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For several weeks I’d been looking at buying a set of brass table lamps, which typically cost around £150-£200.
I eventually found lamps that perfectly fit the bill for sale on a website called Litfad. Best of all they had been marked down from £166 to £75 – I thought I’d got lucky and caught a sale or end of line reduction and bought two, paying via PayPal.
On delivery, the lamps were really lightweight and I immediately knew they were far from what I was expecting. Cheap, thin, molded metal that was badly sprayed with streaks of paint that might pass for brass if you’re squinting from at least three metres away.
What looked like nice features in pictures online was just molded tat. I honestly wouldn’t have bought the pair of them for a tenner at a car boot sale, yet I’d paid £150.
I told Litfad the lamps were unacceptably poor quality and asked for my money back.
Over the next two days, 40-odd emails were exchanged with Litfad offering me steadily increasing partial refunds and asking that I keep the awful lamps. Initially, it only offered me a 5% refund, only increasing it to 35% when I threatened to get legal advice.
I also asked a qualified electrician to test one of the lamps. It failed a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) and their report concluded ‘I would suggest you do not use this lamp, I wouldn’t plug it in in my own house.’
How can I get my money back?
Put to Rights
Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, says:
It’s infuriating when your online bargain turns out to be a load of worthless tat.
Even though a PAT test isn’t legally required if the electrical item is for private use, an electrician telling you they wouldn’t use it in their own home is a warning you have to take seriously.
If you buy products online from a retailer that is clearly selling to UK consumers you’re protected by a couple of pieces of UK consumer legislation, the Consumer Rights Act and the Consumer Contracts Regulations, both of which give you the right to return online orders for a full refund.
The Consumer Rights Act gives you the right to claim a refund if what you’ve spent your hard-earned money on turns out to be faulty from the retailer you bought it from – but if you’ve owned it longer than 30 days you must give it at least one opportunity to repair or replace it first.
The Consumer Contracts Regulation gives you additional protections when you shop ‘at a distance’, in other words online, over the phone or mail order, and you have 14 days from when your order is delivered to you to decide if you want to keep it or not, and send it back for a refund.
There are a few exemptions like hygiene, personalised or made-to-order products.
Under either law, it sounds like you should have been refunded.
Payment protections to the rescue
If you pay on your credit card, you have the added bonus of Section 75 protection.
This means that if something goes wrong with the purchase, and you’ve spent between £100 and £30,000, you can make a claim to get the money back from your credit card provider.
If you pay with your debit card and something goes wrong, you can make a chargeback claim.
This is where your bank withdraws funds that were previously deposited into the retailer’s account and puts them back into yours.
Paypal buyer protection
Similar to payment protections like chargeback, Paypal has its own buyer protection policy that promises to safeguard users against breaches of contract, including missing deliveries, or when items turn out to be fake, faulty, or not what was expected.
But you will need to file a dispute within 180 days of your purchase or payment.
I’m pleased to say that after we recommended you raise a dispute with Paypal, it refunded you the full amount.
Litfad has not responded to our requests for comment.
Need to know
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