I read the T&Cs and was pleasantly surprised

Update 19 March 2013: Following the comments about my blog in the forum I spoke to the Co-operative Electrical about its terms and conditions.

It appears that a broken link during the purchase process meant I was shown an incorrect version of the terms and conditions. The correct terms and conditions, which have now been fixed, allow for an exchange or refund within 30 days, provided the product has not been used, or, under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations, within 7 days of delivery if the goods have been opened. It isn’t 14 days as I’d originally thought.

I wrote this blog to give an example of where I thought a company had gone over and above its legal obligation, as too often companies try to get away with the bare minimum.

Sadly, The Co-operative Electrical didn’t provide the extra protection I’d hoped for on this occasion but it just goes to highlight the fact we should all be more aware of the contracts we’re signing up to and questioning things that don’t make sense. Thanks to the forumites who gave me feedback.

Let me know in the forum or comments box below what good practice you’ve spotted and I’ll pass it on to the company on your behalf.

Reading small print can be fun!

Reading small print can be fun!

I’m in the market for a new laptop. Due to its 60-minute delivery slot and £5 for next day weekend delivery, The Co-operative Electrical caught my eye.

I found a laptop that suited my needs and, as usual, at the payment stage of the order process I was asked the standard question to confirm I’d read the terms and conditions and privacy policy. This time I was actually inclined to read them!

Now, I know this should be the standard response for any consumer – especially a MoneySaver, never mind an employee of MoneySavingExpert – but in all honesty, I should fess up that I usually don’t.

However, on this occasion, the combination of today being World Consumer Rights Day and the T&Cs being shown on the page rather than a click away, I was curious enough to have a read.

The whole contract was 5,400 words, but roughly a fifth was about items I wasn’t buying (dishwashers, TVs, etc). The rest was in easy-to-read, bite-sized chunks so I could pick the sections I wanted to read in more detail (OK, so this is a confession that I didn’t read every single word!). All in all, it took me about five minutes before I was happy enough to tick the acceptance box.

As I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to keep the laptop, the main section I wanted to read was this one:

Cancellation and Returns

If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase you may return it under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, within 14 days of delivery for an exchange or refund. However the following points must be observed:

  • Items must be returned in an unused condition with the original packaging, along with the receipt or other valid proof of purchase.
  • Items are to be returned at your expense unless the item purchased was damaged or faulty when you received it.

Under the Distance Selling Regulations, if you want to return an item that’s not faulty, you’ll usually be asked to pay for return delivery, unless the seller doesn’t say this in its T&Cs.

In this case the Co-op does say I’ll have to pay, but by checking in advance I was able to bear this in mind when looking at the overall price in case I did end up sending the laptop back.

What’s the surprise?

Did any of you spot the pleasant surprise in the cancellation and returns section?

It’s that the Co-op has decided to give its customers 14 days to change their mind, whereas the law currently says for most online orders they only need to give seven (if you’re not told about your cancellation rights at all, you may have longer to cancel the order).

This might not seem like much, but I was already doubting whether I’d have time to test a couple of aspects of the machine in one week (such as the keyboard and weight), so the extra time was just the thing I needed to help me decide to part with my hard-earned cash. And hopefully I won’t need to use the returns process anyway.

It’s worth noting all retailers will be required to provide 14 days by the end of the year under the new EU Consumer Rights Directive.

We’ve some strong consumer rights in the UK, but by far the best form of protection is to stop any problems happening in the first place. Gen up on your rights before shopping with our full Consumer Rights “Give me my money back!” guide or click and print our free Wallet-sized mini-guide.

Do any of you read terms and conditions or have you spotted other retailers already offering 14-day cooling off periods? Let me know in the forum or comments box below.