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Consumer Conflict. Unit 1 – Chapter 2. The Consumer. A consumer is a person who buys goods or services for his/her own use, not for resale. This transaction involves rights, responsibilities and remedies, which are set out in law. Caveat Emptor. “ Let the buyer beware”

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consumer conflict

Consumer Conflict

Unit 1 – Chapter 2

the consumer
The Consumer
  • A consumer is a person who buys goods or services for his/her own use, not for resale.
  • This transaction involves rights, responsibilities and remedies, which are set out in law.
caveat emptor
Caveat Emptor

“Let the buyer beware”

Though consumers have legal protection against faults, it is clearly better to avoid these problems by using common sense

  • Research the range of products available.
  • Compare the prices and quality of alternatives.
  • Read the brochures carefully, including the small print.
  • Ask relevant questions to find out about the product.
non legislative resolution
Non-Legislative Resolution

Steps involved in resolving conflicts in a non-legislative manner

  • Know you rights:
    • Always ne aware of your rights as a consumer and try to deal with people in a conciliatory and friendly manner, even when you feel you have been badly treated.
  • Make contact:
    • Make contact with the retailer in person, by telephone or by email.
  • Make an appointment:
    • Make an appointment to see a representative of customer services. Use this meeting to discuss the situation and come to an acceptable solution
  • Negotiate Compromise:
    • If necessary, negotiate a compromise solution that is acceptable to both
  • Third party:
    • If direct negotiation is unsuccessful, seek advice from, or the services of, an independent third party such as the Consumer Association.
solving conflicts in a legislative manner
Solving Conflicts in a Legislative Manner

In Irish law there are two main pieces of legislation designed to protect the consumer:

  • Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980
  • The Consumer Information Act 1978
sale of goods and supply of services act
Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act

Implied Conditions:

  • The following conditions are implied in all contracts for the sale of goods or supply of services. This means they are automatically included in the contract and cannot be excluded by retailers.
    • Merchantable Quality: Goods sold must be of merchantable quality.
    • Correspond to Description: Goods sold by description must correspond to the description.
    • Correspond to Sample: The bulk of goods sold by sample must correspond to the sample.
    • Fit for Purpose: The goods must be fit for the purpose intended by the buyer.
    • Services: When provided, must be provided by persons with the necessary skills, carried out with skill and diligence, any materials used must be of merchantable quality.
sale of goods and supply of services act1
Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act

Redress:

  • Choice of Remedy: If a consumer has a valid complaint, she has a choice of remedy, i.e. Repair, replacement, refund.
  • Signs Limiting Liability: Signs that suggest that the consumer does not have a choice of remedy are illegal.
  • Loss of Rights: The consumer can lose the right to a choice of redress if she does not act reasonably promptly after discovering the fault or if she delays in examining the goods.
  • No Redress: The consumer is not entitled to any redress if she has simply changed her mind or if she caused the fault herself.
sale of goods and supply of services act2
Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act

Unsolicited Goods:

  • Unordered goods: Unsolicited goods means sending goods to people who have not ordered them.
  • Keep without Payment: Under the Act, the consumer may keep these goods without payment provided the seller has neither collected them not has been prevented from collecting them, after the following time periods have elapsed:
    • Six Months: During which time the consumer cannot use the goods.
    • Thirty Days: At the end of thirty days, provided the consumer has written to the seller stating that she does not want the goods and stating where and when they can be collected.
sale of goods and supply of services act3
Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act

Guarantees:

  • Addition to Rights: A guarantee is an addition to a consumer’s rights under the 1980 Act.
  • Transfers of Ownership: A guarantee applies to anybody who owns the goods during the period of the guarantee.
  • Promise: It is an offer from the manufacturer to fix or replace the goods that become faulty within a specific time period.
  • Retailer: The retailer is ultimately responsible to the seller for the goods they sell, even where a manufacturer’s guarantee exists.
  • Rules for Guarantees: Written guarantees must be legible, state clearly the name and address of the guarantor, the period of the guarantee and the procedure for making claims.
faq s
FAQ’s
  • I recently bought a second-hand car but it frequently breaks down. I’ve brought it back to the garage but the problems keep arising. What should I do?
  • In the case of a second-hand car you still have rights under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980. A second-hand car would, however, be expected to have some wear and tear. Therefore obtaining redress may be difficult; for example, the age and mileage on your car will be taken into account.
faq s1
FAQ’s
  • Do I have to accept a credit note in place of faulty goods rather than a refund?
  • A refund returns the payment to the consumer. A credit note is like a voucher - it can only be redeemed in that retail outlet and, in some instances, if the shop is part of a chain, in that chain of shops.
  • This will depend on the terms and conditions. You should carefully consider the terms of a credit note before accepting it. You do not have to accept a credit note as a form of redress where the goods are faulty.
faq s2
FAQ’s
  • I bought a good, which was faulty. The company has repaired the product three times and it's still not working. I've asked for a refund but the retailer is refusing. What should I do?
  • If you purchase faulty goods, you are entitled to seek one of the three forms of redress outlined in the question above. The legislation does not state who chooses the form of redress.
  • If a repair is offered and accepted, then it should be permanent. If not, and the same fault occurs again, the buyer is entitled to seek another form of redress.
faq s3
FAQ’s
  • I have a faulty product but the store policy states they won't accept returns after 28 days. What are my rights?
  • The retailer cannot put a time limit of 28 days on the return of faulty goods. This period generally refers to the retailer's policy regarding consumers exchanging goods that are not faulty.
  • The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980 covers faulty products. While this does not stipulate a time limit for the return of faulty goods, it is the consumer's responsibility to act promptly, bearing in mind the cost and expected lifespan or "shelf life" of the product.
faq s4
FAQ’s
  • What are my rights in "the sales"?
  • Items that are sold in a sale or at a reduced price are treated no differently in law to goods sold at any other time.
  • But if goods are marked "imperfect", "shop soiled", "seconds" or "sold as seen", then you have been made aware that they may not be up to the standard of new or perfect goods and the price will usually reflect this.
faq s5
FAQ’s
  • I have a faulty product but have lost my receipt. Do I have any rights?
  • A business is entitled to ask for proof of purchase before providing redress. The onus is on the consumer to establish when and where the item was purchased. This is why it is so important to keep your receipts.
  • Cheque stubs, credit card statements and bank statements can also be accepted as proof of purchase.
faq s6
FAQ’s
  • In what circumstances might a seller refuse to offer redress for faulty goods?
  • Your legal entitlements may be diminished in the following circumstances:
  • If the goods complained about have been used for some time
  • If there has been an undue delay in making the complaint or returning the item
  • If there is reason to believe that the goods have been accepted in their faulty state
the consumer information act 1978
The Consumer Information Act 1978

The objective of this Act is to protect consumers from false or misleading claims about goods, services and prices and to provide information to consumers about their rights and entitlements under the law.

the consumer information act 19781
The Consumer Information Act 1978

Trade descriptions:

  • Goods and Services: It is against the law to make false or misleading statements when describing goods, e.g. ‘Pure new wool’, or when describing services, e.g. ‘Free delivery to all areas’.
  • Price of Goods: It is against the law to make false or misleading statements about the price of goods and services, e.g. putting the price of the basic model of a particular car on a display stand containing the top of the range model.
  • Previous Price: It is against the law to state the previous price of a product or service on an advertisement, e.g. usual price €20, sale price €15, unless the goods/services were on sale at the higher price for at least 28 days in the previous 3 months.
the consumer information act 19782
The Consumer Information Act 1978
  • Recommended Price: It is against the law to state the recommended retail price of a product or service on an advertisement, e.g. RRP €20, unless it is the actual price recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Orally, in Writing, by Conduct: The Act applies to all trade descriptions, whether they are made orally, in writing, or by conduct.
the consumer information act 19783
The Consumer Information Act 1978

Advertisement

  • Misleading Advertisements: It is an offence to publish any advertisement that is likely to mislead and thereby cause loss, damage or injury to members of the public.
  • Chain Store: Advertisements by a person who trades in more than one place, e.g. a chain store, are assumed to apply to all stores in the chain unless are specifically excluded, e.g. adverts in Dunnes Stores which say ‘offer applies to ROI stores only’.
national consumer agency1
National Consumer Agency
  • The National Consumer Agency (NCA) is a statutory body established by the Irish Government in May 2007. It aims to defend consumer interests and to embed a robust consumer culture in Ireland.
  • The Government has given the NCA a very strong mandate to defend and promote consumer rights through:
    • Forceful advocacy
    • Targeted research
    • Consumer information
    • Education and awareness programmes
    • The systematic enforcement of consumer law
the small claims court
The Small Claims Court
  • The Small Claims Court is a relatively cheap, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve some types of dispute without having to use a solicitor.
  • The application fee is €18, and the service is provided in your local district court office.
  • The court officials settle many cases through negotiation, without the case having to be listed for court.
the small claims court1
The Small Claims Court
  • Claims up to €2,000: It is intended for use by consumers who are making claims of up to €2,000 for faulty goods, unmerchantable quality, breach of contract etc.
  • Last resort: The consumer must first have sought redress from the retailer before applying to the Court.
  • No Legal Representation: No solicitors or lawyers required by any party.
  • Application form: Consumer completes an application form detailing the complaint along with a fee of €18. Can be sent electronically.
  • Settlement: A copy of the form is sent to the offending party who has two weeks to respond. If no solution is found, the judge will listen to both sides and make a decision.
the ombudsman
The Ombudsman
  • From the Swedish word meaning ‘agent’ or ‘representative’ of the people.
  • An ombudsman investigates complaints from members of the public who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain organisations.
  • His/her office is impartial and independent. If he/she finds a complaint is justified he/she will take steps to secure redress for the complainant.
  • The Office of the Ombudsman investigates complaints about the administrative actions of Government Departments, the Health Service Executive, local authorities and An Post.