Recently the UK announced that a new law, ‘Right to Repair’ is set to come into force this summer. The new legislation will make manufacturers legally obliged to make spare parts for products available to consumers for the first time – a new legal right for repairs.
Whilst this specifically appears to target the electronics industry and aims to extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years, we wanted to reiterate the importance of being aware of consumer rights in regard to refunds when it comes to opticians.
The Consumer Rights Act means any products you buy must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
However, the most important aspect to consider in regard to the eligibility of a refund is the difference between a bespoke product and an off-the-shelf one.
Visiting an optician is a healthcare consultation and also a retail purchase. It is important that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 protects consumers, but the rights have to be applied bearing in mind the products supplied are bespoke and tailored to an individual consumer’s needs and choices.
Opticians may include other incentives or offers which go beyond statutory rights, but it is important to understand the extent of your legal rights as a consumer so that you can be sure you are making the right decision for you. For example, strictly speaking, a consumer is not entitled to a full refund or credit note if they change their mind on a frame or the purchase as a whole.
While a high street clothing store may be happy to accept a return on any basis, this may not be appropriate where glasses are specifically ordered and bespoke to you. It is therefore important that consumers take the time to make the right decision for them. Remember that as a consumer you are entitled to take that time to ask questions and raise any queries.
In essence, statutory consumer rights state if the service or product supplied is defective then you are entitled to a refund or replacement. If you are unhappy in any way, the statutory points to speak to the optician and explain your concerns. Most opticians will work with you to resolve matters once they understand why you are dissatisfied.
If you need help or guidance on how to present your concerns to an optician, you can contact the OCCS. We would recommend that if a complaint cannot be resolved informally, then it is put in writing and you ask the practice to follow their complaints procedure. This will hopefully lead to any concerns being allayed or the necessary adjustments undertaken.
To summarise, generally speaking, if the glasses are an off-the-shelf purchase (non-prescription, for example) you as a consumer are more than likely eligible for a refund. However, should the gift be bespoke or tailored to the individual then it is important to engage in a dialogue with your optician should the recipient or wearer be unhappy.
More often than not, most opticians will be understanding of the matter and attempt to resolve the issue. We suggest being open and maintaining dialogue, to be able to offer specific reasons as to why the item is not fit for purpose. As part of their duty of care, most opticians will want to work with you to adjust the fit or strength of the prescription to ensure they fit.
Of course, sometimes disputes do occur and that is where the OCCS may be able to assist. We help both the consumer and practice to re-engage in dialogue to find a mutually beneficial outcome for all involved.