Brits: "Your statutory rights are not affected." Meaning?

While in London, I picked up some things at Sainsbury’s to bring back for my family, and noticed that on the bottom of the store receipt was a statement about my statutory rights (I don’t have the receipt anymore so don’t have the precise language). But while enjoying a packet of biscuits, I noticed that under their “Freephone” you can call to complain is the statement, “Your statutory rights are not affected.” I assume that this means that if you call to complain, and still sue them later, but wondered if any of you with actual, real knowledge (as opposed to my pure speculation) could shed light on the issue. Where did this statement come from? What statutory rights does it refer to? What else does it appear on?

Simply a guess, but perhaps it’s a reference to the purchaser’s rights under the various consumer protection laws such as the *Sale of Goods Act * etc.

Certainly in Australia there are statutes that impose warranties in relation to consumer sales of goods and services. Those warranties cannot be contracted out of (ie a contractual term that purports to exclude those statutory rights is invalid). Further, and most relevantly to the OP, those statutes also say that it is an offence to suggest that those warranties do not apply, or are excluded, or are not available. Presumably to prevent unscrupulous traders bluffing consumers into believing they do not have any rights.

I am basically sure that in the UK the position is the same.

In Australia, a leading women’s clothing store (This goes with this, goes with this goes with that…" - Australians will know who I mean) was prosecuted for having a sign that said simply “no refunds”.

A sign that says “No refunds unless goods are faulty” is OK (because consumers have no right to a refund just 'cos they don’t like the colour, or whatever) but a sign that suggests that no refunds will be given at all implies that the consumer does not have statutory rights that they do.

I expect that this notice appears on the packaging under the freephone complaints number so as to avoid any suggestion that the manufacturer is illegally implying that the existence of a complaint phone number is the beginning and the end of the customer’s entitlements.

I am not a lawyer. I am not…well you know the drill.

This page has the language: “Where the Goods are sold under a consumer transaction (as defined by the Consumer Transactions (Restrictions on Statements) Order 1976, as amended) your statutory rights are not affected by these Conditions. Further information on statutory rights can be obtained from Trading Standards or Citizens Advice Bureaux”.

This page seems to list consumer rights in the UK.

(Bureaux? Yet another British spelling I didn’t know.)

It’s mostly to do with the Sale of Goods Act. This gives many consumer rights, and states (among other things) that you may return defective goods (or any goods within the “trial period”) to the RETAILER.

However, many of the signs on goods state the return of the defective good to the MANUFACTURER. Therefore, stating that “your statutory rights are not affected” is kind of a CYA that is supposed to prevent the retailer from saying “Hey, you ought return this to the manufacturer, it’s none of my business!” but in effect is rather useless, in that most people don’t know that you have a legal right to return the good to the retailer.

There are other warranties which can not be excluded by law (like fit for purpose, etc etc as Princhester has said) but the basic idea is the same.

Just the plural of bureau. From your actual French. :slight_smile:

What they said. If you’re sold goods that aren’t fit for the purpose for which they are supplied, you have the right to nail the bastard who sold it to you, and he the bastard who supplied him, and so on. Many manufacturers therefore adopt the “agree with thine adversary quickly” policy and offer a refund and replace scheme to keep things from getting ugly. However, they’re not allowed to disclaim the rights stated above, and must say so, although it seems that they’re under no obligation to tell you what those statutory rights actually are.

It’s a way of trying to impose extra conditions:

“If you park here, you agree to be gang-raped by a pack of rabid pit-bulls, Your statutory rights are not affected”
is another way of saying
“If you park here, we’re going to attempt to gang-rape you with a pack of rabid pit bulls, but if you know anything at all about the law, or can be bothered to make the effort to check up on it, you’ll find that in fact we have no right to impose any such conditions and can only subject you to pit bull rape by your consent, express or implied, which is of course what we’re trying toby means of this statement - engineer your consent by means of a sign that appears to be stating a legal right”

…trying to do by… not trying toby :smack:

It is surprising how some retailers try and ignore the Sale Of Goods Act. Last year I bought a new printer from an on-lone retailer. When I opened up the box I found that the power-supply and colour cartridge was missing. I phoned up the company to complain and the answer I got from them was " nothing to do with us, we just buy them from the manufactures and ship them on . We do not check every box. You will have to contact the manufacturer about the missing items" .

My reply was . “Oh yes you do have an obligation. My contract was with you , not the manufacturer”. After mentioning the Sale Of Goods Act and saying I would report them to Trading Standards, they changed their mind . The excuse was the first person I spoke to was new and did not understand the law. So they came up with the missing items and also gave me a hundred sheets of photo paper as compensation.

A certain chain of electrical shops come up with the same ploy . If you buy something from them and it goes wrong in the first few weeks , they will not replace it on the spot but insist that it has to go back to the maker for repair or replacement . That again contravenes the Act because they should replace it , not the manufacturer.

Thanks, all. The law in the US is very similar with respect to consumer goods, except that the specific statement, “Your statutory rights are not affected” is one I have never seen in the US. It seemed (and still seems) very strange to me to include such a statement in lieu of one that’s actually more descriptive. (I.e., you can return goods to the retailer, or something.) But thanks for the help.

I think it’s the only way they can legally make statements that conflict with the statutory rights; “No Refunds” would be illegal, whereas “No Refunds, [sub](your statutory rights are not affected)[/sub]” just means “we’re going to resist giving you a refund, but we have no legal basis for doing so”

Good point, particularly if no one really knows what their statutory rights are.

What about those that say something like “If you are unhappy with this product, please return it for a full refund. Your statutory rights are not affected.” ???


I believe (although I may be wrong) that the obligation is to either replace or repair such an item (within a reasonable time frame). And if the most logical way to repair it involves returning the item to the manufacturer, so be it. It’s this loophole that this certain retailer ("…of Dock Green" by any chance?) used to return everything.

I suspect it’s come into use through convenience…should the consumer laws be changed (or important decisions be made in case law), a specific statement on the packaging could suddenly become obsolete, meaning recalling the product and making new designs. A bland catch-all statement ensures that all cases are covered. Plus it probably takes up far less space than a full legal disclaimer!

Yes you’re correct about that company name! I had another instance a few weeks ago. Last year I bought a cheap (£15) Casio watch for everyday use. After eight months it stopped working, and it wasn’t the battery. I took it back to the branch of a well know chain of jewellers I had purchased it from and pointed out it was still within the 12 month’s warranty , so could I have a replacement? No they replied , we have to send it back to the manufactures to determine the cause and this will take six weeks . I did mention the Sale Of Goods Act but to no avail. So I was without the watch for six weeks before I was finally given a replacement.

This was stupid on two counts. Not only was I without the watch for that time but it must have cost the shop more than £15 in postage , packing and staff time to send the watch back to Casio.

But don’t forget that H Samuel or whatever really don’t care about any inconvenience to you(since it’s free to them), that they probably get to ship things to Casio really cheaply since they get a bulk discount (and Casio may even pay), and having a blanket policy of ‘we send it back to the manufacturer’ is probably a lot easier than having to decide what to do based on product, price, type of problem or whater. Decisions are bad. Avoid them. Everyone else does. :smiley:

There are several other sales laws that have not been mentioned here, that provide rights many consumers have little idea about.

Under the

Consumer Protection(Distance selling) Regulations, you can return any purchased item back to the seller for any reason whatsoever within one week.

This applies especially to mail order, but also to other categories of purchase - the reason is to allow a 7 day cooling off period having bought something from a pushy door to door sales person, and I think it also covers things like timeshares, but other regulations also cover the latter.

It also covers telephone sales, and the manner in which telephone sales are conducted - failure to comply with these requirments means that any sale could be declared void by the purchaser for longer periods thant the obilgatory 7 days.

Here is some useful information for UK purchasers, you would be surprised at how a lot of these regulations actually pan out, from use of the small claims courts, to the more recent EU directive on recycling.

A lot of this consumer protection arises from the distincly unfair practices that retialers and service providers exploited in the early 1970’s due to the strange mix of consumer ‘protection’ laws then in force, where an item might be covered under one set of regulations sold from a particular type of retailer eg A Chemist but the same item might not be covered when sold from a differant type of retailer, such as an Off-Licence - examples could include things like Razor Blades, non-alchoholic beverages, bibles etc. This is why many of the more effective laws are based upon regulations enacted in 1979/

The only things that seem to be a source of annoyance to consumers nowadays with unfair practices are defective cars - in the US they have ‘Lemon’ Laws which we could really use, and poor standards of service from garages and tradespersons.

This is a very good introduction

Many companies advertise things like guaruntees and rights to return faulty items etc, as something that they are offering as a goodwill gesture, however the fact that such laws had to be placed upon the statute book in the first place, shows just how much ‘goodwill’ the UK retailer had toward their customers prior to 1979.

Basically, many of them are still bastards and you need to know how to complain in the correct procedure.

Another question that has never been answered about our consumer protection laws is how long should an item last if it is to be considered " fit for purpose"? For instance , if you buy a washing machine that has a 12 month guarantee and it blows up after 13 months , can you demand the manufacturer replace it because it did not last for what would be considered a reasonable time. I suppose the only way this can be tested is in a court of law.