Victory! Currys ditches absurd 48hr return policy for broken goods and admits it was ‘confusing’ customers
Currys has been forced to ditch a controversial rule that gave customers just 48 hours to return damaged goods.
In a victory for Money Mail, which exposed the retailer’s policy last year, the firm admitted it was ‘confusing’ customers.
The move could open the floodgates to claims from customers who were refused refunds.
According to consumer law, shoppers have 30 days to return goods that are faulty or broken.
Unfair and confusing: Currys has ditched its policy that gave customers just 48 hours to return damaged goods
But the returns policy on the Currys website stated: ‘If you unpack your product and find it damaged or incorrect, you can return or exchange the product within 48 hours of purchase or delivery.’
The retailer used this to reject requests for refunds if the customer complained more than two days after delivery.
Some shoppers were fobbed off with a 10 per cent discount instead of a full refund.
Money Mail handed the firm a dossier of complaints from customers left out of pocket because they hadn’t opened and inspected goods quickly enough.
Some were on holiday or working away from home when their goods were delivered, while others were decorating and didn’t open boxes containing TVs or fridges until the work was finished.
As a result, the damage was only discovered up to two weeks after the goods arrived.
Customers queried why the store’s policy appeared to contradict consumer law.
Under the Consumer Rights Act, you have 30 days to return faulty goods for a full refund. And after 30 days you are still entitled to a repair or replacement.
If you shop online, you get extra protection under the Consumer Contract Regulations, which state that you can return goods within 14 days of receiving them — even if they aren’t faulty.
When Money Mail first contacted Currys, it said 48 hours was ‘a reasonable period for people to inspect what they’ve bought’. But when we put all the cases to the retailer, it decided to ditch the policy entirely.
A spokesman for the business explained that Currys used to differentiate between ‘damaged’ and ‘faulty’.
Faulty meant the product didn’t work, whereas damage covered cosmetic occurrences such as a dent or scratch.
The spokesman said: ‘Our 48-hour advice has only ever applied to ‘damaged’.
‘However, going forward, we will be removing all reference to 48 hours as soon as possible.’
Carys Murphy, a solicitor at Slater and Gordon in Cardiff, says: ‘It appears that Currys completely misunderstood the law or was attempting to prevent customers from pursuing refunds they were entitled to.
‘In my view, this was a clear breach of consumer law.’
Chris Haan, a solicitor at Leigh Day in London, says: ‘We believe that Currys’ policy was potentially unlawful and it had to be changed to ensure it was not in breach of the Consumer Rights Act.’
U-turn: When Money Mail first contacted Currys, it said 48 hours was ‘a reasonable period for people to inspect what they’ve bought’. But when we put all the cases to the retailer, it decided to ditch the policy
Keith Mansfield, 64, had to fight for two months to get a damaged freezer replaced last year. He’d purchased it online in October, but was working away from home when it was delivered.
When he unpacked it five days later, he found one of the screws holding the handle in place had snapped off in the door.
Keith complained to Currys, but was told repeatedly he couldn’t have a replacement as he had failed to report the fault within 48 hours of delivery.
In an email, a customer service representative said: ‘We are sorry we are unable to exchange your freezer. We need to know of any physical damage to a product within 48 hours of delivery, and this is noted on our website’.
Keith, an accountant living in Pembrokeshire, says: ‘The delivery guys were supposed to unpack the freezer and take away the packaging, which they didn’t do. If they had, they would have noticed the damage.
‘I know my rights. Freezers are supposed to last for eight to ten years, so the 48-hour rule is nonsense.’
Keith exchanged emails with Currys for two months and finally persuaded them to send him a new freezer on December 30.
In another case seen by Money Mail, Currys refused to replace a broken television.
The customer was decorating his lounge and hadn’t discovered the screen was cracked until he took it out of the box two weeks later. It took weeks of wrangling by phone before the shop would back down.
Another customer was told that he couldn’t exchange his faulty printer a week after buying it ‘due to policy’.
Both Carys Murphy, at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, and Chris Haan, at Leigh Day, say customers who were refused a refund by Currys in the past might now be able to challenge the decision.
Customers will need to prove they first complained within 30 days of discovering the fault.
Those previously refused an exchange or who complained after 30 days should be entitled to a repair or replacement item.
Ms Murphy says complain initially in writing to Currys. If refused, complain to Citizens Advice on 03454 040 506. It will refer the details to your local Trading Standards officers.
- Have you been told you have only a short window to return damaged or faulty goods? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.