AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Computers & printers

Contents

Computers

Before you buy your PC

You should do some research before you go shopping. The following are good starting points:

  • Look in PC magazines and on the Internet for articles comparing the different models and prices.
  • Go on a course to improve your understanding of computers and help you get a better deal when you buy a PC. There are lots of different courses you could try, from beginner level to more advanced. UK online centres can help you get started on the Internet. A database of all UK online centres is available online and there is a helpline on 0800 77 1234.
  • Ask friends and family about their experiences with PCs.
Where to buy

You have a number of different ways in which you can buy your PC. Each has different advantages and disadvantages as we have set out below:

Buying from a manufacturer or supplier direct

Buying from a manufacturer or supplier direct (by telephone, Internet or mail order) is a good option if you know about the system you want. It can be cheaper because the sellers' overheads are low. Buying in this way will also entitle you to a seven day cooling off period after the goods are delivered, so you get a chance to check them over and cancel if it is not what you want. You should get an order confirmation via email immediately when you buy online.

High street shops/superstores

These could range from a large retail chain to a small local, independent shop. You may not be able to take the PC away immediately as many are built to order. However, you can usually test the system before you buy. Independent stores may sell or be able to order a wide range of products.

Shop around between lots of sellers to find the best deal for you.

Tips on buying your PC

Having done your research and decided on where or how you want to get your PC, here are some tips on buying it:

Before buying

Think about what you want your PC to do and decide your budget. Don't buy a more complex PC than you need, but at the same time, think about what you might want it to do in the future. This will save you time and money in the long-term.

Don't be afraid to talk to sellers. Explain what you want your computer to do and ask for their advice.

Buying on credit

If buying on credit, shop around because your seller may not offer the best deal. Try to make sure that you check the terms on early settlement in your credit agreement because some schemes can carry heavy penalties for settling a credit agreement early.

Using credit card protection

If you purchase your system using a credit card or finance agreement, you may have additional protection. Credit providers may share liability for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by suppliers of the goods or services, which have been financed (even partially) by the credit.

See our 'Problems with goods' section for more information.

Bundles

Sellers will sometimes sell computers in bundles that may include a PC, printer and scanner, perhaps a digital camera or software. Try asking the seller to take any items out of the bundle that you don't want or need and to reduce the overall price accordingly.

When making the purchase

Buying online

When buying online, make sure that the company has a UK contact address and telephone number in case you need to get in contact with them. You might want to check for privacy-vetted websites displaying trading standards logos, such as those of Which?, Web Trader, Trusted Shops and TrustUK.

It is also important to know your rights when buying online. For more information, see the 'Buying' section of our 'Internet shopping' section.

Read terms and conditions

Always read the terms and conditions and small print on any official forms. Make sure you know what your terms and conditions cover and what they do not.

Retain all paperwork

When ordering, make sure that you get and keep copies of all receipts, details of the order, confirmations, correspondence and order numbers of your PC purchase.

Upgrading

If you want to upgrade, the most important thing you must be sure of is that the components are compatible. Always carry a list of your computer's specifications with you to check that the products you wish to buy will be compatible. You cannot expect all new software to be compatible with your system.

If things go wrong

If you are unhappy with your PC or with the service provided by the seller, try to sort it out directly with the seller (or the head office if the seller is part of a chain).

  • If you can, stop using the PC
  • Be certain that the fault was not caused by misuse, an accident or by not following any assembly instructions
  • Locate your proof of purchase. If you haven't got a receipt, you can use a credit card voucher or cheque stub. Own-brand goods, something exclusive to one shop or the packaging may prove where you bought the item. If someone was with you when you bought it, they can back you up. Remember it is up to you to show where and when you bought the PC.
  • You will now need to contact the trader straight away and report the problem. If you bought the PC locally, visit the trader. Take any proof of purchase with you.

If the PC is faulty

If you can prove that the goods were faulty when you purchased them, then you are entitled to a refund. This does not mean, however, that the fault must be apparent at the time of purchase. You can still claim a refund if a fault develops after you have purchased the item and you can say that there must have been some hidden defect in the item at the time of purchase because, otherwise, the fault could not have developed in the time that you have had it.

If you would prefer a repair of the faulty PC, you can also make this request. This repair must not cost you anything and must be done to a good standard. If the repair is not performed to a good standard, then you will be entitled to request a refund.

If the seller denies responsibility

It is often the case that goods sold (for example, a TV set or a refrigerator, or in this case, a PC) have a guarantee from the manufacturer to make good any fault found with the goods, within a certain period, provided the manufacturer is notified within a certain date of such defect.

Sometimes the seller refers this guarantee to the buyer and rejects any responsibility for faulty goods.

However, it is worth noting that the manufacturer's guarantee will not affect the buyer's right against the seller to claim a refund of the money paid for the goods under Section 14 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (that the goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for their purpose). However, the buyer must not delay in informing the seller of such defects.

If the seller tries to deny his or her responsibility for your PC and tries to refer you to the manufacturer, you should not accept this excuse.

Printers

Printers are an important piece of equipment to go with your PC. However, buying a printer may not be as straightforward as it seems.

Before buying

Think about what you need the printer to do for you. Do you want to print in black and white only, or colour photographs? Will you be doing a lot of printing? You also need to ensure that the printer you buy will be compatible with your computer. You should take manufacturers' claims with a pinch of salt as they will be very careful to ensure their product is shown in a good light. You should also be careful of product comparisons by manufacturers because they are easy to manipulate.

Printer cost

Don't assume that a cheap printer is always a good bargain. It may use more ink and therefore be more expensive to run. The best printer for you will depend on more than the initial price.

Ink cartridges

Ask the seller how much the ink cartridges cost before you buy your printer. They can be expensive - ink can cost more than twice the price of the printer over its lifetime. Also ask the seller how many pages an ink cartridge will print and how much it will therefore cost to print per page, for both colour and black and white. Lastly, ask how many pages it will print per minute to check it is not too slow.

All these questions apply even if you buy the printer in a bundled package along with other products or software.