I tend to know Xmas is approaching when either of 2 things happen - the PC madness banning Xmas myths appear and my electrical goods start to pack up just in time for the sales. In the past week I had problems with my laptop and my camera. Fortunately both are still protected that wonderful John Lewis warranty.
This precludes the need to have the usual conversation I used to have at Dixons type box sellers.
'Sorry, but you should have signed up for a 3 year warranty'
'Well actually you were only trying to flog an extra 2 years warranty as I was already covered for 1.'
Pause while gears begin to whir. The realisation comes slower than the movement of the Arctic tundra.
'yeh but it's not covered no more as it expired in February. Now is April.
'So you're aware of my rights under the Sale of Goods Act?'
Pause. 'Not sure if this applies to us. I'll check. '
After a 10 minute wait which feels like I'm the office junior being sent to the DIY store for a long stand, he returns and confirms that Sue has told him to tell me that I was correct.
This is going to be painful.
'Right now we've established that English law has not been circumvented by you, what can you do about the said item?'
I'd be happy with a repair but Namebadgeman trumps me. We'll just replace it. Easier paperwork. Perhaps he spotted my court file. Perhaps Sue knew a nark when she heard about one.
You see what consumers (and assistants) sometimes forget is that the 12 months guarantee is just a handy starting point. The concept of reasonableness is one that troubles every law student at some point.
What is firmly established is that we have a reasonable expectation that our goods should last some time. This is the case notwithstanding our increasingly built-in obsolescence society and the eagerness of poorly paid assistants to flog commission-gaining warranties for half the price of replacement.
In some respects this obsolescence is a natural progression of technology. Having begun life as a Luddite I quickly discovered gadget addiction. Whilst I'm not an early adopter freak I've lost count of the mobile phones I've had; my first one was bought by employers and people used to stare when it rang on the train. Now my mother has last year's model and I'm writing this from my iPhone.
I bought a microwave oven with my first student grant cheque and I'm reliably informed that this is still working and on its fourth owner - some 20+ years on. Similarly, most of my hi-fi I had as a teenager forms part of my sound system.
So don't be fobbed off this Winterval, make sure you know your rights. Try to dress like a Solicitor and look menacing. Tell them Eric The Fish sent you.
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