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Customer damages item then wants refund

 7:07 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)


we sold an item (value 175) to a customer about 8 months ago - its a kids/adults item used mainly for display but can be used/played with.

about 2 wks ago the 'young customer' phoned saying he was unhappy with the quality & asked for a replacement item - without wanting to return the original.

i said i would be happy to replace the item if it was down to a manu defect etc but would not do so if damaged or misused.
at that point his mother interupted the conversation & informed that she had contacted trading standards & demanded in no uncertain terms a full refund again without wanting to return the item.

a week later he phoned again & said he was now going to return the item but i again stressed that i would not refund if damaged.

i received the item today & what a mess, glue all over it & obviously misused.

this is a first - we have sold 1000's of the items with no complaints. to be honest i'm not sure how to handle it - any idea's?




 9:00 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Take pictures of the product, return it back saying it not eligible for refund. I wouldn't send a replacement - you only encourage buyers to continue with unsavory behavior. Some people feel entitled or justify their behavior with the thought that companies make so much money they won't miss this little bit.


 9:13 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

sun818 - thanks for your reply - the guy has us tortured on the phone & truly believes we are liable for his damage - i wondering could he even do a chargeback under the circumstances?

Corey Bryant

 9:43 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, he could do a chargeback and depending on what he tells the issuing bank (and depending on the card association), might actually get his money back. If he tells the issuing bank he was not happy with the product, the issuing bank might just refund him and that's that.

But being that it has been eight months, I don't think you have anything to worry about unless they bought it with American Express. This card association tends to favor the consumer and pretty much has no time limits. For the other card associations, the usual time is six months. But this also depends on if the card is a credit or debit card.

Refer the customer over to your terms where you state you are not responsible for products that have been clearly damaged (or some words like that). I would not even offer them a discount on anything because at some point, you have to draw the line on some customers.


 9:52 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Some companies like Zappos has a 365 days return policy. They even pay for return shipping.


 8:19 am on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think (could be wrong) but in my experience, UK consumers generally aren't aware of being able to do a chargeback. And when they do make chargebacks, it's only because their card has been used fraudulently.

As others have said, I would suggest sending the item back to the customer saying that it cannot be replaced as it has been misused. They may however grumble about loosing the cost of the postage sending it to you.



 11:54 am on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

The European Union Product Warranty Directive [eur-lex.europa.eu] requires a warranty of at least two years. That means the customer is entitled to a repair or replacement free of charge if a defect becomes apparent through no fault of his own within a period of 2 years.

In the first six month if a good is defective it is implied that the defect consisted already at the time of the sale. After that the proof that the good was defective at the time of sale is with the customer.

So at this point your customer has to proof that the product had a defect at the time of sale. If the product is obviously damaged because it was mishandled you do not have to refund the money or replace the item.

And if he does a chargeback - so what? Then send a money collector after him or sue him.

[edited by: lorax at 12:00 pm (utc) on Oct. 15, 2008]


 7:14 pm on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

This type of issue usually boils down to two general opinions on what to do. Most of the time you cannot determine with an absolute certainty whether someone is being fair or not on the other end.

One is that the customer did wrong and they should be held responsible and take whats coming to them by upholding the store policies and not let them get away with ripping you off.

The other is that they are not worth the hassle, or on a more positive note "the customer is always right", give them what they want and they will go away and maybe even return someday to either buy more, or steal more.


 7:44 pm on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

we contacted trading standards today & according to them an item can be returned up to 6 years after purchase wrt a manu fault (allowing for normal w&t) - i couldn't believe it.


 6:35 am on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

we contacted trading standards today & according to them an item can be returned up to 6 years after purchase wrt a manu fault

Notice the two important words here: "up to" and "manufacturing fault".


 8:59 am on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

"up to" means that there is never a case whereby something can be returned after 6 years under statutory rights. Warranties can be offered for longer periods.

However, the limit of the rights period may be shorter (but not shorter than two years under EU directive), depending on the useful life of the product (baring in mind the cost and quality compared to other products- cheaper brands generally having a short expected life then quality).

I would read the BERR (formally DTI) FAQs on Sales of goods

Disclaimer: IANAL and I am assuming you are in UK since you sold in


 9:02 am on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just read over the link and would direct you to Q3 and the second para of Q13


 7:40 pm on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

shaddows - thanks for the link - 'very' informative.

regarding the issue - the customer has now 'backed off' after i threatened to send his item & one of our stock items to trading standards for them to inspect.

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