What's a consumer complaint letter about faulty hire purchase goods and when do you need one?
Use this letter when you want to raise a complaint, for the first time, about an item that you’ve acquired under a hire purchase agreement from a business in England and Wales.
If you’re a business wanting to complain about another business, not a consumer, please use our separate business complaints suites.
(‘Hire purchase’ describes where you agree to pay for an item in instalments, and you sign a form of credit/borrowing agreement with a finance company, who pays the trader selling the item to you, while you pay the finance company off in instalments. Kitchen goods, electronics, furniture and vehicles are often bought in this way. You don’t own the item until it’s been fully paid off.)
Who is responsible?
The addressee/recipient of this complaint should be the finance company from whom you hired the goods under the hire purchase agreement, not the trader that sold the faulty goods to you.
It is the hire purchase business, in this instance, who is responsible to you if the goods are faulty. They should give you a final response to your complaint within 8 weeks at the most, depending on what you are complaining about.
This letter assumes you do not want to cancel the hire purchase agreement. If you want to cancel it (which you can typically only do in limited circumstances which are time constrained), you should take a look at our consumer letter cancelling credit agreement before it starts.
Faulty goods and your consumer rights
Consumers buying goods from a business (whether on hire purchase terms or not) are legally entitled to hired goods that:
- are ‘of a satisfactory quality’
- match their description at/before the point of sale
- are suitable (‘fit’) for the purpose for they are described as intended, and
- last for a reasonable amount of time
You may be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement, if there’s a problem with something you’ve bought. This is the case irrespective of whether the goods are brand new, on offer/discounted/in a sale, or second-hand.
These rights are triggered if what you bought is:
- broken or damaged ('not of satisfactory quality')
- unusable (‘not fit for purpose’)
- not what was advertised, or doesn’t match the seller’s description or
- things said by the dealer or broker about the goods before you signed up, later turn out to be wrong
However, by contrast, you won’t have these rights if what you bought was:
- damaged by normal wear and tear, an accident or due to your (or someone else’s) misuse of the item
- you knew about the fault before you bought the item
- there’s nothing wrong with the product, but you’ve just changed your mind (in which case, no matter what you bought, it’s down to the seller to determine what rights they want to give you. Many retailers chose to give customers a right to change their mind and to return items in an unused condition within a given time frame, but they’re not legally obliged to do so).
(There’s an exception for cars bought on hire purchase/credit arrangements and you can find out more on this here.)
Keep copies of all your complaint correspondence with the finance company, including any attached documents, such as your hire purchase agreement, receipt, copies of guarantees/warranties that you have activated (if relevant), etc.
What if you need to take your complaint further?
Hire purchase finance companies are overseen and held to account by the Financial Ombudsman, to whom you can complain if you’re not satisfied with the response you get from the finance company. Depending on what's gone wrong (and what the finance company has done to try and put things right) the Ombudsman can order them to:
- give you a refund, either in part or in full
- repair or replace the goods
- refund interest, charges or repayments
- collect the goods at no cost to you
- pay you compensation for any costs you reasonably incurred, distress or inconvenience you suffered because of this situation.
Make sure you follow the Ombudsman’s specified complaints process if you decide to take this route. There is an online complaints form you can use to make your complaint. You will be expected to have tried to resolve the matter with the finance business first.
You could also consider a claim brought in the courts, though this can be costly and take some time to be heard. Experts recommend that consumers complain to the Financial Ombudsman.
Help now, and later
If you’d like help with your complaint and/or considering your options, you can use our speak to an adviser service, where a qualified expert can talk you through your options, and help you to decide the right next steps for you.
Our guide: how to bring a consumer complaint against a business, contains more background and instructions on the wider context of consumer complaints and what to expect.