Cowboys and Crooks

I bought a washing machine in December on Ebay. It’s a special washing machine designed for small spaces or camping. It arrived in a box with the bottom falling off, which I overlooked because I’d got my washing machine. As you do.


Only one problem: it did not work. I contacted the company immediately and got an email back saying ‘please call in January as we are closed for Christmas’. So I did, I called in January and after some pointless faffing about with the machine, as per instructions from the lady on the telephone, she concluded it needed to be returned.  I was told I needed to get some boxes, so that the washing machine could be returned.


After wondering how I could get a box big enough for a washing machine, I called them back and asked them to send me one. A very pleasant young man promised he would do this straight away. He took my name and address over the phone. A week later, I called saying I’d not received the packaging. They apologised, saying ‘whoever it was’ should not have said that, as they don’t have any packaging. I was told if I repackaged it myself, they would collect it. I asked to be reimbursed for costs, as per the Sale of Goods Act 1979. They refused point blank, saying ‘all I had to do’ was collect boxes from a local supermarket and ‘tape them together’. I was not happy with this, but did not know if I had a legal leg to stand on, so agreed. It took a few weeks to get boxes. I bought boxes ready for moving house and thought I might as well use some of those, sellotaped together.


Today, I called and asked how to go about sending it back. They told me to arrange this through a courier, giving me the name of a courier website. £60 was the cheapest option! I tried calling Ebay (finding their phone number is like finding the proverbial needle), who were useless told me to contact the seller direct. So I called the seller back and told them that I wanted to know how to recoup costs from the courier. She suggested a different  courier website. “No,” I said, “I’m not really asking that, I just want to know how I will be reimbursed.”

“You won’t be.” Was the reply. I quoted the Sale of Goods Act 1979, literally quoting from the text, word for word. She flatly denied this applied, but then decided to look up my details, and quoted my email of 22nd December and their reply (an automated reply saying they were out of the office and to call in the New Year). After putting me on hold, she said there was no record of anything since then, no record of the numerous phone calls, and thus they were not responsible for the costs of postage (I could almost hear them laughing in the background as they thought how clever they’d been cooking this up). I politely – I will not descend to rudeness – said it was their choice, either they could pay, as the Sale of Goods Act said they must, or I would contact Trading Standards. No response. So I gave a curt ‘thank you’ and hung up.


You don’t want to mess with me; I know how to win. I’ve been through hell and back. In comparison, this is piffling. But nevertheless it is wrong. First they lie, now they demand I pay something I am not responsible for, as well as charging me for faulty goods. Theft in all but name. We’re not talking an object that only cost a fiver, either. This was a fair bit of money. I wonder how many people they rip off on a daily basis who don’t have the knowledge or wherewithal to fight back? THAT’s what makes me mad. So now I get the chance to see if British justice works in the commercial world. Worth a try…?