Retail expert Clare Rayner says that PC retailers shouldn’t have anything to worry about alternative dispute resolution (ADR) schemes, but should understand their customers’ rights.
The UK Government outlined proposals for the scheme earlier this month to help consumers resolve a complaint without the cost and hassle of going to court.
The aim is to give shoppers greater access to redress if something goes wrong with their purchase of goods or services.
Rayner told PCR: "It’s very important that anyone in business understands the rights of their customer, and in the case of retailers, the consumer. The Dispute Resolution isn’t about changing any rights that they haven’t already got – it’s more about making it simpler to address the problems that consumers can have with businesses, whether they be large or small.
"Actually, most independent businesses are eager to resolve disputes swiftly and appropriately, within the law, because that customer is of greater value to them in the whole scheme of things than perhaps that customer would be to a big company where losing one or two because you’ve upset them over a dispute makes no difference, but losing one or two to a small independent could mean the difference between being able to pay the rent and not.
"That’s why I don’t there should be anything to worry about, what is important is that independent retailers make sure that they are very aware of the difference between consumer rights, which are covered within the Sale of Goods Act, and there are entitlements within the Sale of Goods Act under the law, and what is merely goodwill policy. As long as they are very clear about that, then they are unlikely to fall into dispute with customers.
Rayner added: "With electricals, of course, there are manufacturer warranties often built-in as well, and they just need to make sure that customers are communicated with in such a way as to make sure that there is no confusion as to what their rights are. For instance, within a year of purchasing branded items, usually a resend or request for repair would have to go via the manufacturer and so on.
"But it varies by brand, so it’s just important that they make their customer aware at the point of purchase as to what their rights are, and don’t leave them with an assumption that just because Dixons might offer a 30-day refund policy, some people assume that that’s their legal right – and it’s not."
Clare Rayner’s Future High Street Summit takes place today and tomorrow (March 26th and 27th)