The Disputes Tribunal awarded a $5000 refund to a Big Save Furniture customer after it found the store sold a bed that wasn’t “fit for purpose”.
Consumer member Susan bought a mattress and base from Big Save Furniture in Mt Wellington, Auckland, in 2013. Susan said she bought the bed on the sales rep’s recommendation, after explaining she needed a firm mattress due to a history of back problems.
The mattress was fine initially but became less supportive as time went on, Susan said. When she went back to Big Save in June this year to complain, the store arranged for the manufacturer to inspect the mattress. The inspection found there was nothing wrong with the bed but confirmed it would rate as “soft” not firm, Susan said.
Susan and Big Save tried to resolve the matter but were unsuccessful. Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards recommended Susan lodge a claim in the tribunal for a refund.
The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) requires goods to be fit for any particular purpose a customer makes known to the retailer, Maggie said.
“In this case, Susan says she explained to the store she needed a firm bed and relied on the rep’s recommendation in making her purchase. However, the bed she was sold was rated as soft. This gave her grounds for a claim under the CGA.”
Big Save said it acted in good faith and disputed the claim the bed was not fit for purpose. The company said the sales rep was experienced and spent several hours with Susan to find a suitable bed. It said firmness doesn’t always mean the best support and the model chosen was a “softer comfort bed with a very supportive pocket spring system [and] many comfort layers on top”.
The tribunal referee found in Susan’s favour, concluding the bed wasn’t fit for the purpose she’d made known to the store. Susan was awarded a refund and Big Save was ordered to collect the bed at its cost.
When you tell a retailer you need goods for a particular purpose, and you rely on the store’s expertise in making your purchase, the goods must do what you want. If they don’t, you have grounds for a claim under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Where the failure is minor, the store can repair the goods, replace them or provide a refund. Where the failure is substantial, it’s up to you whether you choose a refund or replacement.