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Consumer Advice

According to research conducted by an organisation call the Ombudsman Services, students are losing money every year through not complaining. This is either because they are not aware that they have a right to complain or because they don’t know how to.

Please see the Ombudsman Services page for more information about how you can complain and save yourself some money.  

How can Student Advice help?

Student Advice can advise you on your legal rights as a consumer. Whether you are buying goods, joining a gym or upgrading your mobile phone, you will be entering into contracts every day. You can contact Student Advice for advice on a range of consumer issues, from problems with faulty goods to advice on your rights to return unwanted items.

Where Student Advice are unable to assist, we can refer or signpost you to the appropriate services. Student Advice can also provide helpful pre-shopping advice to help you know your rights and obligations before you buy or before you sign that contract.

Knowing your rights and obligations beforehand can be a big step towards avoiding unexpected costs, so take advantage of the service offered by Student Advice

The Competition and Markets Authority have provided a useful guide to consumer rights for students that you can download here.

Returning Faulty Goods

If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement.

It doesn't matter whether you bought the item new or second hand you will still have rights.

You’ll have legal rights if the item you bought is:

  • Not of satisfactory quality, i.e. if it is broken or damaged.
  • Not able to be used for the purpose it is meant for.
  • Not as it was advertised and does not fit the description.

You should be aware that if the item is damaged due to accident or misuse on your part, you will not have any legal rights to return it. This will also be the case if you are choosing to return something because you have changed your mind.

If you’ve changed your mind about something you bought in a shop, first check their own policy on returns. Even though they don’t have to do it by law, lots of shops will say you can return items within 14 or sometimes even 30 days, as long they’re not used.

The shop’s returns policy might be written on your receipt, or you could check their website or call your local branch to ask.

Advertised at the wrong price

Legal rights regarding this will depend on whether you have bought the item yet. If you take an item to a checkout and the price on the item is wrong, you do not have to right to buy the item at a lower price.

If you have already bought the item at a lower price due to a mistake being made by the seller, you do not have to give it back. If you have paid more than what the item was advertised for at the time, you can ask the shop for a refund of the difference.

Shopping Online

The law gives you a cooling off period to change your mind about goods you have bought online. The right to cancel starts when you place the order and ends 14 days after the goods arrive. Once you have cancelled you have a further 14 days to return the goods and you should get a full refund within 14 days of return.

Unhappy about poor service

If you have paid for a service to be carried out, for example, a haircut, and it has not been done to a satisfactory standard you can ask the provider of the service to do it again or for a discount on what was paid.

Energy Bills

If for some reason you are struggling to pay your energy bills, it is best to contact the supplier and discuss a way of paying them. The supplier is obliged to help you come up with a payment plan, though you should make sure you find a method that works for you and them.

Your supplier must take into account:

  • how much you can afford to pay - give them details about your income and outgoings, debts and personal circumstances

  • how much energy you’ll use in future - they’ll estimate this based on your past usage, but give them regular meter readings to make this more accurate.

Event Tickets

When you buy a ticket for an event, you sometimes change your mind, or for whatever reason, you may be unable to attend when the time comes.

If you are unable to attend the event or change your mind about attending, you do not have a legal right to a refund. Under the law, you have no cancellation rights once you buy a ticket. Having said this, it is certainly worth checking the small print as your contract with the ticket seller may allow you to return the ticket.

It is also possible to resell your ticket to another person, but it is advised that you check that this is ok with the original ticket seller first.

Lost post

If you are expecting something to arrive and it’s a couple of days past its due date, try not to worry. In many situations, it will turn up soon. There are a number of things that can affect the punctuality of post such as weather or bank holidays.

How long should you expect post to take?

If it was sent with Royal Mail, it’ll be due:

  • the next working day - if it was sent 1st class

  • 3 working days after posting - if it was sent 2nd class

  • on the date the sender requested - if it was sent Special Delivery

If your post still hasn't arrived and you think it has been lost, contact the Royal Mail or whichever postal service was used to see is they can look into the matter.

Cancelling a gym membership

The process of cancelling and your legal rights will change depending on the type of contract you have. Some people will have a contract which involves a direct debit being taken monthly, others may pay for the year.

Your contract with the gym may state that a cancelling fee will be incurred if you are to terminate your membership. It is likely that if you pay for a yearly membership and cancel the membership early, you may not be entitled to have the remainder of the year’s membership refunded.

With memberships where you pay monthly, it is likely that you will have to give a 30 day notice period. Therefore, you will have to pay an extra month membership.

Please note that the terms and conditions of our cancellation will be outlined in your contract or agreement with the gym that you attend. It is important that you read this document before you sign up to anything.

If your mobile phone is lost or stolen

The first thing you should do if you lose your phone or if it has been stolen is, report it to your network provider. They will be able to block it and stop anyone else from using it. If you do not inform them, you run the risk of being liable for the cost of phone calls, messages and data usage that you yourself haven’t used.

Some phones now have tracking devices in them, so your network provider may be able to pinpoint the location of your device.

If you think that your phone was stolen and you have been provided with the location of the device, do not approach the individual. This could be putting yourself at risk of harm.

Contact the police and they will then look into the matter for you.

Your network provider will also give you your phone's identification number (IMEI), which you should pass on to the police.

If you have insurance, you will need to note the crime reference number provided by the police in order to claim.

Avoiding online scams

Citizens advice offers top tips on how to avoid online scams and to cut down the chance of others getting hold of personal information through your computer, tablet or mobile phone. Click here to check these tips out.

Last edited by Sam Munday 13th January 2017