I feel like I've been having a lot of arguments with companies lately.
On Tuesday I bought an iPad from PhotoDirect on eBay as a birthday present for my girlfriend and on Wednesday it arrived (wonderful service).
iPad browsing problems
However, then we realised that my girlfriend's core online learning resource - e-learning for healthcare - doesn't work on an iPad (incidentally it works fine on Jelly Bean but that's another story).
Returning an iPad
So on Friday (2 days after it arrived) I sent an eBay message to PhotoDirect asking to return the item, polite as you like:
hi. I just bought a white iPad 2 from you. it arrived on Wednesday.
it was a present for my girlfriend, but she's discovered that the main thing she wanted to do on it it won't work for.
can I send it back and get a full refund? the packaging hasn't been opened.
Anticipating a struggle, as soon as I sent this message I googled and read up on my consumer rights.
Thank you for contacting us.
Is it still as we sent? Sealed?
(Ignore that I'd clearly said "the packaging hasn't been opened" - this isn't the point)
This is where I communicated terribly:
I opened the outer cardboard box. the actual iPad packaging is untouched and still in it's cellophane wrapping.
I can see from my second reply there that she might have thought I had opened the iPad's manufacturer box (I hadn't), which led to...
The part where they try to steal £10
Thank you for contacting us. When you broke the seal , we can't sell it as Brand new again so we can refund your payment minus 10GBP .
I just want to clarify that In may case there is absolutely no cause for them to complain because I didn't actually open the manufacturer box. This is a matter of principle.
Here is where it gets interesting / infuriating. They just broke the law:
.. the UK Distance Selling Regulations state that you must allow me to return the item for a full refund, even if I have opened it (with exceptions that don't included iPads) - I have the right to inspect the item and still cancel the order if I wish.
Consumer rights - the Distance Selling Regulations
I think this point is really important. The UK Distance Selling Regulations mean that:
Your right to cancel starts the moment you place your order and doesn’t end until seven working days from the day after you receive your goods.
This right means that you can inspect a product exactly as you would expect to be able to in a shop - and that means opening the package - and still send it back for a full refund.
Further attempts to infringe on consumer rights
Once I'd got them to agree to give me a refund, they sent me an email containing instructions on how to send it back to them. This email contained the following:
.. Please make sure that the item does not have any physical or user related damage. Any problems related to user fault will be refused.
Once again, this threat is against the law. As shown above, a distance retailer does not have the right to refuse to give me a refund as long as I wish to cancel the order within 7 days of receiving it:
.. even if the customer fails to take reasonable care of the goods, they still have a right to cancel and receive a full refund. However, you may have a claim for damages against them.
This is important
Fortunately for me I am the sort of person who will look up my rights in situations like this.
Lots of other people don't have the time or the inclination, and probably the socially dis-empowered are the least likely to do so.
In this situation, photodirect could have got away with stealing from them by not giving them a full refund. That is why I think this is important, and why I think this was particularly disgusting behaviour on the part of photodirect.