Life & Culture

Help, my son’s laptop is faulty

Our personal finance expert has some advice for a reader who wants a refund on a Chanukah present


How can you get a refund on your broken computer?

Q I bought my son a laptop as a Chanukah present and it was broken and wouldn’t switch on when we took it out of the box. I took it back to the shop and the manager said he wanted to take it in for testing and to fix it rather than giving me a refund or replacement computer. Can he do that?

AIt depends on how long ago you bought the computer. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, if you take the item back to the shop you bought it from within 30 days, you are entitled to a immediate full refund if that is what you want. If you take it back between 30 days and six months you are entitled to a full refund only if the item cannot be fixed or replaced. The legislation then says you have up to six years to ask for a partial refund if you believe the goods have not lasted “a reasonable length of time”. It sounds like you bought the computer over a month ago, which is why the retailer wants the opportunity to fix or replace it. But either way, the law means your son will end up with a working laptop.

You don’t say how you paid for the laptop, but if you used your credit card you could enlist your bank’s help under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (or the Chargeback scheme for a debit card), which makes it jointly liable with the retailer if things go wrong.

More widely, the Consumer Rights Act stipulates goods, both physical and digital, and services must be:

* Fit for purpose. They should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.

* As described. They must match any description given to you, or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase.

* Of satisfactory quality. Goods shouldn’t be faulty or damaged when you receive them. You’ll need proof of purchase to make a claim, and the contract is with the original purchaser, not the recipient.

Running alongside this Act is the Consumer Contract Regulations, which covers goods and services, including digital downloads, bought at a distance. This means items bought from home online, over the phone, from a catalogue or face-to-face with a visiting salesperson. This gives you the right to cancel, without reason, an item up to 14 days after receiving it. There are a few exceptions such as perishable goods and items that have been personalised. Digital purchases also have slightly different rules as you may  be entitled to a partial refund only within 30 days of purchase, and you can also claim for any damage the content has caused to your device. If you are buying a service, the supplier must adhere to the reasonable rules or fall foul of the Act. These require the service to be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and at a reasonable price.

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