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.

-- nottrobin

Anticipating a struggle, as soon as I sent this message I googled and read up on my consumer rights.

They responded:

Thank you for contacting us.
Is it still as we sent? Sealed?

-- photodirect

(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.

-- nottrobin

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 .

-- photodirect

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.

-- nottrobin

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.

-- Which?

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.

-- photodirect

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.

-- TradingStandards.gov.uk

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.