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We recently purchased an mp3 player from argos (908/2218), which is labelled as "Philips SA4VBE08KN/12 GoGear VIBE 8GB MP3/MP4 Player". This item is excluded from their 30-day return policy.

We'd like to return it, because it doesn't support the .mp4 file format. Given that it's described as an MP4 player, can we argue that it's been misdescribed?

If the shop staff don't agree, what's our recourse? Is it worth pursuing in small claims court?

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    You probably won't get legal advice here. Since you already found an applicable statute you probably won't get any new legal information here, either. As a practical matter I would just note that I always buy merchandise with credit cards whenever possible because they generally offer more accessible consumer protection than the law. I've never made a legal claim for a purchase, but I've successfully disputed many through my charge card companies. – feetwet Jun 28 '15 at 1:05
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    For completeness, they took it back without any argument. Thanks for the advice. – xorsyst Jun 29 '15 at 9:49
  • I just want to mention that just because it didn't play your .mp4 files doesn't mean it won't play others. I think they will take it back either way as they are pretty good with returns. – Terry Dec 3 '15 at 15:04
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It says it's an "MP4 player" but it doesn't play MP4s. This seems rather straightforward to me---assuming it really doesn't play any kind of MP4 at all.

I would agree you could go back to the shop armed with the appropriate wording from the SoG Act and state your case to the manager. If the front desk staff are unhelpful don't argue with them but rather ask to speak to the duty manager.

No doubt the staff will talk about their thirty day return policy, but you are not interested in this; since you are relying on your statutory rights.

If that is not successful, write directly to the head office. Keep your letter short, neutral and with no emotion whatsoever. Describe the facts, include proof of purchase, and request your money back.

Argos is a large shop, they will pay you off ("as a gesture of good will") rather than fight a pointless claim in the SCC. However taking an action to the SCC is not necessarily free so you might yourselves not feel it worth it.

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By selling you an MP4 player that doesn't play MP4 files, it sounds like Argos have breached the Sale of Goods act, particularly section 14, which states:

(2) Where the seller sells goods in the course of a business, there is an implied term that the goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality.

(2A) For the purposes of this Act, goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.

(2B) For the purposes of this Act, the quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods—

(a) fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied,

(b) appearance and finish,

(c) freedom from minor defects,

(d) safety, and

(e) durability.

The goods are plainly not as described (section 2A), nor are they fit for the purpose for which they were suppled (section 2B(b)). If the goods are not of satisfactory quality, then your right as a consumer is to terminate the contract - to return the item to the seller and to ask for your money back.

The language used makes it clear that your contract is with the seller, so Argos are bound by the SGA to make sure their goods match the description, and similarly bound to offer you a refund if the goods do not. Argos cannot contract out of this, as the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 states. See the answer here for more detail on this.

As to what you should do if the shop staff have a problem with this: feetwet is right to say that we can't advise on that here. (Nor should this answer be taken as legal advice - it's merely one person's interpretation of the statute.) Your best bet, should you come across any problems, would be to seek legal advice, perhaps from somewhere like your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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