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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 9 November 2017

There's A Bee in My Honey - And It's Dead!

I once tweeted that I had jars of honey for sale containing live bees. Just a joke, you understand. No offers to purchase were received but I gained a health shop as a follower which quickly decamped upon more careful consideration. 

Alas, nothing funny about one of the two jars of natural raw buckwheat blossom honey I ordered through Amazon the other week. One of them had the corpse of a bee inside (or alternatively a wasp but I cannot be sure until I have had an autopsy performed although a quickly convened jury reckoned, on balance, that it was a bee). It's all well and good that next year EU legislation will help companies introduce such delights as locusts, mealworms and crickets into our diets but, the entire corpse of the aforesaid insect was, I thought, beyond the pale.

I decided to reject both jars. I notified rejection through Amazon - on line, of course- and asked for the supplier to arrange collection.  In response, I was given a list of option returns. Waiting for the supplier to call was not one of them. Not being a litigious type, I decided to be merciful and to indicate I could return via a locker at a local store. However, when I was informed that the locker reservation would only be available for what was a very short period, I changed my mind. This was my web question and chat with Amazon.

Initial Question: I cannot return during the limited locker time allowed and revert to my original request that the seller arrange for collection. It is not my legal obligation to be put to the inconvenience and expense of repackaging and redelivering.

12:30 PM GMT Surendar(Amazon)Thank you for contacting Amazon.co.uk. My name is Surendar.

Am I chatting with S Gold?

12:30 PM GMT s goldYes

12:31 PM GMT SurendarHello Gold, I can understand your concern regarding this. Let me check and help you in this.

12:33 PM GMT SurendarJust to confirm, is this the item you are referring for:
Natural, raw buckwheat blossom honey (1 kg) ?
Natural, raw buckwheat blossom honey (1 kg) ?

12:34 PM GMT s goldYes, two jars.

12:34 PM GMT SurendarThanks for confirming.Please bear with me 2 minutes while I check this for you.

12:36 PM GMT SurendarI have checked and see that the return label is created today, you can return the item within 3 business days.

You no need to worry for the package, please return the item with any of the box you have.

12:38 PM GMT s goldPlease reread what I have already said. I am NOT prepared to be put to this trouble. There has been a most serious breach of contract - a dead insect in one jar. My legal right is for a return of the price paid for the two jars and reimbursement of consequential losses. The seller must COLLECT.

12:40 PM GMT SurendarJust to confirm, is the insect found on both the jars you have been received?

12:41 PM GMT s goldNo one but the contract is not severable. If the product cannot be trusted - one is unfit for human consumption - then I am entitled to reject both jars as I do.

12:43 PM GMT SurendarOkay Gold, I'll forward this issue to the internal team and they will update you via email in 24 hours.

12:43 PM GMT s goldNoted. My name is Stephen Gold.

12:44 PM GMT SurendarI'm sorry, I will forward this issue to the internal team they will reach you via email in 24 hours.

12:44 PM GMT s goldOK.

And then, within 24 hours, Amazon  - not the actual supplier under the contract -returned to say they were refunding the full purchase price and, so far, they have been silent about any return. It looks like the honey - and the bee- will soon be destined for my dustbin.

Where goods are being rejected because they were not up to legal standard, as in this case, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that the consumer must make the goods available for collection by the seller unless the consumer has agreed to return them. That means that, as a general rule, the seller must make the necessary arrangements to get the goods back. Either way, the seller must bear the expense of return except for any costs incurred by the consumer in returning them in person to the place from which they originally got them. Different rules apply to cancellation where the distance selling regulations come into play - and they do cover on line transactions - but in this instance I was relying not on those regulations but on the 2015 Act and a breach of contract.

For much, much more on consumer rights and template letters and court forms, see Breaking Law - and if the pages fall out, you may have a claim!