Returns of fashion often top 30% of sales. The volume of e-commerce returns is worrying for major brands so perhaps you should be expecting a backlash. Are your legal rights at risk? While many brands have rules about returns policy, it should be a different story if there’s a product defect. You have rights. Read on to learn about what to do when you purchase a faulty product:
What Is a Product Defect?
There are three types of defects that products may have. A defect in the design of a product, a defect in its manufacture or a defect in the warnings or instructions that come with the product.
A design defect could result in a failure of the product in some way that arises out of inadequate design. A chair that is not designed to bear the weight of most users has a design defect. The design should anticipate how the chair will be used and make provision for it in order to avoid accidents and injuries.
A manufacturing defect is introduced at the manufacturing stage. If a chair leg is not correctly fitted during manufacture it may fail later when it is used. This may result in an accident and a serious injury.
A defect in warnings may appear only in information that is delivered with the product. For example, if the care instructions for the chair say that it is fine to clean it with water but in fact, this is not true, this is a defect of instructions.
Your Rights to Return and Get a Refund
Retailers may have their own returns and refund policies. They may also offer warranties. These may be helpful and even generous. You may have further rights under federal and state laws.
Retailers are required by the law to accept returns and refund you your money if the product they sold you is defective or if they broke the sales contract with you in some other way. This is irrespective of their policy on returns and refunds.
There is a “cooling-off-rule” which gives you three days to change your mind about a purchase of over $25. This does not apply to sales from the retailer’s normal retail location but it does apply to sales made in your home or workplace.
There may also be consumer rights under state laws.
Accidents and Injuries
If an accident or injury occurs due to a defective product you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. The law can be complex in this area.
The two main principles are these. Negligence and strict liability.
If a product is defective and there has been some harm caused to you, you may be able to claim damages if someone has been negligent. For example, if you used the chair and you sustained an injury when it broke, you could make a claim. If there was a defect in manufacture you may be able to claim damages from the manufacturer.
It may not be necessary to prove that there was negligence. A manufacturer has strict liability for product defects even if they took care to avoid them.
Get Legal Help?
Legal remedies are complex and retailers and manufacturers employ lawyers to defend themselves. Take advice if you think you may have a case. A law firm such as Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP will provide you with a free case review.
Know Your Rights
You will make many purchases with no product defect. Many retailers will honor their obligations to you should something go wrong. Just occasionally, you’ll be glad you know your rights.
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*This article was contributed.