Worker's laptop dispute ends in victory for PC buyers

The Supreme Court has firmed up the rights of anyone who buys a PC on a credit agreement, after it ruled in favour of a worker who refused to fold over a laptop purchase in 1998.

The worker, Richard Durkin, bought the £1,499 device in PC World under a sales agreement with HFC Bank, but he took it back as the advertised internal modem wasn’t included.

Although the store eventually refunded the £50 he had paid up front, the HSBC-owned bank refused to cancel the agreement, effectively making him pay for a device he no longer owned.

When Durkin failed to make the payments, HFC treated him as being in default and intimated that default to credit reference agencies, which he says left him unable to buy a home.

The 44-year-old claimed damages for financial loss caused by the credit blacklisting and won in 2008, but the judgement, including awarded damages of £116,000, got overturned.

Undeterred, Durkin approached Britain’s highest court, which has allowed his appeal on the basis that he was entitled to rescind the credit agreement and had done so “validly.”

For HFC breaching its “duty of care” to the consumer, the court awarded him damages of £8,000 plus interest, significantly short of the £250,000 he claims the dispute cost him.

One subtext of the ruling is that people buying equipment on credit agreement, who validly cancel the sales agreement by rejecting the equipment, can validly end the credit agreement.

Mar 28, 2014
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