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Sold Beauty Products that Don't Work?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 12 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Sale Supply Goods Act Legislation Law

The descriptions you read on advertising leaflets can be very tempting, and seduce even the most sensible among us into making a rash purchase we didn’t expect. It’s all very well if the products we’ve bought are worth the indulgence...but what if you really don’t get what you think you’ve paid for?

The law relating to products, the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 (amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002) is that anything you buy should be of satisfactory quality, and should also be as it is described.

So, not only should your face scrub be fit for the purpose that a face scrub is usually used for – but it should fit it's description too. So if it’s supposed to have Dead Sea salts and essential oil of lavender in it – that’s exactly what it should contain.

When and How to Complain

As a rule, you are only entitled to a refund on any goods that you buy if they have a fault that would have been present at the time you bought them. With something mechanical like hair straighteners, you would also expect them to last a certain amount of time before they stopped working – so if you’d had them about a month and they gave up the ghost, you could expect to get money back or a new pair from the salon.

The key term in consumer legislation is ‘reasonable’ though – so if you’ve used them non-stop for almost a year and they won’t straighten anything anymore, you could probably put that down to simple wear and tear, and the shop wouldn’t be obliged to give you anything – although they might offer a repair or money towards a new set, so it’s always worth asking.

The Six Month Rule

Legally, if you return something you’ve bought within six months, you don’t have to prove that the fault was there at the time you bought the item. You can ask for a repair or a replacement, or in certain circumstances, even a partial or full refund. If the spa or salon who sold you the item doesn’t play ball, they have to prove that it was you who caused the fault, rather than the fault being there from day one.

Proving Where You Bought It

You’ll need proof of purchase to be able to claim anything – although don’t be fobbed off if you’re told that you must show a receipt. By law, the till receipt is just one way of proving purchase. A credit card slip or bill, or a bank statement showing the purchase are other ways to prove purchase. If you don’t have anything, though, you’re at the mercy of the shop’s goodwill!

Fitting the Description

The law also says that when you buy goods, they have to be as described. In practice, anything you buy will probably have a description on it somewhere. With beauty products, it’s quite difficult to prove or deny that a product bought, for example, to ‘make you look younger’ actually works – let’s face it, we all know that most of these descriptions are subjective and designed to seduce us into buying a pot of something that smells nice.

One example of a time where you could claim money back for a tube of moisturiser or pot of face scrub would be if the ingredients are not as described. Most of the time, you’ve probably got no way of telling, but if you were to have an allergic reaction to a product because it contained an ingredient that wasn’t listed, you might have a case.

If you simply didn’t like the product, or it caused a skin rash, you’re on shaky ground for money back because it’s something specific to you. There’s probably nothing inherently faulty about the product, it just doesn’t suit you. In that case, you can by all means talk to the salon – they might swap it for you or even give you your money back – but they don’t have to.

You’re well protected by law when you buy beauty products, but just bear in mind that one woman’s amazing miracle product can be another girl’s waste of money!

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@Susie. If you have paid a significant sum, you should expect to see some difference but obviously cannot expect miracles. Look at the wording carefully. If you can prove that any 'promises' have not been fulfilled (eg. photos etc) then ask for a refund.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 16-Mar-15 @ 11:12 AM
What redress do I have if I have a course of a facial treatment which promises to lift the face and reduce wrinkles does not work at all
Susie - 12-Mar-15 @ 9:30 AM
@Mags and Frecklesmany - I do feel for you both, especially after taking advice from supposed professionals. You should really report the clinics to your local trading standards office for this kind of thing. You won't necessarily receive any compensation, but they might be able to find some answers and stop this happening to others. You could also try the advertising standards agency as they are making advertising promises that they cannot keep. Good luck
LovelySkin - 4-May-12 @ 10:05 AM
I'm really sorry to hear that you have suffered as a result of these dermaroller treatments. I was encourged by the nurse practioner of a large cosmetic surgery group to have the dermaroller even though I wanted something else. I had saved the money to have treatment for acne scarred skin. I must say that dermaroller was useless, despite all of it's claims. After three treatments my skin has shown no improvement. When I complained to the clinic I was told is "unfortunately your own response to the treatment process". I don't know what to do next. What have you done to deal with this issue?
Frecklesmany - 3-May-12 @ 9:59 PM
Advised by a large private clinic that dermaroller would be good for my skin. Paid for 3 treatments, very painfuland suffered each time with very scoured looking skin. Ilost time off work and not only did it not repair and damage but made the skin look worst than when I started. Now my face looks like I've been cut in places and overall not good.
mags - 23-Mar-11 @ 7:39 PM
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