Lucy contacted me this week about a claim she is trying to bring against a manufacturer of a product. Last May, Lucy purchased a hairdryer from a television shopping channel. On the first use of the hairdryer, her hair got sucked into the back of the hairdryer and tangled around the motor inside. What she describes as a ‘huge clump’ of her hair, then got ripped from her scalp. She also had to cut another large chunk of her hair as she could not untangle this from inside the motor.

Lucy was left with large chunks of hair missing, a severely scarred scalp, and mental scars from the incident. She contacted the manufacturer of the hairdryer, sending pictures of her head. They then organised to retrieve the hairdryer for an inspection. Four months later they wrote back to her saying that they found no fault with the hairdryer and so they were closing the complaint.  Lucy did not accept this so wrote them a further letter threatening legal proceedings; This letter was ignored. She then wrote again in December and again threatened legal proceedings. She then again chased then in February and finally she received a response on 13th  March 2018. This response was not from the manufacturer but from their lawyers. They said that any claim Lucy attempted to bring would be hopeless as the hairdryer was not defective when their client had supplied it and this is an absolute defence under the Consumer Protection Act.

Lucy’s case is that there is no effective guard at the back of the hairdryer to stop hair tangling around the motor. If this is correct, she will definitely have a case. Her key rights are as follows:

The law

Section 2(1) of the Consumer Protection Act provides that anyone who suffers damage as a result of the defect of a product, is entitled to claim damages, so long as the damage was caused wholly or partly by the defect.

Timing of your claim

Claims under the Consumer Protection Act must be commenced within three years from the date you become aware of the damage. You must also bring the claim within ten years after the product was last put into circulation.

Defence

If the manufacturer can prove that the product was not faulty when they sold it, this will be an absolute defence to a claim.

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