Damaged bag: trader’s obligations
Q: We have a company that mainly sells designer leather goods. We face problems with certain clients who return goods in a damaged condition and say that the damage occurred during the guarantee period.
Actually, we do not give guarantees on any items sold from our outlet, but in order to satisfy clients, we tend to close one eye and help them as much as we can to keep them happy.
We recently had a client who claimed her bag got damaged and wanted this to be sent to the company in France and have it either repaired free of charge or changed with a new one.
The main problem is that this particular item costs just over €50, and to send it by courier service and have it returned, postal charges alone would amount to around €50.
Upon asking for a receipt, I was told the bag was a present from a friend and was given to the client about a year ago.
We do not know who is right in this particular case. Could you guide us as to what we are supposed to do in such a situation?
A: First of all, I would like to refer to your comment – that that you “do not give guarantees on any items sold”. Kindly note that there is the two-year legal protection of the Consumer Affairs Act.
This is not a guarantee traders can decided whether to offer their clients or not. This protection gives consumers the right to claim a remedy if the goods purchased are not in conformity with the contract of sale.
In other words, the goods consumers buy should comply with the description given by the trader and possess the characteristics, features and qualities the trader has promised or shown through a sample. Goods sold should also be fit for the particular purpose for which consumers require them and which they would have spoken about to the trader during the sale. Besides, goods should also be fit for all their normal purposes.
With regard to the damaged bag you mentioned, and whether or not you should provide compensation, it basically depends on whether the damage was caused by the client or not.
Is it a case of misuse? If the damage was not caused by the client, then legally your client should either have the bag repaired or replaced. If these two remedies are not possible, the client is entitled to a cash refund.
Regarding the fact that the client does not have a receipt, the purpose of the receipt in consumer claims is to provide proof that the bag was purchased from a particular shop not more than two years ago.
Since you sell designer leather goods, it should not be difficult to determine whether the bag was purchased from your shop or not, and also the date when it was purchased.