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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I purchased a Marine satellite communications system in

Customer Question

I purchased a Marine satellite communications system in November 2014 at the Southampton boat show. We informed the retailer that the item was for communication as we cruised around the world and raised a concern regarding repairs if the unit developed a problem. He assured us that the Warranty given by Iridium the provider of the product was very sound and lasted for 5 years. He also pointed to the fact that they had service centres around the world. We paid circa £4000 which included the cost of shipping of the Unit to where our boat was based in Panama, Central America. The unit was delivered to there in late December 2014. In the early 2015 we made modifications to our boat to accomodate the erection of the antenna for the system and completed the erection of the antenna. We made two telephone calls to check the antenna was working. However, the system was not installed for full use which covered Internet access to the world wide web and email communication etc. We were scheduled to sail North and therefore delayed final installation of the system. Due to weather constraints and the onset of the hurricane season we had to abort our journey at the end of May 2015 and return to Panama. On arrival we made two further telephone calls to test the antenna was still in good order. In June 2015 we had to return to the UK for medical reasons. Our intention to stay for 4 months was extended when my husband and then myself underwent testing for Cancer, thankfully and after lengthy investigation we were given the all clear to return to Panama. We were able to return to Panama in February 2016 and were finally able to complete the installation of the equipment by the end of the first week in March 2016. We made 3 further telephone calls and started to configure the system for Web access and email at the end of March. This took time as towards the end of April we started to experience connection problems and the system became unstable making it very difficult. We persevered thinking it might be a static problem or satellite issue, however things started to get worse. On May the 11 2016 we contacted our supplier, he recommended various tests and resets and contacted Iridium for guidance? Finally in June the system died altogether, with them deciding it was an antenna failure.
We were booked to return home in June in preparation for our daughters wedding, so had no time to remove the failed antenna or wait for delivery of a replacement. The triangular dealings with our retailer and Iridium became time consuming and difficult with us feeling we were becoming the guilty party in the event.
Iridium agreed to forward a replacement antenna to Panama, however they would not agree to send it to the place our boat was moored and our retailer told us they would not agree to send an engineer to the location which is an hour by air from Panama City. My husband and I incurred costs in the region of £1000 to collect the antenna from the place the original one had been sent and then transport it to our boat.
We were aware that they wanted the original antenna returned, and we are now being expected to pay a further some of money to cover the cost of this return. In addition we are being threatened by the prospect of paying in full a some of $2850 for the second unit if we do not return it in 30 days. The threat of bailiffs etc has been added to this.
Can you please confirm where we stand with all this under UK laws. Iridium acknowledge in their warranty that where constitutional law protects the purchaser and states replacement of failed units s at no charge this supersedes terms and conditions in their warranty and they say they will reimburse reasonable costs.
Also can you confirm how 'use' of the system would be construed, we have made less that 10 phone calls to test the system as we installed it. The system if for much more than just telephone calls. The warranty is for 5 years. It beggars belief that we are being expectd to pay out a third of the price of the system again.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry to hear of your experience, having purchased this satellite communication system. Based on what you have described, please can you tell me what the ideal outcome would be for you so that I can advise you of your options? Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Under UK law you will have two sets of rights – one against the seller and one against the manufacturer.

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. These laws have now been replaced burpt as they were relevant at the time of purchase they will still apply to you.

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 you change your mind and no longer want the goods.

If the goods are not as described, of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose, you 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 you are too late to reject the goods, you 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.

So you can rely on this to pursue the seller for the replacement and associated costs.

In terms of pursuing the manufacturer your rights are limited to whatever warranty you had in place. That may entitle you to a replacement but without any shipping or installation costs and it will depend on the warranty terms. They would not be expected to cover these if not mentioned as part of the warranty. Remember that the legal right to get a replacement is only against the seller, not the manufacturer.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss what options you have to take this further. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can still 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.