If a customer receives a product with cosmetic damage, often they want to keep the product but expect a partial refund from customer services. This our Customer Services deal with.

What if there is physical damage to the product but the customer wants to keep, along with a partial refund. Some products are not suitable to be used if damaged due to safety risks, for example mains powered electricals or toys for young children. How do other members handle this?

 Some possible options we have been discussing:

  • Do not issue partial refunds on any damaged goods
  • Have an internal system to classify which products cannot be used if received damaged
  • Offer partial refunds on all damaged goods and place the legal burden on the customer to determine if the product is suitable to be used

The member is new into this area and would welcome member input

Member Comment

1.   As an on-line retailer we make decisions based on the feedback of the customer and their judgement on whether a product is suitable to use.

For products that have minor cosmetic defects e.g. a scratch, blemish, mark etc. we offer a small discount off the retail price across all of our offer.
For bigger products such as furniture and white goods we offer a similar discount or the option of a repair where possible.

2.   Thank you too to the Member who spoke directly to the member who raised the question.

BRC Comment

Please note that this is not really a question for the Buying Community; we have a Legal Community here to answer this type of question. Members are free to join any of the BRC community’s - just ask. Indeed you are likely to have a colleague who is already in this community.

Given consumer rights

  • It is illegal as you know to sell an unsafe product so it should not be a matter of a partial refund but in that case a requirement to replace or refund.
  • If the damage is cosmetic, then the customer can either reject the product in return for their money back or agree a partial refund or if purchased online reject the product under withdrawal rights.
  • If the product is damaged but is still safe to use and the customer wishes to keep it, then a partial refund should be agreed and effectively the customer has decided the product is fit for purpose by indicating a desire to keep it.
  • If the product was sold as not perfect but is safe and the problem was explained to the customer, there is no further obligation on the retailer.

We also consulted a Primary Authority for their view. You have a Authority Relationship who should be able to provide you with unbiased assured advice on this issue.

Having said that, their advice given to us was that when selling goods to consumers, all goods need to comply with all the applicable Safety Regulations at the point of purchase. Nowhere within any safety regulation does it say this can be waived.

Customers and Customer Services personnel will not in general have sufficient expertise to make safety decisions.