A Question About Refurbished/Used/B-Grade/Open Box Items

Found 8th Jun 2010
Ok, story time. I bought a Samsung N130 netbook from Thebigdiscountstore recently, advertised as "New, In Box", and it appeared with B-GRADE stickers all over it. Duly returned.

Today I got another replacement (which was supposed to be exactly the same) and it was the NC10 (older model, with the exact same specs), but the box had already been opened (stickers ripped off and seal opened). Yet when I emailed to complain they said that it is "New" and they open EVERYTHING to check that all is well. Now, I've never known ANY company that has felt the need to open "New" stock. Is this a technicality they can get away with, or should they be more honest with their descriptions?
Community Updates
Most big stores workers = mongs
Kick up a stink and complain, threaten to post your experience on every review website and blog. If the seals are broken it isn't new regardless. Ok some ebay sellers like to check the contents before sale to avoid negative feedback but a retailer have no need to do so.

Explain to them in your politest manner that this is the second error on their part they can either supply you the goods you wanted, with a little measure of goodwill, or refund you your money in full.

I find some retailers are all too happy after a polite complaint to go that little extra mile to rectify their error.
I think it is reasonable to expect a "New" box not to be opened! The earlier reply: "We also did a quality check and inspection before the item was sent , so this is the reason it has already been opened. I can assure you the iten is new and we offer a 12 month guarantee with all our electrical products."

I told them I thought that was patronising, (I mean come on, stickers ripped off and seal broken)! Why would you open a "New" item? And if they do inspections, why send me the wrong model?! My trust is already a little dented as a B-Grade item had been sent out, so I'm entitled to suspect the worst.

The manager on the phone said I'd upset her co-worker with the "patronising" statement (certainly not my intention) but it seems they are being a little vague with their descriptions. I certainly won't be ordering anything electrical from them again. I hope other people's experiences have been better; I may just be unlucky.

The manager also stated that ALL electrical items are opened and inspected. Again, why would that be, if they're "New"?

Edit: My bad, the Hard Disk seems to be in two 70-odd GB partitions, so at least it's a similar machine. I quite like the NC10, looks funkier than the N130; but my God, I wasn't expecting all this b*llocks.
I like the cheeky comment about upsetting their co-worker. They wouldn't like me complaining then, I have a PhD in moaning...lol. Cheek of them for that I would just ask for a straight refund, regardless if I needed the product, and tell them they can stick their so called 'new' products where the sun doesn't shine.

As for opening all boxes, do Currys or Comet do this...NO so its simple that they are probably selling refurbs or customer returns as new, which isn't allowed.

I'd dread to think what the rest of their service is like.
Sounds like a very amaturish company. Are they a Play offshoot? :-D

Post a neg review (regardless of whether they resolve it or not) as a heads up to other HUKDers

The manager explained to me that they are a surplus (ex-catalogue stock) company and customers keep the items for up to 14 days then return them, so it's obvious they're not "New". I tried to get this point across (that the advertising on the site is misleading) but she wasn't having it; she even said "Are you calling me a liar?" (!!). I didn't use those words, I just stated that fact.

She said that as my "new" netbook should be set up ready to go (ie, factory settings) it was proof that the item was unused. No, I said, I can quite easily reset a computer back to factory settings myself if I so wish.

In fact, talking to her made me even more annoyed, she absolutely refused to admit the electrical items on the site were anything but "New". Isn't this against the Trade Descriptions Act or something? Her main concern seemed to be about my angry tone (and I was NOT rude, even though I felt their email response to me was taking the mickey) and her upset colleague.

I think I should email this link to her, but doubt it'll get me anywhere..

As for the NC10, I love it and think it's a great machine, and I need one for my upcoming trip (running out of time). I just hope it doesn't go t*ts up on me any time soon..
well if it is a customer return it cannot be resold as new, unused or not, only as a refurb, graded product, or as an opened box.

Once the seals are broken it is not new. Tell her to refresh her sale of goods act knowledge and search the net if need be. once a product's internal or external packaging has been opened, it is illegal to attempt to sell it as brand new.
Thank you simplyjimbo

I've emailed this page to Grattan's customer services head (TBDS is affiliated with Grattan), and asked them to please send it to someone who will read it. So, perhaps they may change their descriptions in future at the very least.

The upset colleague did a lot of work to get me a replacement (the manager said), and I know she didn't personally pick it from the warehouse. But I was quite insulted when I received the "new" open box with torn stickers all over it!
if you find you still get nowhere you can always email Koert Tulleners, Chief Executive [EMAIL="koert.tulleners@fgh-uk.com"]koert.tulleners@fgh-uk.com[/EMAIL]. I normally do this to any company if their staff give me the run around and tend to get a good result.

address found at connectotel.com/mar…tml
You're talking about a netbook (NC10) that came out at the end of 2008! (The one I got as a replacement). So how do I know it's only been sitting in a warehouse all this time? Opened, of course. (Manufacture date on the back is June 2009).

Grattan phoned me back, said it's nothing to do with them, and directed me back to Thebigdiscountstore (just listened to my answer machine). Sigh.
Surely it must be to do with them as "The Big Discount Store is a trading name of Grattan plc", and both are registered at the same address. They must have some clout if you speak with higher management. Normally, CS staff will say it has nothing to do with them as they probably have no authority.

The Freemans Grattan Holdings (FGH-uk.com), again registered at the same address, will also have something to say about this as they are the holding company and each of the directors are directors of each company. I would write to Mr Jakob Jacobus Koert Tulleners at the email I gave you and see what he has to say. Or you could call and ask to speak with Mr Juren. Schulte Laggenbeck, the Managing Director.
Thank you again, simplyjimbo :thumbsup: I'm not always at home so I missed a few phone calls from TBDS yesterday, Wednesday (I assume they've seen this thread as I sent the HUKD link to Grattan's Customer Care Manager). Shame no-one replied on here.

I'll wait and see if they email, before taking the next step.
I got an email back, sadly my main point about their definition of "New" was ignored, just offering me a refund and a courier pick-up. I think it is in the interests of future customers that I take it further (and they can call me names if they like!).

I cc-ed this reply to Grattan's CEO and Thebigdiscountstore's manager.

"The crux of the problem is your insistence that the items sent to me are "New", (as stated in the thread* I sent Grattan's Customer Care Manager), I was advised if a box is open it is actually illegal to sell an item as "New" (Re: Sale Of Goods Act).

I was very offended that you implied I was calling you a "liar", I did not say that word, I was stating this very obvious fact. You advised that, as a surplus retailer, customers can keep items for up to 14 days until they decide to return them: why are they then considered to be "New"? I can easily return a netbook back to "factory settings" myself, which you said was proof the item was unused.

As I received a B-Grade item first (Samsung N130 netbook), I was entitled to be annoyed and unsure about the replacement I received a few days later; with stickers ripped off and seal broken. I sent pictures as soon as DHL delivered it. Your concern seemed more about my annoyance and your co-worker's hurt feelings.

The back of the replacement netbook (NC10), which wasn't the same model I ordered, is an older model and has a manufacturing date of June 2009. I have no idea what its history is, and I'm unsure if it's been sitting in a warehouse untouched as it was already opened.

I am cc-ing this email to Mr Jakob Jacobus Koert Tulleners, Grattan's CEO, and perhaps he will encourage Thebigdiscountstore to be a bit less vague with descriptions on electrical items. I'd like to hear his thoughts on this matter.

It's a real shame as I have bought clothes/shoes/household items from your site and been delighted with my shopping experience in the past.

*The thread in question is here: hotukdeals.com/ite…ems?p=8788659&posted=1"

Again, I do like the NC10, but the customer service is pretty shoddy, sent a B-Grade item, then the wrong replacement, dealing with a belligerent manager, and I have a "New" already-opened netbook whose history is a complete mystery to me! If they don't consider that poor customer service, then, words fail me.

Thebigdiscountstore, put yourself in my shoes. Would this manager like to receive a "New" television which had been ripped open previously? I'm sure she wouldn't.
I got a reply (sorry for those having to read such tedium) and responded:

"I still don't understand; you're saying the only way electricals can be returned to Grattan is if they're faulty? I can't see any other reason why a box would be opened. Certain websites/stores sell "open box" items at discounted prices purely because they are either returns or refurbished. This should not be advertised as a "New" item regardless of its history.

Again, High Street retailers have no need to open "New" items and it's unlikely that a catalogue store would open EVERY "New" box, it would be a waste of time and manpower!

Referring to this comment
(their reply to me):

To clarify further, I was explaining that if you ordered from the catalogue you get a time to return your items ie 14 days, We as a discount retailer do not offer a 14 day refund policy on electrics unless faulty. I am sorry you are offended by my comments, I was merely trying to explain to you how our website worked as it is unique and not like any other high street electrical retailer. "

Regarding the NC10 being more expensive, it has not been manufactured for some time, superseded by the N130 in September 2009, and technology depreciates quickly. As a discontinued and open-box item it would make it even cheaper anyway. The NC10 manufacturing date on the back (June 2009) makes it around a year old."

The manager implied that the NC10 is more expensive because they Googled it, but I'd be surprised if you could get an NC10 ANYWHERE now. I paid around £184 for it.
Looks like they are doing their best to avoid their failings of still advertising items as new when they are not. By now I would have had enough of the BS and contacted ASA and Trading standards. Although they may not offer 14 day refund policy unless faulty they are legally obligated to comply with distance selling regulations, discount site or not.

The person is clearly lacking sales of goods act knowledge, not all sales staff or managers understand it properly / know it and instead just think they do. This person must think that you are desperate for the netbook. I would wait a little longer for the CEO / MD reply email and then send the thing back.

100% total cowboys. I would rather shop at argos clearance than there.
Don't get me wrong, they have offered a refund, they don't have any Samsung netbooks left. I was trying to get them to clarify what "fit for purchase" means and why the boxes would be open. I think it's an utter cheek that they would state a discontinued netbook (NC10, which has the exact same specs as the newer N130) would be "more expensive" just because they Googled it!

The very fact it was open and is discontinued would have it in the bargain bin anyway. The only explanation I got for the boxes being open was, "The nature of our business, we cannot guarantee the packaging of items to not be opened, and Trading Standards fully understand the way our business is operated. I have investigated further with our Stock Manager who has confirmed to me that the original netbook you purchased is actually deemed as ‘fit stock’ and not a seconds." Which is as clear as mud. They obviously have no idea where this netbook has been for the last year or so.

The manager has basically said she's not replying to emails any more, so hopefully the CEO will be more courteous and factual.

The latest (and last) email from the manager says:
"The no refunds on electrics except faulty is for our retail chain and not Grattan as you state.
We are different to the high street retailer, due to the way the mail order works. If you are happy with your purchase, I now see the matter has being closed. Many thanks"
..Which has an air of "Get Lost" about it

I like the machine, but, I don't know its history, and I'm about to go on holiday (the reason for my purchase). So, unsure what to do next.
As you say their 'get lost' message says it all. This company is talking bull and ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) would be all over them for falsely advertising something as new when it isn't.

Yes the netbook maybe nice but its history is unknown and it is not as advertised. I know you are going on holiday but I recommend that you return the item and get your money back, under distance selling regulations mail order works in a different way and you are fully entitled to return the item for any reason and the seller has to refund you.

The stock manager and this person have no idea of trading laws by the sounds of things and act more like a useless pair of cowboy from ebay sellers rather than a company that is owned by a PLC with shareholders.

I would look at Argos clearance on ebay as they often have something good on offer at more often than not are actually unopened brand new items yet are advertised as refurbs. There have been many deals posted on here all of which have gained a lot of heat indicating they are good deals.
The reply from the CEO:
"I have read the emails between yourself and a number of our staff with interest and have particularly taken note of your complaint.
I notice that from the emails our staff members have offered to take back the notebook and also offered you a full refund, in other words, you have the opportunity to return the item if you are still unhappy.
I recognise that you are under the impression that the item was not necessarily new but since it is pretty well known that our discount store sells off overstock from our various catalogues, there is always a possibility that when items are returned unused, they are inspected to ensure they are fit for stock and put back in our inventory. For your information, this is normal practice for the Mail Order trade and is also perfectly legal.
I trust this clarifies your situation."

So the answer to the question, Are the electrical goods New, In Box? is maybe, maybe not. Suppose it's a more definite answer. At least anyone reading this knows what to expect.
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