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Tech Consumer Advice


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Is it possible to return working hardware bought face to face in a shop?


lbc

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I wanted to know the answer to this question while a 21 day return to shop agreement is still in place. It concerns a computer which my mother bought for herself in a computer shop (P.C. World), and so I don't know if the item would be returned anyway, as my mother may not care much.

But I wanted to know if the rights are there to return an item the consumer is not satisfied with, but where there is no actual fault in the item and it is in new condition and the working order as described in the sale.

I hunted around reviews to name a new desktop computer for my mother as she said she wanted a good one. I knew that computers get slow very quickly nowadays, and I wanted to avoid this as much as possible. I found a good Chillblast computer, at around £600, and Mum was going to buy it.

Though when I was away from visiting her, Mum decided that she didn't want to wait the 7 to 14 days for delivery and went along to a computer shop to select one to bring home immediately. Fine, I thought, but I didn't hold out hopes that the machine would be much good for heavy Web use and streaming HD video within 2 years or so.

My mother bought a Lenovo machine, H520s, with an intel i3 2120 processor (3.3. ghz with no power acceleration) without a 3rd party graphics processor, it's an intel chipset. The i3 processor has very good reviews in itself, but is quite old now, a couple of generations pre-Sandy Bridge I think.

Out of the box, it seemed to work well. As always, the HD video screensaver is impressive and, as with previous computers leads one to believe video will be smooth and fast. (Which never lasted long.) And it was, Vimeo running HD easily and nicely.

But, within a week, with 5 or a few more Internet Explorer windows open, standard definition Youtube videos can buffer 10 seconds at a time and play, and then wait while the circle goes around in the middle, and buffer a bit more, and so on.

So I wonder how the machine will cope with 1080p video in 2 years time.

Just in case my mother would agree to returning the machine for a refund, is this possible.

I have read the receipt from P.C. World which states any item can be returned if working, just if you change your mind, within 21 days - as long as it is completely unopened and in the original, fully sealed packaging. Of course, it's not.

How can you try a machine and return it, if this condition is the only way to return goods which aren't actually faulty. I can't claim the machine is faulty, it would meet its description and is in working order. I only sugest that it isn't right to purchase for the purpose, and due to trying the machine, this has been discovered, and a different machine would be preferred. After all, it's a purchase for an item intended to last at least 3 years, perhaps 4 and a bit more.

This article says that insisting goods can be returned only if sealed and untried can be in breach of the buyer's right to inspect or assess a product. However, I think the article is only about distance purchases:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19910561

Does anyone know if there are any rights for a buyer who buys face to face in a shop? At the end of the day, there really isn't much difference between buying online and in a computer shop where a full computer is concerned. Because both are in a very similar position as neither will really give a good opportunity to try to see if a desktop PC is suitable for some persons' needs - that takes a good amount of time - perhaps a few days.

If you know about the rights of returning after trial or any rights of return from a shop, please answer.

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Forum Editor

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If the computer is working properly, and is 'as described' in any shop poster or specification card displayed the retailer is under no obligation to accept a return.

Some shops operate a goodwill policy where unwanted gifts are concerned, especially around Christmas time, but they do that purely to get people to buy in the first place. Even then, goods must be unused, and in the original packaging.

The seven day return rule applies to distance selling only.

Marg7's comment about YouTube buffering is valid - it's caused by bandwidth issues, not by the computer.

The machine your mother bought is generally a solid performer, and has been well reviewed, although its small form factor is going to limit future expansion options.

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woodchip

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Your best bet would be to take it back with all packaging and till receipt Explain to the Manager, and not in aggressive words that you would like a better PC he may do that if he is not selling at a lose

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lbc

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Thanks for the help. I know where we stand about the computer. Sale over and done with, like it or not, like the item or not. Much, much better to buy things online. Coping with parcelling something for return and bringing a heavy item to a post office should be considered no bother, the only option.

It's something important which ought to be known.

I think that consumers should be advised by advice bureaus, and the government, and so on that they ought to ...

  1. Ask themselves if they feel they are pretty sure about a piece of hardware in the shop or wonder if they really need to check it out in use at home.

  2. If they aren't completely sure and think they need to try - to state clearly to the shop (ask to speak to the manager if necessary) that they really need to find out if this is the item for them. And ask, therefore, if it would be possible to return for a refund with an agreed time if it turns out not to tick all the boxes which are needed for a machine to be used over the course of the next few years.

I think, at least then you will know if the sale is final or not. Because you will leave the shop in any case not having tried the machine to your satisfaction, even if there is a display and try model.

Some shops will give you a few days or a week. But consumers need to know they would have to ask for this, agree it, take the name of the salesperson or manager, or ask them to write a little note for them.


Thanks for the advice about bandwidth, though I'm really not so sure. The broadband connection is fibre optic, fast, and faster than city averages for fibre optic broadband (checking online comparison tables and maps which test broadband connection first). The router from the modem is N, 300 mbps. The problem with the Youtube videos came, incidentially, in the middle of the night, after 3 a.m., weekday night, when there would be low Web use.

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lbc

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Another thing to be aware of -

if you want to avoid delivery charges, good advice for places which offer store pick up would be to order and pay online, and select to pick up at store. You would then have the benefit of the distance selling regulations allowing you to check out the hardware and return it for any reason.

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Forum Editor

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"I think that consumers should be advised by advice bureaus, and the government, and so on...."

Surely it's commonsense to make your own judgements about the suitability of an expensive item before buying it? You shouldn't expect the government, or anyone else for that matter, to have to tell people how to buy something in a shop.

If you buy something and then decide you don't want it you must accept responsibility for your own actions. Asking a shop manager if you can return an item you don't like is something you can decide to do yourself - again, there shouldn't be any need for the government to get involved.

As for your comment that you're using YouTube "in the middle of the night, after 3 a.m., weekday night, when there would be low Web use." I'm not sure why you would think that. In the Far East they are going full blast at that time - it's almost the middle of their business day, and in America it's around 8:00 in the evening - a time of huge bandwidth consumption, especially on YouTube.

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Armchair

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I bought some 2.1 PC speakers from Argos a few years ago. I tried them out for a week, decided they sounded a bit 'boomy', and took them back for a refund. They weren't faulty, I was just used to using stereo speakers. No quibbles or fuss, refund given.

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Forum Editor

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Armchair

Some companies will do this, as I said, but you can't rely on it. Those decisions tend to be made on the fly, and depend on individual circumstances.

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HondaMan

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Extract from PCW's T&Cs

You have changed your mind?

If you change your mind and would like to return your product, we're happy to exchange or refund it as long as:

The product is in its original unopened and sealed packaging
You return it within 21 days of date of purchase
You have proof of purchase (Original receipt, delivery note, bank statement)

How do I return my product?

Store: If you need to have your product collected (if it's too big or heavy to return to store) please call our Contact Centre on 08445 61 12 34 and we will assist you.

Phone: If you need to have your product collected (if it's too big or heavy to return to store) please call our Contact Centre on 08445 61 12 34 and we will assist you.

Exchange/Refund: We will then give you an exchange or full refund plus any delivery charge paid. However, we do have the right to retain any charge paid for services which have already begun or have been completed.

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lbc

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(Forum Editor:)

"Surely it's commonsense to make your own judgements about the suitability of an expensive item before buying it? You shouldn't expect the government, or anyone else for that matter, to have to tell people how to buy something in a shop."

I disagree entirely.

There are shops which clearly say "you can return for any reason or no reason, simply if you are not completely satisfied, with x days, and we will refund or exchange as you wish".

Nearly all shops say something like that and that they will accept items back.

I just think most people DO NOT KNOW that this means that they must keep the item in the box and NEVER **ING OPEN IT UP, in order to be eligible to return it.

How the hell are they going to know if they are satisfied or not, or will be, even after one solitary hour of trying the item. As soon as the tape comes off the box, the return agreement is relinquished.

So, what on earth is the point of such an agreement? TO FOOL CONSUMERS, CLEARLY.

How many people - come on, now, rack your brain, be honest - how many people are going to want to return a brand new item they think, hope and wish will be everything the shop and manufacturer claims (lower priced hardware rarely is), simply by buying it boxed, putting the box on the table, and sitting and looking it for 20 days and dreaming? Nearly none. The return agreement is nearly totally irrelevant, but for gifts for other people that the person gifting hasn't warned or consulted the recipient about. Or where the buyer buys for himself but can't really afford it, or bought on impulse and decides he just bought something to make him feel good and hasn't tried the item.

That return warranty is just nearly completely pointless. But I reckon actually that most people DO NOT REALISE that the return to store if you are not completely satisfied agreement EXCLUDES FOREVER the possibility of finding out if you can be even remotely satisfied. Because after the scissors hit the box tape, the 7 /14 /21 day warranty is all over and done with, finished, kaput, null and void.

To me this is the most senseless thing.

And websites and government info and Which guides etc. are full of info telling people about rights when buying online etc. which does include the right to return if not satisfied after checking the item out for a good amount of time.

People can easily believe that buying face to face in a shop, with what to me is a con - the return to store if not satisfied (if you never try it to find out) is the same as the distance selling regulations.

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lbc

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(Armchair:)

"I bought some 2.1 PC speakers from Argos a few years ago. I tried them out for a week, decided they sounded a bit 'boomy', and took them back for a refund. They weren't faulty, I was just used to using stereo speakers. No quibbles or fuss, refund given."

I've had similar experiences with Argos. (This isn't electronica...) One time I'd bought a Carl Lewis home rowing machine which the description claimed had a high resistance level included, but which offered nearly no resistance when I put it up, at the highest setting. Like trying to cycle down a steep hill.

When I brought it back and explained, the woman in the Argos shop said that they gave the description from the manufacturer, and that they would accept it back but said to me that that decision was discretionary and that legally they were not bound to accept that item in the circumstances. As it was their opinion that the item was not faulty. That told me that they were familiar with the particular item, if they thought it wasn't faulty by my particular description, and their discretionary acceptance was really doing what they knew was right and the only appropriate thing.

However, you can't rely on Argos (or other shop) descriptions. I once bought a Kodak Easyshare digital camera from Argos, which I really liked and wanted to keep. However, I'd bought it over other items because the Argos catalogue described the camera as being "waterproof" - more than just splashproof, which was only included on digital cameras about £50 more expensive. I was looking for a camera to take pictures and good VGA video when kayaking, which would involved splashes. When I unboxed the camera, I checked all the literature and Kodak said nothing about being either splashproof or waterproof. I checked other sellers online and none made the claim in the Argos catalogue of a waterproof camera. I then phoned Kodak with the support number given, and the Kodak employee was kind of laughing, saying this was a complete misdescription. He said your included camera warranty would not even cover the camera if brining it out in sudden light drizzle rain - the camera model was not claimed to hold out any moisture whatsoever and instructions were never to use it near moisture.

Argos accepted all of this was true when I returned the camera (a very good camera, though), as was their legal responsibility.

I've had terrible times with Argos though, on other occasions and I don't go near them now. I had experiences of extreme personal vindictiveness from Argos.

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