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Buyer Beware

Do you know someone who whatever they buy from whatever source there is likely to be a problem?  I do – my mum must be the most unfortunate consumer –she is the only person known to have found a well-known ice cream cone without a cornet! 

More worrying is the trend I have noticed on a range of quilting forums, blogs and websites – UK and worldwide.  Tales of woe from undersized fat quarters or fabric cut way off grain to poorly executed long arm quilting prevail.  So often we shrug and buy more fabric or hope no-one will notice the poor quilting or disappointing backing used.  By and large we quilters are a jolly, smiling bunch so why would we want to complain to a local quilt shop that brings fabric, threads and notions within easy travelling distance or indeed, to that very helpful online store with a great range of products, speedy delivery and helpful staff?  I am certain they want happy customers who come back to them rather than notice a drift away as a bad experience gains momentum online.

So what are your rights if you have jelly roll strips that are far from straight or quilting that wasn’t what you had envisaged?  The Sale of Goods Act 1979 says that any goods you buy from a trader must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match any description given.  If they aren’t you normally have a right to return the item for a full refund including postage and packing.  Bear in mind you need to be prompt about this – you can’t expect to uncover a problem in your stash several years later and return it expecting a refund.  If you have used or changed the item in some way you will not be able to get a full refund so do check your fabric carefully before you start cutting.  The manufacturer may get involved if it is a notion or pre-cut but your first stop must be the trader.  Return the goods with your receipt (a copy if an online purchase) in the condition you received them. 

Services can be more difficult – if you order curtains, that the supplier has measured and fitted, and they prove to be two inches too short your case is clear.  Faulty workmanship can be obvious but the solution less clear-cut.  You should return the quilt and ask for the problem to be resolved to your satisfaction – this may involve a discount/refund or the work being corrected.  However if you discussed backing and quilting designs with a supplier and you are unhappy with the materials used it can be difficult to prove that you did not choose these options.  In this case buyer beware is crucial – make sure that all your instructions and the agreed process are written down.  If they are supplying the fabric and thread ask to see a sample and keep it!  Make sure you agreed a timescale if you have a deadline.  A good supplier will be happy to do this – ask to see samples of their work, ask your quilting group if they can recommend a supplier. 

For more information about consumer rights you can contact Citizens’ Advice Bureau ( or Trading Standards