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Topic # 204880 21-Oct-2016 11:54
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I came across this article in The Times and thought it might start a worthwhile discussion here. Let us see...!

 

 

 

"With the fortunes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 reaching a low point after airlines banned passengers from taking the smartphones onboard, the company’s customers have probably reached the end of their tether.

 

However, how painful the consumer experience is — and whether you can secure compensation or a remedy — will depend on where you live and how you made your purchase. Samsung has had positive comments for being proactive in stopping sales of the Note 7 and offering to replace them with other Samsung models or even alternative brands. In other cases of product failure, however, there is often a baffling series of barriers to be crossed.

 

“I do a lot of international product liability work and there are two completely different experiences between the US and the rest of the world — which, in practice, means the UK and Europe,” says Shane Sayers, of Kennedys. “In the UK, if there’s a problem with a product then you get an offer to fix and that’s all. In the US you will get much more in terms of compensation and you will get it much faster.”

 

As Russell Williamson, of Bird & Bird, points out, in America the consumer is “king” and this is embodied in the vigorous actions of its regulator, the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is seen most vividly in the difference in approach between the UK and the US in how the VW emissions scandal is being handled. In the US the company has allocated $15 billion (£12 billion) to buy back the cars and give compensation — there is no such prospect in the UK.

 

“There is a much more aggressive attitude to consumer protection in the US,” says Jonathan Bellamy, a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers. “America has a history of class actions, tort claims and charges being laid for products that have been misdescribed. There have even been suggestions of a fraud claim against VW.”

 

In the UK the company’s view is that no laws have been broken, the vehicles are not unsafe and there is no impact on their residual value (ie, when resold). All that is being offered is a recall to take corrective action — but even that process is running way behind schedule.

 

Patience in government may be evaporating — Department for Transport officials have said that they find it “unacceptable” that Volkswagen has dragged its heels for so long — but any action needs to have a legal and institutional basis. That is why, although Slater and Gordon reports that it has thousands of VW owners registered and ready to sue VW, the manufacturer’s lack of candour about the impact any fix has on engine performance is frustrating and delaying consumers’ ability to get redress. “What we are waiting for is some hard research results and expert evidence of loss of performance — such as poorer MPG [miles per gallon] — by the vehicles subsequent to remedial work,” says the firm’s Gareth Pope. “Once that surfaces we’ll be in a position to take action in conjunction with other claimant firms.” So unless the government does something dramatic, we could be in stasis for some time.

 

“There are no personal injury issues and the company is still firmly denying liability,” says Thomas Jervis, of Leigh Day. “Meanwhile, product recall in the UK is a shambles.”

 

Whether the British product recall system can be improved is another issue. Last year the consumer rights campaigner Lynn Faulds Wood was appointed by the government to lead an independent review of how it works and how it might be improved. A number of recommendations were made, including creating a centre of excellence to co-ordinate operations and the setting up of an “official trusted website” as a source of information. The government response was warm in words from Anna Soubry, at the time minister for small business, industry and enterprise, but, in effect, Jervis says, the recommendations were kicked into the long grass.

 

Where some progress has been achieved, however, is in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which has simplified the legal landscape by bringing together in a single place most of the relevant consumer legislation, says Jenna Rennie, of Bird & Bird. Much of the motivation for this came from the EU. “There is a growing move to empower consumers both here in the UK and the EU,” Rennie says, “through the introduction of more straightforward legislation and use of online alternative dispute resolution procedures. Once out of the EU that movement may potentially be at risk, although we wouldn’t expect the approach to change significantly.”

 

Yet legislation and regulation is not the only way forward. The move to allow passengers to claim compensation for delays of more than 15 minutes (rather than 30 minutes) — recently announced by the Department for Transport on Govia Thameslink Railway services (but likely to expand to other networks) is believed to have been achieved via changes to the rail franchise."

 

 






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  Reply # 1655660 21-Oct-2016 12:49
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I can't see the legislation needing to change, but I do see plenty of instances where companies need to better educate their staff.

 

While the whole Note 7 thing is a huge cockup for the most part haven't Samsung handled it appropriately? obviously their initial remedy did not solve the problem, but they did quite quickly issue a subsequent recall.

 

They are replacing/ refunding and offering further compensation while not requiring return of the accessories supplied, the real question is what more do you expect them to do? And the obvious answer of not having the issue to begin with doesn't count! The note on the ban on flying with a Note 7 is largely irrelevant as the product has been recalled, and from what I understand Samsung has set up a kiosk at airports to change over Note7's.

 

If we are referring to parallel imported products, and trying to force the manufacturers representative in NZ to deal with them, then I firmly disagree.

 

The article does make for interesting reading but I don't think we have a problem in NZ that needs fixing via legislation.




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  Reply # 1655665 21-Oct-2016 13:00
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My biggest beef is the reliance on vague wording like 'reasonable'.

 

I do think the Americans are much faster and more positive in their response to complaints and issues too and would like to see a bit more of that here.






 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1655668 21-Oct-2016 13:06
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Geektastic:

 

My biggest beef is the reliance on vague wording like 'reasonable'.

 

I do think the Americans are much faster and more positive in their response to complaints and issues too and would like to see a bit more of that here.

 

 

The problem with finite time frames of what is reasonable is this changes and would need a very long list of items that would need to be updated regularly, much like the duty concession codes, which is like the bible and War and Peace put together!

 

The faster response would be nice, and it would also be nice to not have to threaten companies to get resolutions under the CGA, however pleading ignorant of the act will continue regardless of what it contains.

 

Also IMO the American's responsiveness is more bred around the ability to quickly and easily go elsewhere more than legislation.


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  Reply # 1655670 21-Oct-2016 13:14
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Geektastic:

 

My biggest beef is the reliance on vague wording like 'reasonable'.

 

 

I'm with you 100% on that.

 

They'll enact legislation that "xyz must be done in reasonable time", when it should be ie "xyz must be done within 24 hours, unless good reason can be shown why that cannot be achieved".

 

Put the onus of proving what's reasonable back on the supplier, rather than having the aggrieved party needing to prove when something is unreasonable.


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  Reply # 1655701 21-Oct-2016 13:37
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Reasonable time depends on the issue and the product. It seems reasonable to me.

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  Reply # 1655727 21-Oct-2016 13:58
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It's not all great in the US when it comes to consumer rights.  Because of the high consequences of problems companies may try to sweep problems under the carpet, deny them, blame the consumer etc rather than face class action lawsuits and other punitive measures.

 

 





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  Reply # 1655819 21-Oct-2016 15:55
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In the US they don't appear to have anything like the CGA protection we have here, so you essentially have to buy an extended warranty if you want any coverage after the warranty period. I am perfectly comfortable with NZ consumer laws. There are many other laws that need updating before this one.

 

Product recalls in NZ are another matter. Often people don't know products have been recalled, and only recently has there been a reliable website showing all of them. Although that broke with the airbag recall. The problem is that there are now so many recalls, that people still don't know unless the wade through them all. I had a faulty electric blanket, that got removed from the recall website, as it was recalled over 2 years ago. I only found out about the recall when there was a story on radio NZ a few months ago, and I did a google search of the model number, and found out it was recalled, and it said I shouldn't use it due to a potential risk! I had been using it for over 2 years after the recall. If it had caused a fire, I suspect the insurance company would try to get out of it, by blaming me for not checking... but who does this and it isn't much good when it is removed from the recall website.


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  Reply # 1656401 23-Oct-2016 01:40
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Fred99:

 

Geektastic:

 

My biggest beef is the reliance on vague wording like 'reasonable'.

 

 

I'm with you 100% on that.

 

They'll enact legislation that "xyz must be done in reasonable time", when it should be ie "xyz must be done within 24 hours, unless good reason can be shown why that cannot be achieved".

 

Put the onus of proving what's reasonable back on the supplier, rather than having the aggrieved party needing to prove when something is unreasonable.

 

 

 

 

That same word also creeps into unrelated laws. For example - in the residential tenancies act. It says a landlord or real estate agent must give reasonable notice to tenants before showing prospective buyers through the house if the house is for sale. But of course reasonable is not defined. So arguments ensure over how much notice is needed.

 

 

 

Things like time periods and definitions can be written in regulations or standards. To make updating them easier. It all comes down to politicians being stupid. As for situations like the sale and purchase of land. There will be enough cases going to court, that there will be enough case law emerge for everyone to know where they stand. But it is never going to work for things like consumer goods. As Im not going to go to a lawyer and instruct them to take a case over to court over something like a cellphone failing outside of warranty. That I think should be covered under the CGA. So no worthwhile case law appears.

 

So cases are battled in the disputes tribunal. Or on social media. Which often has the effect of people with alot of time on their hands get payouts when they probably shouldn't. And the people who need protection the most, often get left with nothing. Consumer protection laws should be defined to set time periods. So you would always be able to get an easy yes/no answer. Instead of maybe if you fight for it.






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