Currys PC World delaying refunds or replacements for faulty products during pandemic

Currys PC World customers are facing an uphill battle for refunds and replacements for faulty products, leaving many out-of-pocket and with worthless high-value products, a Which? investigation has found.

Customers have told Which? how customer service at the electronics giant has hit rock bottom in recent months. One NHS key worker was left frustrated when her leaking washing machine wasn’t satisfactorily repaired and she ended up waiting months for a goodwill replacement.

Since January, the consumer champion has received more than 1,700 complaints about the electronics retailer – nearly 10 per cent of all complaints Which? has received about faulty goods. Around 1,500 disgruntled customers have also joined a Facebook group called “Currys PC World – where’s my refund” and with around 50-150 joining every week.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, any products customers buy must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If they do not satisfy any of these three criteria, that can be seen as a breach of contract potentially entitling customers to a full or partial refund, replacement or repair – depending on how long they have had the product.

However, Which? has spoken with 20 Currys PC World customers who have struggled to get a refund or replacement for a faulty product and been either fobbed off to the manufacturer or faced lengthy waits. Which? has also heard complaints about failed and delayed deliveries from Currys PC World.

Alison, an NHS admin worker from Staffordshire, was left washing her uniform in the sink as she battled to get a new washing machine when hers started leaking in March.

Currys PC World advised Alison to contact the manufacturer to confirm the fault in the appliance. Despite multiple engineer visits and attempts to repair the leak, Alison continued to experience issues with the machine.

Alison said: “I’ve given Currys a lot of my money (£485), I haven’t got the machine I was expecting. I’m all that money down and no better off.”

Currys PC World has since apologised to Alison for her experience and the manufacturer’s delay in confirming the fault. It has since removed the faulty machine and delivered a new one in November.

An IT student told Which? they missed the start of their second year when Currys PC World wrote off their laptop but promised to send vouchers to purchase a new one. The customer had been paying £9.30 monthly for a care plan with a seven-day fix promise, however the vouchers failed to materialise within 7-days and only arrived six weeks later.

The student, currently at the Open University, said: “They told me the same thing for four weeks, that they’d send it out the next day, but I didn’t receive it.”

Carl Walsh-Harris was locked in a battle with Currys PC World when his 15-month old TV broke due to a manufacturer’s fault, but the retailer only offered to refund £114, despite the TV costing £300.

Currys PC World claimed the TV had lost 62 per cent of its value since it was purchased, however Carl persisted and the retailer eventually agreed to increase his refund to £170 as a goodwill gesture plus £50 he’d spent on an independent engineer’s report.

Carl said: “We were keen to buy a new TV somewhere other than Currys. We’re tired of talking to them, we gave in and accepted their offer.”

Currys PC World has since apologised to Carl for frustration and upset caused, and has refunded him an additional £130 after being contacted by Which?.

In a recent Which? survey on the best places to buy home appliances, Currys PC World finished in 14th place out of 29 companies and received a poor two-stars for its after-sales service and returns.

As Black Friday and Christmas approach, many people will be looking for bargains on electronic goods and appliances, but Which?’s investigation suggests shoppers should factor in Currys PC World’s poor customer service record before committing to a purchase.

Currys PC World customers struggling to get a refund or replacement for a faulty item should make sure they are aware of their rights when approaching the retailer.

If the fault is detected within 30 days, customers are entitled to ask for a full refund, or a repair or replacement. After 30 days, customers are entitled to a repair or replacement. If the retailer can’t fulfil a suitable repair or replacement, customers can then ask for a refund. If customers are within six months of purchasing the item this should be a full refund.

Customers should also check if the product has a manufacturer’s guarantee or warranty if the retailer is refusing to help. Or they can contact their bank to attempt a chargeback or Section 75 claim.

Which? will be sharing its findings with Trading Standards for further investigation, as this research suggests a widespread issue with how Curry PC World handles complaints about faulty products.

Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Expert, said:

“We regularly get complaints about Currys PC World, but the number of problems reported has soared in recent months – suggesting customer service levels have hit rock bottom during the pandemic.

“Customers may be entitled to a replacement or refund if their purchase is faulty or not fit-for-purpose, and should not be fobbed off to manufacturers or face lengthy waits for their money or a new product.

“While the coronavirus pandemic may have impacted deliveries and service earlier this year, many retailers have adapted, improving customer relations and service so Currys PC World has no excuse – it must clean up its act.”

Notes to editor

A spokesperson for Currys PC World said:

“We are truly sorry to customers who haven’t received the standard of customer service we expect of ourselves. While we are fulfilling the vast majority of our services successfully, we appreciate that one complaint is one too many.

“All through the pandemic we have been experiencing unprecedented demand for the vital technology that has been keeping families fed, clean and entertained and helping people work from home.

“Throughout, our greatest concern has been the safety of our colleagues and customers and have had to adapt to new ways of working in a very challenging environment.”

Which? advice for Currys PC World customers:

  • Know your rights to a repair, replacement or refund with faulty goods – If the fault is detected within 30 days, you’re entitled to ask for a full refund, or a repair or replacement. After 30 days, you’re entitled to a repair or replacement. If the retailer can’t fulfil a suitable repair or replacement, you can then ask for a refund. If you are within six months of purchasing the item this should be a full refund.
  • Watch out for sneaky fees – If you’re returning a faulty item you shouldn’t have to pay to send it back. Likewise, you should be reimbursed for an independent engineer’s report if it’s proven that the product is faulty. You also don’t have to pay for repairs or replacements to be installed.
  • Contact your bank – You might be able to get your money back by making a claim with your bank or credit card provider. If you paid with your credit card, You can make a Section 75 claim to try and get the money back in your account. If you paid by debit card you can make a chargeback claim, which is where your bank claws back the money from the recipient.
  • Check if you’ve got a warranty or guarantee – If you discover a fault after the first six months of owning a product, it will be down to you to prove the fault is inherent or was present at the time of purchase, so it might be easier to claim on your warranty or guarantee.
  • Report to Trading Standards – If you continue to face issues, or think the retailer is stopping you from using your consumer rights, you can report it to Trading Standards.

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

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