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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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My sister in law, who is a 76 year old widow, living alone

Customer Question

My sister in law, who is a 76 year old widow, living alone and in poor health, let an invalid chair salesman into her home and was subjected to a 21/2 hour pushy and aggressive sales pitch for a " granny chucker" chair . At the time she was on heavy antibiotics for a bad infection and felt very ill
In the end she signed a sales agreement just to be rid of him. He then said she must " pay up front" and took a credit card payment of just over £ 3000 . The chair was delivered but was uncomfortable and not of the correct size. It has been taken back to the factory for " adjustment.. My sister then told the company she rejected the chair and wanted her money back. The company have refused this.
Question. Can a sales contract be considered a valid contract, if one of the partys to the contract is bullied and coerced into signing against their wishes? Does an unwilling party have the capacity to contract?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Before I can look into this further for you, please can you tell me how long ago your sister-in-law purchased the chair?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The original sales call was 1st April 2016.
The chair was delivered in June, but taken back for adjustment about 11th June.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

The contract can still be valid because legally she may still have been deemed to have capacity and if she really did not want to sign it she could have refused to do so. So at some point she would have still voluntarily decided to enter into the agreement, even if it was as a result of a pushy sales pitch. In other words,, she did not have a gun to her head so to speak and was not threatened in any way if she did not sign the contract.

So the way to pursue this would be under consumer legislation because when a consumer makes a purchase from a business seller, they will have certain 'statutory' rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The law states that the goods must be:

· of satisfactory quality – they must not be faulty or damaged when you receive them;

· as described – they must match any description given to you at the time of purchase; and

· fit for purpose – they should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for,

If they do not match the above requirements, she will have certain legal remedies against the seller. Her rights will not be against the manufacturer as they will only be responsible if there was a manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee with the goods. Also note that 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 she changes her mind and no longer wants the goods.

If the goods do not meet the criteria mentioned above, she will have the following rights:

1. Reject them and request a refund - this is only possible if the rejection occurs within 30 days of purchase.

2. Ask for a repair or replacement – if she is too late to reject the goods or does not wish to get a refund straight away, she can ask the seller for a repair or replacement. If a repair has been arranged but has failed, or if a repair or replacement are not possible, she is still entitled to ask for a refund, or a price reduction.

A useful rule is that if a fault appears within the first 6 months after purchase, the law assumes that they did not meet 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 fault occurs more than 6 months after purchase, it would be down to the consumer to prove that they did not meet the statutory requirements set out above at the time of sale.

If there is still time to reject the goods and request a refund, she may do so. If she is outside of the initial 30 days and are too late to reject them, she can still try and resolve this by contacting the seller and asking them for a repair or replacement. She can quote the applicable rights she has under the Consumer Rights Act as mentioned above. If they appear reluctant to assist, write to them one more time, warn them that they have 7 days to comply and inform them that if they fail to meet their legal obligations, she will have no choice but to report them to Trading Standards and start legal proceedings to seek compensation for her losses.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps she can take to pursue the matter further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.