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What are my rights?

At some stage in our lives, most of us will find ourselves with a complaint about unsatisfactory goods or services. Some people find it easy to complain. For those who don’t, we inform you of your rights and gives tips on how to assert your rights as a consumer.

Complaining can be time-consuming and frustrating. If something you have bought turns out to be faulty or a service you have paid for is unsatisfactory, what will you do? In many cases, people are reluctant to complain. This may be because they are not sure of their rights, or they think it simply isn’t worth the hassle, or because they expect the retailer or trader concerned to fob them off with an excuse.

But if, for example, you have paid for goods in a shop, you have a contract with the retailer. If the goods are faulty or unfit for use, the retailer has broken his side of the contract and you are entitled to reject the goods but the retailer is entitled to attempt a repair as long as repair is “as permanent”.

Before complaining, ensure you know where you stand legally “Know your rights” but do not be too quick to quote your legal rights. Sometimes the light friendly touch will work better.

You should always complain as soon as possible after the problem is discovered. If you do not act within a reasonable time, it may appear that you have accepted the goods, defect and all. In this case, you may lose your right to reject the goods completely and seek a full refund. You may only be entitled to a partial refund or a repair.

There is no obligation on you to physically return faulty goods to the retailer. However, it is advisable to bring them back as soon as you discover a defect. If the goods are too heavy or awkward to transport, write to the shop manager to say you are dissatisfied with the product and ask him to arrange to collect it. Alternatively, you could offer to return goods by post if the shop agrees to refund the postage.

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