The Range - Non Compliance with Consumer Law

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 at 6:07am CST by Steven W.

Product: Hamster Cage

Company: The Range

Location: Holyrood rd Skippingdale ind est Scunthorpe
UK

URL: therange.co.uk

Category: Stores, Shopping

My family and I have shopped at The Range for a good few years now. We purchased a hamster cage from their Scunthorpe store for our autistic son's Syrian Hamster that was part of his birthday present.

That evening after taking great care to ensure the hamster was comfortable we went to bed. The next day the hamster was there and seemed happy, but the following day he had vanished.

We searched everywhere but couldn't find him. There were no doors on the cage open and we came to the conclusion that it must have squeezed through one of the bars. Our son was very upset as you can imagine so for the next week my wife and I took turns to get up in the middle of the night to see if we could find it. This was fruitless and so we decided that the following weekend we would take the cage and receipt back to the store as 'Not fit for Purpose'. Please find an email that I sent to head office customer service and to CEO Chris Dawson. It should explain what happened next.

Dear Sir,

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Further to my conversation with Danny?today?at Head Office Customer Service, please find as requested a true account of my experience?today.

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My name is ---------------and I would like to tell you of my experience of your returns policy at The Range Scunthorpe.?

Firstly please let me explain a bit about myself.

I am mid forties, no tattoos or piercings, not that there is anything wrong with that and I like to think of myself as reserved and measured in my approach to life in general. I have served on our local parish council for a number of years and currently I Chair the premises committee on our local primary school board of governors. ?

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Today?my family and I had the misfortune to experience the sharp end of your returns policy. We have for a number of years called into both the Scunthorpe and Lincoln stores for our needs and maybe some sustenance and beverage from your fine restaurants. This is the first time we have ever tried to return an item.

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A week prior to this visit we had purchased a hamster cage from your pet department to house our 9 year old autistic sons new pet syrian hamster. The cost of this item was not of particular issue being only ?14.99.?

We helped our son fit the cage out with all the bits and pieces and put the hamster in his new home. This was on the Friday. The hamster was still in his cage on the Saturday but we did notice that he seemed to be paying quite a bit of attention to the corner of the cage. By Sunday the cage was empty. The doors were still all closed but somehow the hamster had escaped. We believe that where the hamster was showing interest the day before, the spacing between the bars is slightly wider and we believe that he must have somehow squeezed through. A true houdini indeed!

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Our son as you can imagine is distraught. My wife and I have for the last week been taking turns getting up in the middle of the night to see if we can find this hamster. There has as yet been no sign so has either made a dash for freedom, is expert at stealth operations, died, or currently chewing through the household wiring. Your guess is as good as mine.

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Anyway, we decided to take the not unreasonable step of returning the offending cage back to Scunthorpe with receipt in hand.

The young man on the desk listened to our experience and seemed a bit torn as what to do. I pointed out the 'Sale & Supply of Goods Act 2002'and suggested that the item was 'Not fit for Purpose'. He decided to try to get a manager involved eventually returning to state that the manager decided that as the cage had been used they could do nothing with it and therefore would be ignoring the act and not giving a refund. This as you can probably imagine was not very helpful, so I suggested to the chap that maybe the manager could have the courtesy to actually take time to come and speak to his unhappy customers.?

Eventually the manager arrived. Things were very cordial and my wife explained the problem again. The manager was as flummoxed as we were as to how the hamster had got out. He then reiterated that he wasn't going to do anything to rectify the situation. No apology for the lost hamster to our upset son or his disregard for the previously mentioned act of 2002. I then gave him another reminder of this act and he then tried to start arguing in front of my wife child and other customers the finer points of this legislation. I would like to add that it became absolutely apparent that he has very little grasp nor understanding of this act. By now I was a tad irked by his attitude and lack of remorse of any kind regarding the upset caused to our son or the upset to us having to wake at silly o'clock to check for the hamster, so I told him that just on principle I would chase this through the small claims proceedure. I then requested his name to which he replied John. I asked for his surname twice and on both occasions he refused. So by now i was very upset and frustrated at his attitude but mindful of customers around and also the fact my wife and child were also upset, I went up to him and very quietly told him that he obviously had something to f*c*ing hide to not want to give me his name. I returned back to my wife. My wife then very calmly asked him to reconsider?. He then replied to my wife who was very calm but upset that he can do whatever he wants and he is not going to refund and will now ban us not just from Scunthorpe but all The Range stores nationwide! ?He was also now smiling and almost chuckling as he said it. I then politely asked him if he would like to join me outside to sort this out staggered by the lack of respect being shown. I will be the first to state that this was unforgivable, but he had managed to drag me down to this level. Now his next plan was to call the police. We waited patiently whilst he did this. I now had a very good measure of this chap so took it upon myself to stand next to him to ensure he didn't fabricate anything whilst talking on the phone. He scurried off. We then waited calmly and patiently for the police to arrive. I am guessing we probably waited around half an hour or more. During the wait I even joked to him when he returned regarding the time taken for the police to respond. He replied that if this had been Doncaster the police would have been there immediately! ?

The police eventually arrive and John, no surname runs out and talks to one of the officers. The officer then approaches me and asks me to join him outside in his van. I oblige. I would like to make clear at this point that neither myself nor my family have ever been on the wrong side of the law and both my wife and especially my son where very worried by me following this officer out to the van.?

I explained to the chap exactly what had happened and the officer stated that my account was the same as John, I can do what I like no surnames. After running a check to ensure I havent got any history with the police he suggests that he go back in the store and aquires this managers surname to enable me to fire off a complaint to you. I agreed to this. The officer also indicated that he could absolutely see my issue. ?Two minutes later he returns dumbfounded as your manager had refused to give the officer his surname!!! What is this guy hiding???

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Anyway, this whole experience has not only soured our view of The Range, but it has left us all personally upset especially our challenged son who doesn't understand any of this and got very frightened during this experience.?

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The money wasn't the issue. We are talking ?15. Its the principle. The wasted afternoon, the 50 mile wasted round trip to return the item. The trauma caused to not just ourselves but more importantly our son. The lack of an apology for the loss of the hamster nor sympathetic handling of the issue. Nor any regard for us getting up in the middle of the night to try and find the hamster. I personally find that the sheer disregard for our integrity galling. The hamster escaping is by our own admission perplexing but all the same it happened. Your manager by not doing the correct thing has virtually implied we are lying. ?I would imagine that you will hold a cctv record of this time consuming and upsetting incident. I would respectfully request that it is viewed to confirm my account.?

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If a hamster cage doesn't manage to contain a hamster, I hope that you will agree that it is not fit for purpose??

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I trust this will be looked into and appropiate action taken??

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Could you please also confirm the validity of our lifetime ban to all of your stores that your manager kindly awarded us with for having the gall trying to return a faulty item?

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Not wanting to sound belligerent but this won't particulary be an issue to us after?today, we are just curious.?

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Best Regards

Well nearly a week went by and I received this reply,

Dear ---------------

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Thank you for your email received on the 3rd?February 2014, regarding the Hamster Cage.

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I can confirm that all the details highlighted have been investigated, however in order for me to continue with my investigation I will require a copy of your proof of purchase or bank statement and photographs highlighting your concerns.

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Once I have received this information, I will happily look into the matter further for you.

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I look forward to hearing from you.

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Yours Sincerely

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Jordan Thomas

Customer Service Team

T:?01752?725595

F:?01752 725570

E:?[email protected]????

I was gobsmacked, so I replied,

Jordan,I think you may have missed the point somewhat.The receipt has already been presented to the store along with the cage and our concerns.I would have thought it would have been more important to address the issue of John, no surname and his attitude and actions on that day. Not to mention the upset caused to my wife and child as well as myself and the embarrassment of having to follow a police officer out to his van.If you feel that this isnt the more important issue, then please either get a customer service manager involved or even better, please forward the Chris Dawson or his secretary to deal with.

Many Thanks

Anyway, today I received a letter banning me from all The Range stores nationwide. It also stated that a copy would be sent to the local constabulary and if I set foot in any of their stores it will be treated as tresspass and I shall be committing a criminal offence. The letter went on to state that if I had any concerns that I should contact the 'Loss Prevention Dept'

So in a state of increduality I took them up on their kind offer and was put through to Jordan Thomas. I asked him what was going on and here is a condensed version of our conversation,

The store manager has the right to ban us from all stores and head office can't overide that decision.

He has not reviewed the CCTV footage as yet, but I am banned anyway.

I wouldn't get a reply from CEO Chris Dawson because he isn't 'Customer Facing'

If I don't agree with the customer service rep Jordan Thomas, I can't complain any higher because his boss isn't 'Customer Facing'

They decide if an item they sell is 'Fit for Purpose'. The customer has to decide if the Hamster Cage they sell is Fit for use by a Hamster.

I left the conversation telling Jordan that I would now be contacting Trading Standards regarding their denial of the 'Sale of Goods Act 1979 and The Sale and Supply of Goods Act 2002' 'Not fit for Purpose and Not of Merchantable Quality'

His reply was 'ok' but I wouldn't be hearing from them anymore.

As I stated earlier, the money, though a refund would have been nice isn't the real issue here. What is the issue is the fact that there has been no apologies for the managers handling of the complaint. No apologies for the upset caused to my son or wife. The fact that I have never had any dealings with the police and now I find myself banned, not that that's a great loss but having my good name now on police record by way of the letter sent to them informing them of my nationwide ban.

So please take this as a cautionary tale. I honestly thought this was a professional company. There handling of a genuine complaint has been anything but.

A company run by a CEO Chris Dawson who won't take an interest in his long standing customers complaints.

A inflexible and non caring customer service dept who have no respect for consumer law, who again have managers who don't speak to customers.

A company who when faced with an item 'Not fit for Purpose' ban customers and smear their name to the local constabulary rather than do the honest, decent thing and apologise.

Not ever has the phrase, 'Buyer be Ware' been more suited than to this shamble of a company.


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