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Letters from August 2016


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That sinking feeling

In January 2016, we purchased an outdoor table. However, we’ve noticed the middle of the table is sinking. In May, we phoned the shop and talked to the manager. He asked us to send photos, which we did. The following week we phoned and were told the store had received the photos and would get back to us. We were subsequently told the store didn’t have any more tables in stock and it would get them in August. As we have lost faith in the product, could you please let us know what our rights are? A MEMBER

Where goods aren’t of acceptable quality, the retailer is responsible for providing a remedy. If the fault is minor, the retailer may choose one of three remedies: repair the item, replace it or provide a refund of the purchase price. It must provide the chosen remedy successfully and within a reasonable time. If it fails to do so, you’re entitled to ask for a refund. In our view, waiting three months before the store can replace the table is unreasonable. We suggest you point this out and ask the retailer to reconsider its response.

UPDATE: A refund was provided after our member went back to the store.

Defective detection

Recently, I commissioned a garage to do a pre-purchase report on a vehicle I was considering buying. The report found the car was mainly in good condition, noting relatively minor body panel issues. Two weeks later, I noticed corrosion around the rear brake light and it’s going to cost $400 plus GST to have it repaired. If the garage had listed this corrosion in its report I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with the purchase. The report did detail the condition of the body panels, listing seven points on a diagram of the car but missed the most important defect. Do you think I have a case for at least getting the cost of the report refunded? MIKE

The Consumer Guarantees Act requires the garage to take reasonable care and skill in carrying out its services. In this case, the garage missed the rust on your car. The problem is visible on the photos you sent us. If you’d known about the rust, you would have reconsidered buying the vehicle. As the garage didn’t meet its obligations under the Act, you don’t have to settle for reimbursement of the cost of the report. You can ask the garage for compensation for the repair costs.

UPDATE: Mike took the car back to the garage, the manager acknowledged the oversight and agreed to pay for repair.

Refund responsibility

I purchased a pair of shoes for my son via Amazon and they have not been durable. Within a fortnight they had damaged webbing, were fraying and the silver detailing had peeled off. This is with normal daily wear by a six-year-old. Two months after purchase, I’ve had to replace them. I contacted the New Zealand distributor of this brand and it said it had no responsibility. Is this correct? A MEMBER

As the shoes were bought online and your money was paid to Amazon, the local distributor isn’t responsible for providing a remedy. Overseas online purchases aren’t covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act . The New Zealand distributor was correct that it has no responsibility. Had the shoes been purchased through a retailer within New Zealand, you could have asked the retailer to replace the shoes or provide a refund. We recommend you raise the problem direct with Amazon.

UPDATE: Our member contacted Amazon and received a refund.

Upgrade uproar

After turning on my computer recently, I saw it was upgrading to Windows 10. I had seen a pop-up box about Windows 10 appear on my computer, but I didn’t want to upgrade so I closed the box. The blame got passed around our household until we realised no one had actually agreed to the upgrade. Can Microsoft do this? A MEMBER

Erin Bennett, Consumer technical writer, says: Yes it can. When Microsoft released Windows 10 last year, it was optional at first. This upgrade was later changed to a recommended update, meaning if you had “automatic updates” enabled on your computer, then you would be automatically upgraded. Those who didn’t install Windows 10 this way, received a pop-up with the option of upgrading now, delaying or closing the window. If you had assumed that closing the window, by clicking the X in the top right-hand corner, would decline the offer, you’d be wrong. Microsoft used this action as an acceptance of the upgrade. After complaints here and overseas, Microsoft reversed this action. It also included the option to reject the upgrade. It’s worth noting Windows 10 is an improvement over previous versions and I recommend upgrading if possible. The free Windows 10 offer ended last month. The upgrade now costs $199.

Charge shock

We recently bought a Dyson V6 Absolute vacuum cleaner. To my horror, after fully charging, it only operated for what seemed like a few minutes before the battery was flat. Subsequent use shows it has just enough battery life to clean the lounge. Is this regarded as satisfactory? It does a great job but this limitation should be disclosed to intending purchasers. Have you heard of others with this problem? In my opinion, it is not fit for intended use. LORD FARROW

Paul Smith, Consumer head of testing, says: We tested the Dyson V6 Absolute and a few other Dyson cordless handstick models. We found they run for between seven and nine minutes on full power. Dyson claims “up to 20 minutes run time”. That’s in line with other top-performing stick vacuums from Bosch and Electrolux. There’s a trade-off with cordless stick vacuums: cleaning performance or run time. The only way around this is by fitting bigger batteries, but this makes a vacuum heavier and less versatile.

Dyson handsticks have an on/off trigger and a full power button. They run for less than 10 minutes on full power, but in reality you’ll get 15 to 20 minutes of cleaning time.

We think it’s acceptable for their intended use.

The current crop of cordless stick vacuums all work best when cleaning small areas at a time — for example, cleaning a room each day instead of the whole home once each week.