Pricewatch queries: Watch out for Lidl’s television ‘waiver’

Plus: another tale of Virgin woe

Lidl: sold damaged TV. Photograph: Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty

Lidl: sold damaged TV. Photograph: Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty


Watch out for Lidl’s television ‘waiver’ 
On Ray D’Arcy’s RTÉ Radio 1 show last week we discussed an issue in connection with Lidl.

A listener, Kevin, bought a 32in Samsung TV at a Lidl outlet and paid €134.99 for it.

But when he opened the box he discovered three scratches on the screen. He immediately returned it to the store, where he was told that procedure dictated he had to contact Lidl customer services himself and arrange for the TV to be collected for return to the supplier, which would assess the defect and contact him regarding a replacement.

After almost two weeks with no contact from the supplier, he rang Lidl customer service.

From there he was put through to the supplier, who in turn put him through to Samsung, which eventually authorised a replacement. When this arrived, it was even more badly damaged. He went back to the shop and asked to speak to the manager and was told he would have to jump through the same hoops to get another replacement. “Surely a customer in this day and age shouldn’t have to endure this outrageous carry-on,” he said.

When we contacted Lidl it processed a refund but refused to discuss the level of customer service offered to Kevin. When we highlighted the issue, people contacted us to say that when they had bought electronic items from Lidl, they had had to sign a waiver effectively exempting the retailer from having to deal with any issues and compelling the purchaser to deal with the supplier should anything go wrong.

Kevin got back in touch.

“I was contacted by Lidl head office, which confirmed a refund,” he said. “I explained that their complete lack of customer focus was of more concern to me at this point than the refund.”

He also says that he was “asked by the store manager when I returned the second TV if I had signed a ‘waiver’, which did not resonate with me until I heard another listener mention same. Why anybody would sign a waiver is beyond me, and it shows that Lidl clearly has no confidence in certain products sold by them.”

In response we got a detailed statement. “Lidl completely regrets the situation which arose with this customer. We pride ourselves on servicing customers to the highest standards and on this occasion we fell short. We have taken steps to examine the current process and are looking for ways to improve this system.

“We have a 28-day change-of-mind policy in place along with a 60-day straight-refund policy, which goes above and beyond consumer legislation. The information notice given to customers when purchasing high-value electrical goods is a way to notify customers that our 28-day change-of-mind policy and our 60-day straight-refund policy does not apply. Our returns procedure does not require the high-value waivers to be signed by customers, merely distributed. If a customer was asked to sign one, this was in error.

“The notice advises that the customer’s statutory rights will not be affected . . . if there is a major fault with a good such that it doesn’t work, the customer continues to have the right to reject same. In the case of minor faults the customer is entitled to a repair or replacement, and where such a repair does not remedy the fault, the customer will be entitled to a refund or replacement.”

Another tale of Virgin woe
Last week we featured the tale of a reader called Marianne who appeared to be involved in an endless over-and-back with Virgin Media over sky-high bills connected to premium channels she insists she never signed up to.

It all started when she was offered premium channels if she renewed her contract for a period of 12 months. She said she was told she would receive Sky Movies and Sky Sports free for a “period of six months only, and once the six months had lapsed the Sky packages would automatically be removed from our package and our existing package would remain”.

The channels were removed after two months, then restored, before finally it dawned on her that she had been paying for the channels for a long period. She said the company had overcharged her by “about €1,800”.

In response a spokeswoman said there “may possibly be a mutual misunderstanding of the circumstances relating to this matter on the part of the customer and also on our part”. She said it was not “possible for us to address specific details of this query with the media without potentially breaching customer confidentiality, which we cannot do”.

The story prompted another reader to get in touch. “Exactly the same thing happened to me with UPC [now Virgin],” writes Máirín. “They phoned and asked me if I would like free Sports or Movies if I agreed to a contract. I went for Sports. They make it difficult to see your bill so we were unaware for some time that we were paying for it. When I brought it to their attention, they denied that it would have been offered free.” She says the company told her it was unable to play back the call.

We contacted Virgin, which said it had listened back to the recording and it showed that this customer had requested their existing package be upgraded to a triple-play bundle and agreed to take Sky Sports with a monthly subscription. “A statement was automatically issued to reflect these changes (including Sky Sports) and the new monthly amount was itemised, issued to the customer and paid accordingly thereafter.”

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