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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I own a small business selling wedding dresses at low prices.

Resolved Question:

Hi I own a small business selling wedding dresses at low prices. I have over 500 wedding dresses at anyone time most of which are designer dresses. These dresses have come from shops that have gone bankrupt/into liquidation or excess stock from shops/manufacturers and auction houses. These dresses are sold as bankruptcy/liquidation stocks, I do not know the history of each dress they could be shop samples, catwalk models, new or even dresses that have been altered for customers and not picked up. I have a customer that bought a dress in April last yer and changed her mind, I said we didn't give refunds however she could swoop the dress if she wished as we get in new stock all the time. She swooped the dress on the 11 Jan 2015 and sent me this e-mail on the 29th Jan (p.s. I did not know it was her at the time) "Hi I'm just wondering none of your dresses are from china are they? Was looking at your site and some don't have names so was just wondering." I answered her "Hi I don't buy any of my dresses from China they have all come from shops that have closed down or overstocks. Most of the stock have the original labels on them so you know who the manufacturer is but a few of them are unnamed so could be made by the shop them selves or maybe a cheap import from China. Having said that we will only put up for sale quality items.
Cheryl"
She the emailed me on the 30th Jan "Thank you is it non refundable once you buy? "
I answered "Hi Yes it is, you can swop for another dress but we do not refund.
Cheryl"
She then emailed "Hi I've been advised by cab to email you and request a refund for a dress I purchased. I was under the impression all dresses was designer as your website and Facebook advertising is very misleading and makes you believe this. When I have got home I have noticed no label inside and the dress to be very light in colour and in weight. I contacted asking do you stock Chinese and you replied with some could be Chinese imports but all dresses are good quality. Upon inspection of the dress in the right light the material is of bad quality all stitching underneath dress is frayed and coming apart it is awful. I am very upset about this as it's only 5 months to the wedding. I contacted the cab for advice as I knew you didn't offer refunds and they have suggested I email first. I would be grateful if you could contact me regarding this matter", she then emailed again a couple of days later " Hi I have previously emailed you regarding a dress I bought asking for a refund I still have not heard anything back. The CAB have asked me to email you one last time before we take the matter further as they have said the dress does not meet the sales of goods act 1979. I would appreciate it if you could get back to me regarding this matter and the refund"
I then e-mailed her back asking for a copy of the receipt which she sent to me and thats when I found out she had already swooped the dress once. Where do I stand on this as obviously the dresses are not sold as new, it clearly states in all our advertising that These dresses have come from bankruptcy/liquidation/shop closures and overstocks.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How would you ideally like to resolve this?

Customer:

I really don't think I should have to refund the customer however I am more than happy for to exchange the dress

Ben Jones :

I presume she bought the dress in store?

Customer:

I sell the dresses at bridal sales which I hold in halls around the northwest. I visit 9 different venues and return to the same venue every 3 months, I also have a small studio at the side of my house which I use mainly for fittings.

Ben Jones :

ok I mean she bought it in person rather than online?

Customer:

Yes she came to one of the sales to buy the original dress and then again to exchange it. She tried the dress and several others on before deciding which one she would like.

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Customer:

OK

Ben Jones :

When a consumer makes a purchase from a business seller, they will have certain 'statutory' rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.

The law states that the goods must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. If they are not, you will have certain legal remedies against the seller. The only time action can be taken against the manufacturer is under a manufacturer's warranty or guarantee. There is no protection against fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage, faults that were pointed out at the time of sale or if the customer changes their mind and no longer wants the goods.

If the goods are not as described, of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose, they will have the following rights:

1. Reject the goods and request a refund - this is only possible if the rejection occurs within a 'reasonable time'. This period depends on the circumstances, although it is generally accepted to be within the first month after purchase, so must not be delayed.

2. Ask for a repair or replacement – if they are too late to reject the goods, they can ask the seller for a repair or replacement without causing any significant inconvenience.

A useful rule is that if the goods are returned within the first 6 months after purchase, the law assumes that they did not conform to the statutory requirements at the time of sale. If the retailer disagrees, it is for them to prove that this was not the case. However, if the goods are returned more than 6 months after purchase, it would be down to the consumer to prove that the goods did not meet the statutory requirements set out above at the time of sale.

The person may be on the limit of time to reject the dress but it would depend on when it would have been reasonable for her to spot the alleged issues. For example if she did not have the opportunity to examine the dress sooner or did not have any fittings until very recently then she may still be in time.

You could however argue that she has not rejected it within a reasonable time as the exchange was made over a month ago and that whilst you cannot issue a refund you would be happy to exchange it. If she is not happy with that then it is for her to take the matter further and all she can realistically do is sue you but she may not go as far as doing so which means you cannot be forced to refund her until then. With a wedding coming up going to court may be the last thing on her mind anyway.


Customer:

OK but if she did sue me then would I have to pay her costs.

Ben Jones :

No you won't because if the value is below £10,000 it will go in the small claims court and there each party pays its own legal costs

Customer:

Ok Thanks

Ben Jones :

you are welcome

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