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Letters from July 2016


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Delivery damaged

I had a parcel delivered by courier and signed to say it had been received. When the courier and I opened it we discovered a part had been damaged. We thought the item had not been packaged adequately by the retailer. The courier company said there was nothing it could do. Am I stuck with a damaged good? What are my rights? HANNAH JONES

When a retailer agrees to deliver goods you’ve bought, it has to ensure the goods get to you on time and in acceptable condition. If an item is damaged, you’re entitled to ask the retailer to fix the problem. It can’t just blame the courier. If the good can’t be repaired to the condition it was in before it was damaged, the Consumer Guarantees Act gives you the right to claim a replacement of the same type and similar value, or a refund.

UPDATE: A new part was eventually delivered, undamaged, to Hannah.

Drawer debacle

We bought a set of drawers for our nursery in late May. Once we’d put the drawers together (it was a kitset), we noticed the laminate on the front of one drawer was lifting off. We contacted the retailer to ask for a replacement as soon as possible. It said it couldn’t replace just one drawer but could replace the whole set in mid-July. Waiting this long for a replacement is completely unacceptable as the reason we brought this product was for a nursery for our new baby. We mentioned this to the sales assistant at the time of purchase and in our later emails. We’d like a refund so we can take the money and buy a set of drawers from elsewhere. Can we ask for that? KATE McALPINE

If the faulty drawer can’t be replaced within a reasonable time you’re entitled to a refund. You made it clear at the time of purchase and in your later communications with the retailer you needed the drawers within a certain time. We recommend contacting the store again and asking for a refund under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

UPDATE: A replacement drawer was delivered within 48 hours after Kate and our consumer adviser contacted the store.

Fitbit unfit

I bought a Fitbit Charge HR last year in June. The strap did not wear well and was coming apart. I returned it to the retailer in May. It replaced the Fitbit with one that had “Product Returned” on the box. When I went to use it, I saw there was already data on the Fitbit from previous use. It seems to be in good condition and is working. My query is what guarantee should I have for this new Fitbit? The retailer said just until June 2016, when the warranty for the old Fitbit would have run out. Is this correct and legal? HEATHER WARD

If you claim under warranty, then the retailer has told you correctly that the warranty expires at its original time — in this case, 12 months from purchase. But in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, you have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act which requires products to last a reasonable time. If you haven’t caused the fault, you are covered by the Act and this means you can’t be given refurbished goods. We recommend you take the product, including the box, back to the store. Talk to the store manager and request the Fitbit is replaced with a new one.

UPDATE: Heather showed the manager our letter and the used Fitbit was replaced with a new one.

Secure ventilation

I own a property in Wellington. The downstairs back bedroom has a dampness problem. It is south facing looking out on to the next door section but getting no sun. There is a poorly fitting single-glazed aluminium window that can’t be opened because of the security risk. It is a fixed pane and a horizontal sliding pane. Both panes are of similar size (1300mm x 1700mm). I am investigating a double-glazed window with scope for ventilation to help eliminate moisture. One option is passive ventilation in the fixed pane. Would this work? A MEMBER

George Block, technical writer, says: You should be fine to go with the passive ventilation in the fixed pane. There is a possibility the small holes in the passive ventilation grill could start to really howl during a southerly. So if the room is exposed to wind check this with the installer. You should also confirm the passive ventilation slot is large enough to promote adequate airflow when compared with an open window on a security stay. You could ask the installer to provide a written statement to the effect that the passive ventilation will allow adequate airflow giving a noticeable reduction in airborne moisture. You can check the ventilation’s effectiveness by buying a humidity meter/weather station from an electronics store and recording humidity levels before and after installation.

No-smoke alarms

We have two QUELL QPI9010 smoke alarms, both situated by bedrooms, well away from the kitchen. Both have gone off at odd hours of the day when there was no possibility of smoke or heat. We have renewed the batteries twice (NiMH rechargeable) but with no change. We live in an isolated coastal area with no likelihood of interference from outside sources. Have you any suggestions? JENIFER MACKMURDIE

George Block, technical writer, says: Your alarms are the dual sensor (photoelectric and ionization) type, so it’s important their vents/grills aren’t blocked and there’s not too much dust in the atmosphere. I suggest doing the following:

  • Check vents for dust and debris or insects
  • Make sure there’s no source of dust or airborne particulates below the smoke alarms — this can activate the ionization sensor
  • Move the smoke alarms away from any sources of unusually hot or cold air, such as draughts from windows or hot air from central heating vents or heat pumps
  • Check the smoke alarm isn’t exposed to steam from the bathroom or kitchen
  • Confirm the humidity level isn’t too high (greater than 50 percent).
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