Want a free cycle repair? On yer bike
I WAS surprised at how much they cost!
Here's a reader's story: "I bought a bicycle from (a trader not in Plymouth) on December 1, 2012. I paid £765.
The payment consisted of £100 on my credit card over the phone as a deposit to secure the bike, and £665 in cash."
I looked this morning and they cost about £1,000 new (good grief) so I suppose that this looked like something of a bargain.
She continues: "On January 26, 2013, in the course of normal road cycling the bicycle developed a fault in that there was a failure of the rear gear changing mechanism.
"This failure caused other damage. On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, I took the bicycle back to (the seller) for repair.
"It was done but I was charged £99.50 for it. I paid by credit card although I pointed out that I did not think that this charge was fair."
So, cutting it short, and noting that the reader and I are still working on the details, this was an expensive bike.
It was believed to have been new, although there was none of the usual paperwork supplied – the user guide, a manufacturer's guarantee and so on.
Nonetheless, our reader has receipts.
The rear gear changing mechanism failed after two months and only 25 miles of cycling. She took it back and was charged for a repair.
On February 5 she wrote, asking for the repair money back.
Now, promise you won't smile, their response was that the reason that she had to pay for the repair was that the hanger, on which the rear gear changing mechanism is mounted, counts as a consumable product, and therefore is an item to be paid for along with any other resultant damage.
So what is the legal position? When you buy a bike, new or not, you have a statutory 'guarantee' as the purchaser (that's the Sale of Goods Act stuff).
You would (normally) have a commercial 'guarantee' from the manufacturer of a new bike (an entirely different thing – but often another avenue of redress).
You might buy an extended warranty – an insurance-backed 'guarantee'.
The real answer is that consumer law is designed to meet the reasonable expectations of reasonable consumers. Our reader is entitled to £765 worth of bike. This one packed up remarkably quickly. She is probably entitled to a free repair. If that doesn't work then to a replacement. If that doesn't work, to a refund.
She is probably not entitled to reject the bike after these months, despite the little use she made of it. This is an interesting one, and I think we may come back for updates.
WHILE we are on the broad topic of consumer complaints and rights, last week the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) called for retailers to display consumer rights information at checkouts after over half a million people complained to them over the last year about being sold shoddy products and services worth £3.5 billion.
With a nod towards that Sunday afternoon radio programme listing the pop music charts (I know that you remember it!) the top 10 consumer problems brought by people in England and Wales between April 2012 and February 2013 were:
Beds and mattresses – 7,868
TVs – 8,511
General building work – 8,726
Women's clothing – 9,293
Lap-tops, notebooks and tablet PCs – 10,241
Mobile phone handsets – 10,268
Upholstered furniture – 10,632
Repairs from an independent garage – 11,437
Mobile phone contracts – 11,974
And at number one....
Used cars bought from an independent dealer – 45,425
The excellent CAB are increasingly busy these days, so it's good news that the Which? organisation has just launched a self-help online guide to tracking your consumer rights. Visit www.which.co.uk/consumerrights
It's bright, breezy, very user-friendly and free!
THE prize for nonsense but dangerous emails this week goes to one I received yesterday (I should say that I don't 'do' Facebook or Twitter):
"Congratulations! You have won yourself the total sum of gbp£1,000,000.00 (one million great britain pounds only) your e-mail i.d. emerged as one of the ten final recipients of a cash grant/donation of (gbp£1,000,000.00) pounds from the facebook / yahoo messenger chat awards promotion england u.k.
"E-mail draw, for the claim of your prize you are to contact the below information via e-mail with your ref.fb/968/09.
"Please see attached document file for further step how to claim the prize. Tel: +44-703 174 7620 / +44-703 174 8924 / fax: +44-872 331 6450.
"Regards, dr.mrs.josephine fitzpatrick facebook claim agent england (uk)."
AS ALWAYS, you can contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by post at Plymouth Law School, Plymouth University, PL4 8AA.