ireland, and although it certainly does have a role in our society, it has neither the capacity nor the legal authority nor the will to intervene on behalf of individual consumers who are struggling to get redress.

And now on to the others. A retailer is not obliged to sell a product at a listed price if that price is wrong.

Even if payment has been accepted online, a retailer can cancel the sale if a product has been priced in error on the basis that the contract that has been put in place was flawed from the get-go.

Nor does a retailer have to give a customer an exchange.

Many will do that without delay but the reality is there is no law that says a customer has a right to a refund or an exchange unless there is something wrong with the product or if it is not as advertised.

And finally, there is widespread confusion amongst consumers and shops about warranties and guarantees and consumer rights and who has to deal with who...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT