You march, jaw set and determined, into your local dealers. With a gimlet stare you demand your money back. You are then told to sod off. There are more urban myths and false expectations about what your consumer rights are than in just about any other field of law.
I once defended a claim brought by/for a disgruntled motorcyclist who bought a hypersports bike for track days. He got somebody else to adjust his suspension, change the pipes and then got the bike resprayed. He then decided he wanted his money back.
He was so convinced that he was right to ‘reject’ the bike as he felt it was rough to ride on bumpy roads that he actually took the dealer to Court. Luckily for him, once the Judge had pointed out the errors in his case, the dealership let him quietly discontinue his case.
He was still convinced that if he was unhappy with his purchase he was well within his rights to get his money back. So what exactly are your rights?
If you buy a consumer item, be it a £12,000 bike or a £35 pair of gloves, if it is not fit for purpose, or if it is misdescribed or does not meet reasonable expectations as to quality or durability; you have the right to reject it in the first six months. You do not get to decide what reasonable is, nor does trading standards. The Judge does.
Reasonableness is the key concept. If you buy cheap PVC over trousers your reasonable expectations of those will be a lot lower than Rukka trousers. Judges, contrary to widely held opinion are neither stupid nor detached from the real world.
So if you buy a helmet and then decide that it makes too much wind noise you do not have the right to be reimbursed. If the visor falls off, you do have the right to reject. It is not a case of buyer beware. The tests for demanding your money back is not ‘I do not like it anymore’ or ‘I did not try it on and it does not fit’. However most bike dealerships trade on reputation so a reasonable stance is a better bet than striding in knowing your rights because I know your rights, and they are not quite as strong as you might think they are.
Make it easy for the dealer to give you your money back by returning goods which he can then resell. Shouting the odds always gets an equal and opposite reaction. And unless you really know your rights and are prepared to enforce them, making it easy for the dealer to reimburse you is always a better plan.
Andrew Dalton, Senior Partner
Bike Magazine March 2015