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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71401
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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We have a shop selling replacement kitchen cabinet doors and

Customer Question

We have a shop selling replacement kitchen cabinet doors and a customer is complaining about what we sold her and saying we mis-represented our products. She took over 6 weeks to choose the final colour she wanted and came into the shop innumerable times and changed her from her original choice of grey to a bright ultra-gloss white. This bright white appears to reflect the warm tones in her kitchen and she originally said that it wasn't the same door as in our shop under the cool white lights it looks very bright. We have a complete kitchen display of this door and it is very evident that it reflects what is around it, as you can clearly see greyish tones in the base doors on our display as our floor and units beside the kitchen are grey. The wall units look very white as they have nothing to reflect except white walls. The customer came into the shop after we had fitted her replacement doors and did then agree that they were the same doors when a comparison was made (we had a spare door which was brought back from the customer's job) but she then said we should have told her that the doors would look different in her home. She wanted one of us to go to her house and look at the doors but we felt the best thing to do would be to ask a representative of the door manufacturers to visit her and give his opinion, which he did and agreed to send the spare door back to the factory to see whether there was anything wrong with it as he felt that this would then prove conclusively to the customer that it was the same door. Unfortunately she is still not happy and blaming us. It is clear in the pictures of her kitchen BEFORE we changed her doors that there were warm tones reflecting in her stainless steel appliances and her previous gloss white vinyl doors (which themselves had aged and gone a more beige colour). Just to clarify, her previous doors were gloss vinyl which is shiny-ish and somewhat reflective, whereas the new doors she chose are acrylic ultra gloss which is almost mirror-like in its reflectiveness and this can clearly be seen in and on our showroom kitchen display. We have tried to answer her anxieties and explain everything but she takes everything out of context and I just don't know how to respond to her now. Considering the number of times she came into the shop - and she also brought her husband with her on two occasions to help her to choose, I fail to see how she cannot have noticed the ultra-shine and reflections on the doors. We have done a simple door swap, we haven't replaced her worktops which are dark granite, we haven't replaced her floor (which was done after we supplied and installed the doors) and neither have we advised on colour-schemes for her kitchen at all. In fact had she asked us, we would normally say to people to have a new colour rather than the same as before as even if the new doors look fresher they don't really look like a 'new' kitchen if they are very similar. After having received her first complaint, we spoke to our fitter as he had to go back to affix end panels after hew new floor had been laid (this was her choice to have the doors fitted and for us to return after her Amtico floor had been laid). Our fitter noticed that her lights were a very warm tone and so I mentioned when responding to her that maybe she should get cool white bulbs the same as in our studio which may help and that her floor was a warm tone whereas ours in the shop is grey. When she replied to my email she said she was appalled that I should suggest she had to change her flooring and lights to get the colour she wanted - I was merely suggesting reasons why her doors may appear to reflect warmer tones.What I really need to know from a legal standpoint is where we stand. We feel we cannot be held responsible for her colour-scheme at home, and as she is the first person to have brought these particular 'Glacier White' doors we have no experience other than that of our showroom display of how these doors look in situ. This Glacier White colour is new to the range, but there has been an Ultra-gloss White which isn't so glaringly bright ever since the range was launched 7 or 8 years at least ago, and not one customer has ever complained about reflections or that it isn't the same door. Attached is 'old kitchen with pinkish hue' and 'fridge with pink stripe' which are both of the kitchen before we started and which show the warmth tones in her kitchen. There are also 3 photos called new wall units which were sent by the customer to show her concerns and which, in my view, are actually whiter than the previous kitchen.
Submitted: 20 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Hi there. Please clarify what the customer is now actually wanting and when exactly did she purchase the doors and have them fitted?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Also, what is your refund/exchange policy?

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
I don't really know what she wants - she has mentioned compensation in the guise of 'therefore if you're not willing to compensate me for this matter I'll have to consider my options for taking it further'. I can send you some of her email if it helps and our responses?We would only refund if goods are proven to be faulty, which these aren't, and as everything is made to measure not bought off the shelf we can't really exchange. And there really is nothing wrong with what she has bought, we get the distinct feeling she regrets having purchased white doors again and now blames us. If you look at the pictures you can see that her pictures of the new doors show less warm tones that our pictures of her old kitchen. We can't see quite where she is coming from.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

That's OK for now and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
In fact I don't think we have ever refunded a customer, we prefer to remake and refit if there is anything the customer isn't happy with. And this has never been about colour, we have just remade 4 doors for a customer as her old kitchen cabinets were bowed at the bottom and so we needed slightly longer doors to hide cover the bowing which was only evident when the new doors were installed (over 20 in the complete job).
Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Thank you. I look forward to your response.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

When a private consumer makes a purchase from a business seller, they have certain 'statutory' rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If you wanted to refer to the legislation directly, please follow this link:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/contents/enacted

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 specifically states that there is an expectation that goods must be:

- of satisfactory quality – they must not be faulty or damaged

- as described – they must match any description given at the time of purchase

- fit for purpose – they should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for

If they do not meet the above requirements, the consumer will have certain legal remedies against the seller. So the key is whether the customer can show that any of the above grounds applied. If you had the units on display in your showroom and the customer had the chance to inspect them before ordering and you supplied the exact same units, it will be difficult for them to argue the legal requirements are not met, as long as they work normally, their quality is reasonable and they were fitted properly.

If the goods do not meet any of the above criteria, the consumer’s rights against the seller are:

1. Reject the goods and request a refund – this is known as the ‘short-term right to reject’ and must be applied within 30 days of purchase or, if later, delivery.

2. Repair or replacement – this is still an option in the first 30 days, if the consumer does not want a refund and becomes the standard options after the 30 days have passed. It is the consumer’s choice as to whether they choose a repair or a replacement. If a repair is chosen, the seller is given one opportunity to provide a satisfactory repair, meaning that if it fails, the goods can still be rejected for a refund, even after the initial 30 days have passed. Alternatively, if the consumer wants to keep the goods, they can ask for a price reduction, based on what is wrong with them. That is something to be negotiated with the seller.

If it is a case of the surroundings being different in the showroom and her home, that does not mean there is anything wrong with the units. She should have taken a sample home to see what it would be like in these surroundings and it is not your fault that this issue has occurred.

It is up to you how to proceed now, you could negotiate with her to try and reach an amicable resolution but if that is not possible then the ball is in her court and she will have to decide whether to take this further legally and pursue her case, which due to the above, will not necessarily be easy for her to do.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Thank you. The doors were so new that we didn't have a sample for her to take home. These are only replacement doors and the cabinets are her existing ones. I do not feel that we should or even could negotiate with her to reach an amicable resolution as every comment we make she takes out of context. I am quite sure that if we tried to negotiate she would leap on us and say we had admitted that our doors were faulty, which is exactly what she did when I made a comment bout the doors looking warmer in her kitchen that our showroom due perhaps to the lighting. We spoke to the fitter again this morning and he re-iterated that with her ceiling lights emitting a very warm light this is a large contributory factor and he had himself mentioned to her that she should think about changing the bulbs to LED cool white to help allieviate the problem. So I will email her back again and say that we are standing by our product and that we are unable to offer any compensation as according to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 our goods are of satisfactory quality, they are as described (the description matches the doors, it's just her warm lighting and possibly her flooring that change their colour) and they are most certainly fit for purpose. I assume that this will cover us? If not what would you suggest we say to her?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Hello, thank you for your further queries, I will be happy to answer these. All you can do in the circumstances is stand your ground and point her to the legal position which she cannot really meet and therefore means she cannot legally pursue you. However, as mentioned, it is up to her to decide what to do and whether to take it further and for the time being you just have to be very clear about your position

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Thank you. I will do that. Hopefully she will then take the time to enjoy her new look kitchen which does in fact look very good.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

You are most welcome. If you have any further questions about this then please do not hesitate to get back to me and I will be glad to help. All the best