Law guide: Complaints & disputes

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Furniture and floor coverings

Furniture and floor coverings

Contents

If you've bought any furniture, including floor-coverings, beds, carpets or lounge suites, it must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for its purpose; and
  • as described.

You can read more about your rights in the section Introduction to your legal rights.

Faults with furniture

Note that different rules apply depending on whether you bought the item before or after 1 October 2015.

Purchases made before 1 October 2015

Faults before use

If you've bought furniture that is faulty before you've used it, you should be entitled to a full or partial refund. This won't be the case, however, if you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the furniture when buying and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it.

Whether you're entitled to a full refund depends on whether you've 'accepted' the furniture.

The Sale of Goods Act states that you have a 'reasonable time' to examine goods after purchase before they're regarded as being 'accepted' by you. It doesn't specifically state how long a 'reasonable time' is; it depends on factors such as how often you use the item, the type of fault (e.g. whether it's obvious or not) and whether you've continued to use the item despite knowing it has a fault.

If you've accepted the furniture, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement. The seller is entitled to refuse either of these if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative. Whatever solution is agreed, it shouldn't result in undue inconvenience to you.

After a few weeks or less

If you've only had the furniture a few weeks, you may be entitled to a refund (assuming that you did not have a reasonable opportunity to examine it when buying and the fault was not so obvious that you should have noticed it). A refund can only be considered if you haven't accepted the furniture (see above).

Alternatively, you may request the furniture to be repaired or replaced. If the fault is only minor and can easily be put right, it's reasonable to accept a repair. This repair should be completed to a satisfactory standard at no additional cost to you. If the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard, you're entitled to seek a refund.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return the furniture to request a repair or replacement, you don't have to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that it was faulty unless the seller can prove otherwise. If you opt for a refund rather than a repair or replacement, the onus will be on you to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale.

More than a few weeks

If you've had the furniture longer than a few weeks or have had a reasonable opportunity to check it, you may still be entitled to a repair or replacement, but this will depend on the circumstances. A repair should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you significant inconvenience. Any repair should restore goods to a satisfactory condition.

If furniture can't be replaced or repaired

If the furniture can't be replaced or repaired economically, you're entitled to a refund. The seller may make a reduction from the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the furniture.

Purchases made on or after 1 October 2015

The right to reject

When you buy furniture that is faulty, you will be entitled to a full refund so long as no more than 30 days have passed starting on the first day after all the below have happened:

  • You became the owner of the furniture
  • It was delivered
  • The confirmed that the installation was completed (where the contract says that it will be installed)

You won't be entitled to this refund if you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the furniture when buying it and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it or if the seller informed you of the fault before you bought it. It also won't be available if the only issue is that the goods were not installed correctly.

If you request the seller to repair or replace the furniture within the 30-day period, then the 30-day time limit will be paused. Once this has been done, you will then have the remainder of the 30-day period or 7 days (depending on which one is longer) to check if the repair or replacement has been successful and decide whether to accept or reject it.

It'll be up to you to prove that there is something wrong with the furniture if the seller doesn't accept this.

A refund must be given within 14 days of the seller agreeing that you are entitled to it.

The right to a repair, replacement or refund

If you don't want a refund or aren't entitled to one you can request the furniture be repaired or replaced without being charged for it if it won't cause you significant inconvenience.

The seller is entitled to refuse to carry out either of these options if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative or if it would be impractical.

An item should be repaired or replaced within a reasonable time. A repair should be completed to a satisfactory standard and a replacement should be of satisfactory quality.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return the furniture to request a repair, replacement or refund, you don't have to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the furniture was faulty unless the seller is able to prove otherwise.

Price reduction or refund

You'll be entitled to reject the furniture and ask for a price reduction or refund if any of the below apply:

  • the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard
  • the replacement is of unsatisfactory quality
  • the seller refuses to repair or replace the furniture because the cost of doing so would be excessive or if it would be impractical
  • the repair or replacement was not provided within a reasonable time or caused you significant inconvenience

You'll be entitled to a price reduction or you can reject the furniture, depending on whether you choose to keep it. If you choose to keep it, you can claim a reduction in price, which must be an amount appropriate to your circumstances and could be the whole price.

If you reject the furniture then you should get a full or partial refund. This will depend on whether the seller will take any use of the item into account.

If fault has caused additional expense

If you're out of pocket in any other way, you may be entitled to compensation over and above the price of the furniture.

Important points to bear in mind

  • You have no rights if you simply picked furniture that doesn't suit your requirements (unless you bought it by mail order, by phone or fax, or on the internet – see Right to cancel a consumer agreement, under 'Distance selling', for more information).
  • All furniture must meet fire resistance standards.

For more information, see Introduction to your legal rights.

If things go wrong

If you determine that there is a problem with the furniture you've bought, do the following:

  • If you can, stop using the furniture.
  • Be sure that the fault wasn't caused by misuse, an accident or not following any assembly instructions.
  • Find your proof of purchase. If you haven't got a receipt, you can use a credit card voucher or cheque stub. Own-brand goods, something exclusive to one shop or the packaging may prove where you bought the item. If someone was with you when you bought it, they can back you up. Remember it's up to you to show where and when you bought the furniture.
  • You now need to contact the seller straight away and report the problem. Take any proof of purchase with you.

If the seller doesn't resolve your complaint

The Furniture Ombudsman

Check if the seller is a member of the Furniture Ombudsman, the independent standards body for furniture and floor coverings (including kitchens and bathrooms). If the seller is a member, the Furniture Ombudsman can provide a dispute resolution service and can inspect the furniture on-site.

Members must follow a code of practice and, in the event of an unresolved dispute, must accept the ruling of the Furniture Ombudsman.

If the seller isn't a member of the Furniture Ombudsman, the Furniture Ombudsman can still arrange an independent inspection of the furniture, but can't intervene any further to help you with any claim.

Court claims

You can bring a claim in the courts, but this should be a last resort if all other options don't produce the result you're looking for. You should speak to a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.