This e-mail came through from a ValueIreland.com reader in the past week or so.
My wife bought a guitar for my son, from Smyths toys store in Dundalk. When she got home, my daughter tried to tune it and the strings broke. Upon returning the guitar to the store (next day) they refused to exchange or to give any refund. The manager accused us of breaking it and she claims that under their product policy, we the consumer is at fault. They refused to accept that the unit could be at fault (perhaps bad quality strings were used by the manufacturer) due to manufacturer poor quality assurance. My wife contacted the main Smyths customer support same day and lodged the same complaint via telephone and they have told her the same. Could you please inform me what are our rights as consumers when the store and the establishment behind it refuse to acknowledge that the unit could be faulty. I like to know how we can take the complaint to the next level. It is worth mentioning that we have been buying quite a lot from the shop and now I am reluctant to buy anything from there or any other retailer in the south since the customer support is so bad and their treatment of customers is so appalling.
I like to inform you and all who want to buy guitars be aware of this bad policy and think perhaps before buying anything from Smyths. I do not know if there are any sites that is used to name and shame the stores with such customer support.
And here’s what my thoughts were with regards to what the reader could do when going back to Smyths Toys:
In my opinion, based on what you’ve included in your e-mail, you are definitely entitled to better treatment by Smyths Toys. Under consumer legislation, a product must be fit for purpose and of merchantable quality (i.e. good quality), and if not, then the consumer is entitled to a repair, refund or replacement.
In this situation, assuming that your daughter didn’t completely abuse the guitar when she was trying to tune it, then Smyths Toys should offer to at least repair the strings, and failing that they should replace the item. It can be argued that if the strings broke so easily that the item wasn’t of merchantable quality in the first place, and on top of that, given the fact that a child, using the guitar in the manner that would be normally expected, it’s not now fit for purpose.
There is more information on the National Consumer Agency website on your rights as a consumer – click here for the details.
To address this with Smyths Toys now, you should first of all get back in touch with them – both in the shop and their head office, and explain that you’re now fully aware of your rights as a consumer, and that based on that, you’d like to give them the opportunity to address the situation by either having them fix the guitar, replacing it with a new one, or giving you a refund. Remember, they’re entitled to offer you any one of the three as a resolution – but also remember, you’re entitled to a cash refund rather than a credit note.
You should explain to them that you have been a loyal customer, and that you’re quite disappointed in what’s happening at the moment. It might do no harm either to mention that you’ve contacted ValueIreland.com and that there’ll be a story published in the next week on what they’ve done so far.
If Smyths Toys still refuse to help you out, then you should first of all contact the National Consumer Agency to see what they have to say. I’m not a big fan of the NCA, but technically they’re the people to talk to about such things. If they can’t/won’t help, and if Smyths Toys still don’t fix the problem, then you’re final option is to go through the Small Claims Court to try to get your money back.
I’ve asked the reader to let me know how they get on – hopefully Smyths Toys will see the error of their ways.