Trying to find shoes that fit me is really hard work, so it is something that I try to avoid.
So when the time comes to get replacement shoes, I will go for the easy option of trainers.
A few years ago, I purchased some cheap trainers, in a supermarket, for £5.
Now you might be thinking “what quality can you get for only £5?”, but to begin with I enjoyed them.
Fast forward a couple of months, and the weather starts to get warmer.
Unfortunately the glue that held the insoles in place started melting, which meant the insoles started sliding around inside the trainers.
Far from ideal.
So I returned the trainers, complete with receipt, to the in store customer services desk.
It was the sort of customer services desk that was also a kiosk, that is only manned by one person, so I had to wait for them to finish serving at the kiosk before they could get to me.
The young lady didn’t know what to do with my return and was going to call somebody over to help deal with my request.
You can imagine my surprise when Security came over asking fairly aggressively about my refund.
Saying things like:
- “What do you expect for £5?”
- “You’ve worn them for 3 months”
- “You must walk funny”
My point was that under the Sale of Goods Act the shoes had to be “Satisfactory quality” and “Fit for purpose”.
The Act provides an objective test to determine satisfactory quality; the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the price, description and any other relevant factors
Now if the trainers had worn out, then maybe I’d have agreed that I’d got my £5 worth out of the shoes.
However my point was that the glue was melting at body temperature, and that was a product defect.
At this point the deputy manager joins in, and after we go over the same points again, basically states that their position is that they will not give me a refund.
Seeing as we were getting nowhere I left the store, but not defeated.
I wrote to their head office, and stated exactly what had happened.
A week later I received an apology, a £5 gift card, and the written assurance that if I tried to return the trainers again they would be accepted.
Sceptically I returned the store (with the letter, just in case), and to my surprise they refunded me without question.
When telling people this story, the most frequent question I get is “why bother?”
After all, they say, it was only £5, to get quality trainers I should have spent more.
I tell these people that it is all about the principle, but more importantly if you don’t practice standing up for your rights with the little things, then you won’t know what to do when it really matters.