Store Agreements Explained
Every time we purchase goods from a store we are entering into an agreement with the store. As with any other contracts or agreements there are a number of terms and conditions that make up a contract, and consumers have a great deal of power regarding their statutory rights.
Store AgreementsRegardless of whether you are shopping online or actually purchasing goods in store on a one to one basis you are entering into a contract with the store. The store’s goods are its offer and your purchase is the acceptance. The minute you step into a store you are actually there by invitation only. Consumer rights are part of the terms and conditions of any contract entered into when a customer purchases goods, whether they are paid for with cash, credit card, or with the store’s own credit card.
Consumer RightsThe Sale of Goods Act 1979 brought with it many rights for the protection of the consumer. Customers who have purchased goods have the right to fair treatment from store owners, and if any of the three basic requirements regarding purchased goods, products or services is not in place then a refund of payment is required. The three basic requirements are:
- Advertising; the goods should be exactly as they were advertised.
- The items purchased must be of a satisfactory level; they must be free from any defects and they should stay operational for a reasonable period of time.
- The goods should fit the purpose that they were made for.
Trader RequirementsIf goods are not up to standard then it is a requirement of the store owner to either replace the goods or offer a refund. In many cases a store owner will tell the customer to contact the manufacturer but this is not the customer’s job. The customer bought the items in good faith from the store and it is the store’s legal requirement to refund or replace.
Store ReceiptsReceipts given after purchase are seen as part of the store agreement. Although many stores will not accept the return of goods without a receipt there is no legal requirement for a customer to actually have one if returning faulty goods. It is helpful to have a receipt as proof of purchase and a store should accept an alternative such as a bank statement if the goods were purchased by credit or debit card.
Refunds and No RefundsA store must refund the full purchase price if goods are faulty or do not reach the acceptable level of any of the three requirements. Even if the goods have been used by the customer the store must replace or refund, although in some cases only a percentage of the refund may be made. Stores cannot simply place no refund signs and think that they are then covered with regards to refunding customers. It is the store’s responsibility to make refunds and it is a legal requirement. It is not the customer’s responsibility to go to the extra effort and expense that would be entailed by contacting the manufacturer.
Unfair TermsWith store agreements there are terms and conditions that will apply to both the customer and the retailer, and these conditions are enforceable under the law. If any of the consumers statutory rights are broken then there can be penalties applied to the trader. Similarly, if the trader acts in bad faith and shows a lack of goodwill, or the terms and conditions of any store agreement have an unfavourable balance towards the trader, then these will be viewed as unfair terms by a court of law. This means that the store agreement can be legally broken by the customer and the store agreement will not be upheld.
Most reputable stores take their store agreements very seriously. A store will only survive if there is a good customer/trader relationship, and refunds are part of this relationship. Any store that breaks an agreement or acts unfairly is accountable in a legal sense, and the law takes consumer rights very seriously. Always read any contract or agreement carefully, and if the terms and conditions are unclear then either clarify them or seek advice before entering into the agreement.