“I’ll discount it for the fault, but then you can’t return it for other faults”

“I’ll discount it for the fault, but then you can’t return it for other faults.”

It’s a common refrain in shops, especially during the sales. Yet, it’s simply not correct – however, unless you ensure that the RIGHT THING is written on the receipt, you may find it very difficult to exercise your legal rights.

I first wrote about this a few weeks ago when I tried to buy a jacket with a known faulty button and was told: "agree to the discount but then if anything else goes wrong with the jacket, you won’t be able to bring it back" (see the Shop staff quoted nonsense rights at me blog).

Yet it seems there’s still a lot of confusion about this, just take this discussion following my blog explaining the "This does not affect your statutory rights" rules.

"What about if the product is bought with a discount because it was already faulty, but then something different happens to the item which makes it even more faulty? In some stores they say after there has been a discount for the first fault the item is never refundable… is this true?"
"Yes, it’s a case of a "sold as seen" policy. By selling the item at a reduced rate and informing you of the 1st fault it voids the 12mth warranty as the product is already faulty. Effectively the discount gives you the money back to have it repaired and the shop still makes a sale."
"Really? So if you buy a discounted shirt because it’s missing a button but then you get home and you discover a tear (nothing to do with the button) it’s tough? That doesn’t sound qute right…?"

So let me try and clear this up with a few more details. But first, the basics …

  • You have legal rights if goods are faulty

    All goods must obey the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which, for memory ease, I call the SAD FART rules. All goods must be of …

    Satisfactory quality, ADescribed, Fit for purpose, And last a Reasonable length of Time.

    If not, they’re legally faulty and if you return them quickly enough you’ve a legal right to a FULL refund (for a full explanation of all the minutiae on this see the full Consumer Rights guide).

  • If you accept a discount for a specific fault, then it’s just that fault you can’t return it for

    Let me go back to my faulty jacket example. If I’d got a discount because the jacket had a faulty button, then that would have affected the ‘as described’ element. In other words this was a new jacket, with a faulty button.

    So, I couldn’t return the jacket due to the button fault. However, had anything else gone wrong with it, then it wouldn’t be satisfactory and I would’ve retained my rights.

    When you buy goods and are aware of a specific fault, you can’t then reject the goods for that fault but you still have your sale of goods rights with regards to any other faults."

Yet it seems while this is pretty clear cut, some stores don’t follow this as a matter of policy, here’s another quote from the discussion:

"Our store has this same policy whereby if the item is faulty and the customer accepts a discount for that fault then they can never bring it back even if something else goes wrong. I didn’t know this was wrong until now and have been working in the store for 3 years!"

This stance actually has a rather worrying evidential consequence and means you have to be careful.

  • Ensure you get the right thing written on the receipt

    Don’t just allow the store to write "faulty goods" on the receipt (both on your copy and theirs) as then, if it has a dodgy button but you take it back for a poor collar, you have no evidence of what the original fault was. So, ensure that you get the right thing written on the original receipt.