As we approach the festive period and the frenzy of the last minute splurges associated with Christmas it is important to be aware of your rights as consumer both prior to purchase and later should any issues arise. The primary legislation governing Consumer Law in Ireland is the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act 1890.Under the Act anything which you purchase from a retailer must be: of merchantable quality fit for its normal purpose, and reasonably durable as described, whether the description is part of the advertising or wrapping, on a label, or something said by the salesperson.
On the purchase of goods from a retailer a contract is entered into by both parties. A contract is made up of terms which may either be express or implied. Whilst a written contract is always clearer an oral contract is nonetheless enforceable in law. Any term which is in a contract must be fair and clear to the consumer. Should your purchase transpire to be faulty through no fault of your own then you are entitled to a refund, replacement or a repair. In such circumstances you do not have to accept a credit note as most retail outlets will try to press on you in order to avoid the loss of revenue. There may be signs displayed in the store such as ‘No Returns’ however if you have a genuine complaint then you are still fully entitled to a refund. However if you simply want to return the goods then the retailer is entitled to insist on a credit note only.
In order to avail of the protection afforded under the 1890 Act then first of all you must meet the requirement of actually being a consumer. The general definition of a consumer is a natural person who buys goods or a service for personal use or consumption from someone whose business it is to sell goods or provide services. Therefore if you receive goods as a gift or buy goods for commercial purposes then you are not a consumer.
Remember that regardless of whether you buy goods in a sale or for full price your rights as a consumer remain the same. If you were to purchase goods at a discounted rate due to the fact that such goods are spoiled in some way and this was brought to your attention on purchase then you will not have grounds for redress.
Whilst there is legislation in place to protect the consumer if you wish to return goods which you believe are either faulty or misleading then you should take care to act as soon as possible and avoid any delay. You should not attempt to repair the item yourself as the retailer will be entitled to refuse to refund or replace the items in these circumstances. Finally always ensure that you have retained proof of purchase.
For further information please contact Joe or Daragh at Hassett Considine Solicitors LLP, 9 Carmody Street Business Park, Ennis, Co. Clare (065-6865480) or 19 Kilrush Town Centre, Kilrush, Co. Clare (065-901588).