Second time: I bought a pre-cut and folded length of fabric from a factory shop while on holiday elsewhere in the UK. A few weeks after I returned, I unfolded it to wash it and realised that there was a printing flaw along most of the length of it - a white line disrupting the printed pattern. As the fabric was sold as seconds, I didn't think I would have much of a case but I phoned the factory shop and they sent me a replacement metre, no questions asked with no requirement to provide proof of payment, a photo of the damage or return the fabric. In this case, the flaw was really obvious when the fabric was unfolded but I was unable to see it when bought as a folded piece, and it was a much more serious flaw than in any of the seconds fabric they sold, which was in usable condition.
like this) but a fade line is definitely a flaw.
I had bought the fabric with the gift voucher and couldn't find a receipt and had no other proof of purchase like a transaction on my bank account. So, I emailed a photo of the damage to the shop and explained that I didn't have any proof of purchase but to let them know that the fabric was flawed so that they didn't sell it to anyone else. To my surprise, they apologised and sent me a replacement gift voucher. Even better, they didn't ask for the fabric back and I was still able to cut out my project by cutting the fabric on the double fold instead of folding it down the centre.
Under the UK's Consumer Rights Act 2015, there are three key reasons why goods may be returned:
- Satisfactory quality Goods shouldn't be faulty or damaged when you receive them. You should ask what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory for the goods in question. For example, bargain-bucket products won’t be held to as high standards as luxury goods.
- Fit for purpose The goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.
- As described The goods supplied must match any description given to you, or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase
In my three examples, there were fabric flaws meaning that that fabric was not of "satisfactory quality". Other occasions to return a fabric might be because the fibre content was not "as described". For example, if you found out that the 100% wool fabric you bought had a polyester content after doing a burn test at home. This would be legitimate grounds for the return - hard to prove if you buy fabric from a market stall where things don't have labels but easier to prove if the content is listed online or on a label, and it turns out not to be the case. Equally, if a fabric you bought started bobbling after a couple of washes, it would be possible to make a claim for it not being of "satisfactory quality", although as stated above, this claim would have more weight if the fabric was not a cheap buy. Or if you bought a waterproof fabric that turned out not to be waterproof, that could be classed as not "fit for purpose."
UK Law gives you a 30 day period after purchase under which to get a full refund, and after that period, the options are "repair or replace." Repair doesn't really apply in the case of fabric, so replacement would be the option. If a replacement (or repair) cannot be made - if the fabric was sold out, for example - then a refund has to be given by the retailer.
However you have up to 6 months after purchase to report a problem:
"If you discover the fault within the first six months after buying the product, it is presumed to have been there since the time of purchase - unless the retailer can prove otherwise. During this time, it's up to the retailer to prove that the fault wasn't there when you bought it - it's not up to you to prove that it was."
After six months, the burden is on you to prove an issue. This could be a problem when pulling fabric from a stash that has been bought months (or years earlier).
Until I researched the law for this post, I didn't know that you could get a refund in the 30 day period, but I was happy to have been given a replacement and also to have been left with the faulty fabric in each case as each time the fabric will still be usable to some degree. I was also impressed by how easily the issue was dealt with each time. Retailers understand that fabric can sometimes be faulty and all were keen to rectify the issue.
Here are my tips for ensuring that you aren't stuck with faulty fabric:
- Check fabric carefully when buying or when it arrives after an online order. Look out for those things that would count as fabric flaws - holes, misprints and fade lines that don't come out - hold fabric up to the light and examine closely, unfold it and check it when it arrives.
- Wash it after purchase - colour runs could also show that fabric is not of "satisfactory quality."
- Keep your receipt! However another proof of purchase such as record of a card transaction, is also acceptable
- Get in touch as soon as you can after purchase, by email or phone, and have photos ready
Have you ever returned fabric? What was the reason and what was your experience?
The Consumer Rights Act here
Returning Goods here