Your consumer rights questions answered

Beds and bikinis and a rude awakening for an internet shopper

Q. I ordered a mattress for £609 from Bedworks in Blackburn ( They wrote to tell me they were going into administration, but still appear to be trading. The firm supposedly handling the insolvency was Campbell Crossley & Davis, based in Blackpool.

At around the same time, I also ordered a bikini from Silkpeach ( The owner called us to say the shop was having a refit and the electronic payment terminals were down, so could we send a cheque. We duly did; he said he would dispatch the goods. The bikini never turned up. SG, East Dulwich, South London

A. No sooner do we get comfortable with buying online than cases like this appear, showing the potential perils of dealing with smaller internet traders. There may be a ray of hope in the case of Silkpeach, who have told us they have your order on file and have promised to send a cheque refunding your money in full. Your recent experience may not instil confidence, so please let us know if the cheque doesn't arrive.

Silkpeach has at least put a block on its website to ensure no new customers can enter payment details. Not so Bedworks. Until relatively recently it was possible to get as far as the payment screen, though the site now appears to have been disabled. According to Campbell Crossley & Davis, the company is not officially in administration and so should be subject to the usual consumer regulations. Theoretically, therefore, you can claim that by failing to deliver the mattress it is in breach of contract and ask for a refund. However, given that none of the numbers on the website was operational and Companies House holds only an address, this may be unproductive. We have sent a letter and await a response.

Frank Shepherd at government advice organisation Consumer Direct (www.consumerdirect.; 0845 404 0506) says: "A better alternative is that if you paid by credit card and the item cost over £100, you are entitled to claim against your card firm, which is jointly and equally liable under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

"If the company does go into administration, you can log a claim with the administrators," he adds. "But be aware that the process can be very time-consuming."

Mr Shepherd also advises that internet purchases are covered by the EU's Distance Selling Regulations. Under these rules, a firm must deliver the ordered goods within 30 days. Otherwise, you have the right to cancel and should receive a full refund in the next 30 days.

Q. I upgraded my T-Mobile with Fonehouse to the T-Mobile MDA Vario 3. I soon noticed a hair-like substance inside the screen. As the phone was working fine, I ignored it. The performance deteriorated. I called T-Mobile and was told to return it. The shop told me it was cracked and they would not replace it. I was reading up and, under the Sale of Goods Act, I believe I should be given a replacement. SB, Central London

A. Under the Sale of Goods Act, products need to be of a decent quality when sold. In other words, they should work and be as described. But your rights are not unlimited and there is always the thorny issue of proof. This case illustrates the point.

If a problem is noticed straight after a purchase, there is only a small window of opportunity to return it to the shop, formally "reject" the item and claim a full refund.

Mr Shepherd at Consumer Direct says: "If you are deemed to have 'accepted' the goods [for example by using them for a time], you lose your right to reject them, though you may be able to claim for a repair or replacement. If this is in the first six months after purchase, the burden is on the trader to prove the defect was not present at the time of sale."

In this case, it appears the fault appeared after the sale, so the issue is over a claim for a repair. Fonehouse acted correctly in going on to put you back in touch with the manufacturer and even paying your postage. When the phone was returned, the manufacturer agreed with Fonehouse that the problem was a crack.

It may still be worth going back to the manufacturer and asking it to check again. Failing that, your only option is to pay for a repair to the screen.

Ideally, retailers should warn you that something so expensive can also be a bit flimsy, but it is not an obligation. This is why they offer insurance.

Although it may not help in your case, a lesson from this is to check goods immediately and not accept faulty ones. If something is expensive, it should be fully insured.

Consumer Direct suggests putting complaints in writing, sending them by recorded delivery and keeping copies.

Q. I have a Bradford & Bingley online savings account. Not too long ago, the bank introduced a new internet savings account that looked remarkably similar but had a higher interest rate. I asked about it and they changed my account across. As an existing customer, shouldn't my bank be obliged to tell me automatically if there are higher-paying savings accounts, rather than me having to look for myself? SR, Harpenden, Herts

A. It would be nice to think that banks paid as much attention to looking after their existing customers as bringing in new ones. However, it is more realistic to conclude that banks will do what they can to ensure they achieve maximum profit.

It would scarcely be in their interest for everyone to convert to their sparkly new savings rates, so they don't automatically move existing savers. They wait for them to find out of their own accord and make a fuss, as you have done.

Brian Capon at the British Bankers' Association says that according to the Banking Code: "Customers who have a variable-rate savings account with £250 or more will be advised by the bank if the interest rate has fallen significantly compared with the Bank of England base rate [0.5 per cent or more]. The bank will also provide information about other savings accounts it offers and help the customer to switch to another account or withdraw the money if they prefer. The bank will give the customer a reasonable period of time [at least 60 days] to do this, during which it will waive any required notice period or charges."

On a general note, consumers should be wary of simply chasing high rates. Some accounts will only pay interest annually, leaving savers with a smaller return than deals with lower rates where the interest is calculated daily or monthly. Financial analyst Moneyfacts (; 0845 168 9689) now prints a list of the most consistent accounts.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent