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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Thursday 27 October 2016


It's been a busy day as I have continued to test the consumer laws for you. 

First, into M&S. I had bought three pairs of trousers there the other week believing I would qualify for a Sparks Card 20% discount but the till wasn't having it.  Shops can get into difficulty in this sort of territory leading to a possible allegation of an offence and a civil claim (see Breaking Law at chapter 40). I bought the trousers at the non-discounted price and then made an on line customer service complaint. Perfectly efficient and fast response: go into local store and they will sort it out. And that's where I went today and I got my refund within ten minutes and waived any demand for out of pocket expenses. The alarm sounded as I left through the front exit but no attempt was made to detain me so that's a false imprisonment claim I've missed out on (see Breaking Law at chapter 37). 

Next to Holland & Barrett to return a bag of dried fruit and nuts because the nuts were soft. I was within the 30 days allowed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to make a short-term rejection (see Breaking Law at page 39). You have to sock it the shop that you are rejecting. Smiling, I handed the packet to the manager and said I was making a return and why. He was a delight. A refund in record time.

Then confirmation from HP that a refund and two ink cartridges were on their way in settlement of my claim. Eh? This one has been more difficult. I had bought an HP printer which was defective. The seller took it back and I replaced it with an upgraded model. In the meantime I had ordered a supply of cartridges from HP which were compatible with the returned printer but not the replacement printer. I wanted my money back for the cartridges for which I had no use. Strictly, that was a claim against the seller but I thought it would be more expedient to direct it to HP.  They wanted proof of purchase of the cartridges (from the company which had since become an associate company due to some restructuring) but I had not been supplied with an invoice. HP was becoming difficult on this issue though at the same time signing off with "warm regards" no less (which is as friendly as I have ever got with anyone from a customer services department). So, this was my next email.

Subject: Re: HP [ ref:_00DG0h8qk._50027maJgb:ref ]
Date: 8 September 2016 12:53:29 BST
To: HP Support 

I have now blown a fuse and I fear that a gasket blow is imminent.

You are asking for proof of purchase.  I have sent you a copy of the dispatch note issued by your associate company. That I have been able to send you the copy would suggest, would it not, that I hold the original and, if I hold the original ,would that not suggest that the original came with the goods and, if the original came with the goods, would that not suggest that the goods were supplied to me and, if the goods were supplied to me, would that not suggest that I paid for them or do you suppose that your associate company decided to give away cartridges for free because they liked me although they had never met me or communicated with me before?

For the third time, would you give me an answer — preferably, a straight one- to the straight question you have so far ignored twice, namely what are your proposals for  redress for the inconvenience I have suffered and time I have wasted on this matter. Claim getting even bigger.

Regards (not too warm at the moment)
Stephen Gold

The recipient referred the dispute to six other persons in her organisation calling me difficult (me??!!) and unwisely copied me in on the email which I fancy helped with further negotiations. It is now conceded I can have a refund in full and, for my trouble, two cartridges (one was offered and I counter-offered two).

Claims for inconvenience where a contract has been broken may not be easy according to the strict letter of the law (see Breaking Law, chapter 24).

The end of a perfect day. Sleep tight.