The government’s ‘one solution fits all’ approach to its new Consumer Rights Bill has been criticised by a spokesperson for Triton Showers.
Lorna Fellowes, managing director, believes the decision to introduce a 30 day short term right to reject goods deemed substandard by the consumer could see plumbing and heating appliance manufacturers faced with a surge in the return of used products.
Ms Fellowes said: “The government’s decision to update the Consumer Rights Bill and extend the ‘reasonable time’ for the return of a product deemed faulty or substandard to 30 days could prove to be a major headache for manufacturers of a number of different fitted household appliances. What we now have is a Bill which fails to recognise the difference between those products which are susceptible to contamination and those which can be resold with ease.
“Products installed within the home and connected to a mains water, gas, or electricity supply run the risk of being installed incorrectly, soiled or damaged and then returned to the manufacturer within 30 days under the label of a ‘substandard’ product.
“We’re also in a position where the consumer has now been allowed an automatic right to reject the product if a fault appears in the first six months and if more than one fault occurs over the life of the product, even if they are not related. Disappointingly, manufacturers may not be given the chance to verify the presence of a fault before the customer takes action and returns their product.”
Ms Fellowes added: “The Bill’s ‘right to reject’ is open to misinterpretation and has the potential to leave manufacturers of showers and numerous other home appliances with the burden of a huge increase in returned products which cannot be resold. Every appliance has a specification it should fulfil and it would make sense to include some kind of assessment prior to the product being returned to the manufacturer. This would guarantee that only genuinely faulty products would be returned and replaced.”
Ms Fellowes also believes the revised Consumer Rights Bill shows a discrepancy between its intended support for the consumer and manufacturers’ waste to landfill targets.
She said: “Manufacturers are being encouraged to make the components of their products more environmentally friendly and significantly reduce the waste we send to landfill, yet customers can now return products they deem substandard even when that may not be the case. Given the likelihood that neglected products will wrongly be returned to manufacturers and have to be disposed of rather than reused, it would be fair to say we may take a step backwards in respect of EU recycling directives.
“There is undoubtedly a need to offer a legal framework to support consumers in the event they purchase faulty goods, but it seems the latest update to the Consumer Rights Bill takes this stance one step too far. Manufacturers need an arrangement which minimises the risk of such a huge increase in the number of products returned mistakenly.”