No refunds, dry cleaners who don't accept responsibility for zips, gyms who say they are not responsible for accidents. These are all illegal. Tina Leonard investigates your rights for Pat Kenny

Under the Consumer Protection Act 2007, it is illegal for an advertiser or business to make false or misleading claims about goods, services or prices.

All types of communications that promote goods or services are covered by the Act, including:

  • Adverts
     
  • Notice in a shop
     
  • Verbal claims made by a sales assistant about a product or service

We spoke about claims that should not be made in ads on the programme before but here are some notices in shops that you should not see.

Signs that are illegal

  • No refunds / No refunds or exchanges - this is illegal as you are entitled to a refund of exchange if the product is faulty or not as described.

If the sign says ‘no refunds – this does not effect your statutory rights’ then that is okay. This is because you are not entitled to return or exchange something because you don’t like it; that is up to the shop’s own returns policy.

  • No refunds on sale items

This is also illegal as your statutory rights are exactly the same as they are in a sale.

Again if the shop points out that ‘this does not effect your statutory rights’  then that is legal. The shop can adopt whatever policy it wants for returns on unwanted items, and some do change their returns policies during sale periods.

  • Dry Cleaners - We do not accept responsibility for damaged buttons or zips

This is illegal. A dry cleaner must carry out the service with the necessary skill, care and diligence and if they damage your clothes they must provide a remedy.

Dry cleaners sometimes blame incorrect instructions on the label, but unless your garment has an incorrect label attached, if they followed the instructions carefully, the item shouldn’t have been damaged.

If this happens to you, you should expect the item to be repaired (if possible), or to get a full or partial re-imbursement for the price of the garment depending on its age. Plus you’ll need proof of the cost of the item.

Sometimes for delicate items a dry cleaner may ask you to sign a waiver, agreeing that if they damage the item they are not responsible, so think carefully before you sign it.

  • Gym – Management not responsible for accidents

- In fact the management could well be responsible for accidents in some situations so they should not say this.

  • Offers – Special introductory offer of €9.99

This is not enough. The sign must indicate when the offer will end and indicate the retail price after the promotion has ended.

  • Offers – 70% off or even 20% off 

70% off what? Firstly in this case there should be a reasonable amount of stock selling at 70% off and secondly the original full price should also be shown.

  • Offers – Closing down sale

- That’s fine if the shop is closing down but the sign should also tell you when the shop is closing down. A shop cannot ‘pretend’ it is closing down in order to get you in the door, and you have to know how long the shop will be open for so that you don’t feel under any pressure to buy straight away. A shop that says it has a closing down sale week after week is breaking the law.

  • Bait – this year’s model only €500

-This is fine if every single model of this year’s product is on sale at €500. However sometimes the seller is using this trick as bait to get you into their store. Once inside you’ll be advised that the product is no longer in stock and then be actively encouraged to purchase a different product. This tactic is called “bait and switch”.

If you see a sign that you think shouldn’t be there, say it to the manager and also alert the National Consumer Agency.