In theory, when returning an item – including food – you have lots of rights, regardless of whether the goods or services were bought in store or online, thanks to the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015.
The act covers loads of things, but the important bit says you have the right to reject something if it’s faulty within 30 days of buying it – and get a refund.
However, the one exception to this are goods that are likely to perish within 30 days, when the time limit becomes the date the item is expected to perish. This is usually the use-by date for food.
As long as you stick to these timescales, you’re entitled to a full refund. You still have some rights after 30 days but they’re not as strong.
If you find something unexpected (or disturbing) in your food then you can expect a written apology a refund and maybe some compensation. However, don’t start booking that holiday or paying off your mortgage just yet. We’ve always been amazed by how stingy big businesses like supermarkets are when it comes to items that have clearly found their way in to products they’ve sold. The norm seems to be a voucher around the £10 to £20 mark though we have seen higher amounts where there’s some negative publicity in the media. But even then, it’s rarely over £100.
If you want to take things further, the options are limited. You can report a shop or restaurant to your local Trading Standards or Environmental Health Officer. But this won’t help with your individual complaint.
Of course, newspapers love stories about weird things found in food, but if you don’t want to be labelled as the ‘lizard in the salad’ lady then one of the best tactics is to sit down with the manager and explain the impact on you and your family and ask them to reflect that in the offer.
There was a Retail Ombudsman you could take your case to for free, but the service recently became the ‘Retail ADR’. It’s a free service, but we’re waiting to see how it deals with complaints. Failing that, you’d need to take the business to court.
Want to make a complaint about food, retailers or supermarkets? Resolver will help you submit your shopping complaint for free.