DEAN DUNHAM: How can I force dress shop to return my 'non refundable' ... trends now

DEAN DUNHAM: How can I force dress shop to return my 'non refundable' ... trends now
DEAN DUNHAM: How can I force wedding dress shop to return my 'non refundable' ... trends now

DEAN DUNHAM: How can I force wedding dress shop to return my 'non refundable' ... trends now

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I paid a £1,000 deposit for a wedding dress but, a few days later, I found another dress I liked more so I cancelled the order. 

The boutique says it is non-refundable but confirmed it had not yet started to make the dress. How can I get it to give me my money back?

M. N., Fareham, Hants.

Dean Dunham replies: My response to your question applies to any situation where a consumer is asked to pay a deposit for goods or services to be delivered at a future date.

The starting point is to establish whether you were clearly told the deposit would be non-refundable.

Frock shock: A boutique is refusing to hand back a £1,000 deposit on a recent order for a wedding dress

Frock shock: A boutique is refusing to hand back a £1,000 deposit on a recent order for a wedding dress 

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says 'key terms', such as a deposit being 'non-refundable', must be made 'prominent' and it is legal to have a non-refundable deposit.

If this crucial fact is not clearly spelt out or highlighted prior to contract, it will not be binding. This means you could potentially get a full refund of the deposit if you cancel your order.

Even if you were made aware that the deposit would be 'non-refundable', this is not the end of the matter as it may not be fair for the retailer to keep the full amount.

The Consumer Rights Act provides a list of terms that 'may' be classed as 'unfair', meaning they would not be binding.

One of those is a term that permits the trader to keep money paid by the consumer if they decide to end the contract, but doesn't provide for the consumer to receive compensation from the trader of an equivalent amount were the trader to cancel the contract.

So, ask the retailer if it would have paid you £1,000 if it had cancelled on you (that is £1,000 in addition to receiving your deposit back). 

If the answer is no, and I suspect it will be, then this is potentially an 'unfair' clause, meaning you won't

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