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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 16:19   #1
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PC Technology Buyers Guide: Consumer Rights

It strikes me we are wholey uneducated about how to buy and generally deal with the expensive transactions involved in the business of being PC enthusiasts. So I'm putting together this thread with a few basic tips. It's not really the place to moan about grievances but rather how to shop smart and also how to resolve issues that may arise when things go wrong. So however heated you may get, simply remain calm and stand up for your consumer rights with these basic tips.

Change Log:


Version 1.0 (02/10/2011) - Published the rough framework of this guide.
Version 1.1 (02/10/2011) - Further information about third party payment systems.
Version 1.2 (02/10/2011) - Included template letters for Chargeback and Section 75 claims with original sources linked.
Version 1.3 (03/10/2011) - Written a brief section covering Distance Selling Regulations.
Version 1.4 (03/10/2011) - Given a description of how to contact the retailer and follow RMA procedures.
Version 1.5 (06/10/2011) - Written a section covering the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended).
Version 1.6 (11/10/2011) - More detailed information concerning the Distance Selling Regulations.
Version 1.7 (15/10/2011) - Expanded information about Section 75.
Version 1.8 (31/10/2011) - Information about interest penalties under Chargeback.
Version 1.9 (22/04/2013) - Expanded information regarding Chargeback.
Version 2.0 (16/06/2014) - Distance Selling Regulations revoked and replaced by Consumer Rights Directive.


Remember this is a work in progress thread that will hopefully provide a basic framework for you to stand up for your consumer rights. I've placed it in the 'Hardware' section because without a doubt it's the most relevant when it comes to dealing with faulty PC equipment. I would like to place on record the excellent resources available from moneysavingexpert.com and also other consumer websites. I've extracted many resources from these and reference links have been provided where direct quotes were used. The contents of my post has been tuned exclusively to buying PC hardware however these principles of course apply to anything you spend money upon.


Shopping Smart:

The internet makes sourcing components for your PC easier and more bewildering than ever before! Shop around and find the best price for components but also take in to account the sellers status. If you find a component on ebay for £10 less than a renowned on-line retailer ask yourself is it really worth the risk? Buying through an auction website diminishes your consumer rights such as Chargeback and Section 75 that will be explained in more detail latter on. It's also worth bearing in mind that given the choice it's best not to use a third party payment system such as Google Checkout or PayPal, these both diminish your consumer rights and any dispute is much easier to handle if it involves your credit/debit cards company and the retailer alone.


Saving Money

Cashback:

I want to mention this before getting on to the heavier aspects of consumer law as a majority seem to be unaware of how or where to get cashback. It's a fairly recent internet phenomenom whereby a referral website earns cashback for a sale and this revenue is passed directly to you. The two big players include quidco.com and topcashback.co.uk, all you need to do is register and make normal purchases through participating vendors but you must first login to the cashback service and access the vendors website through their referral system. A couple of examples of PC tech vendors include dabs.com and ebuyer.com but many more are registered and it's worth finding out if that expensive purchase you were going to make can accrue cashback!

Case in point: In my 3 years of using quidco.com there are simply too many to list but I shall focus on a couple of interesting cases. In the first example I purchased a very expensive 5870 graphics card from dabs via the cashback website and earned £15 that was paid a couple of months later. The card turned out to be dead on arrival but because the cashback works on a referral scheme and it registered a sale then I kept the £15 cashback. Not bad for the trouble of processing a return and refund on a faulty 5870! The second example was a special discount referral that Pixmania offered to quidco.com users. It gave a 15% discount code for PC hardware which at the time included a Crucial M4 64GB SSD and this was on top of the standard cashback available through quidco.com. When all said and done I paid around £75 for an M4 SSD when the price was more commonly £10 more expensive at that time! In both examples it's about finding the best place to buy the hardware and then getting an even better deal by application of cashback and in the latter, discount codes. Over my three years of quidco.com use I've saved over £450 which is a top of the range GTX 580 in anyones money. So it's well worth the effort. Bear in mind cashback websites can be used for a multitude of purchases outside of PC technology including DVD sales from play.com or even groceries from sainsburys!


Know your Rights

Before taking the measures below and if you have a fundamental problem with the quality of the goods you receive then it's always best to talk with the retailer involved first and foremost. I would recommend contacting the retailer on-line since it's much easier to outline your problem in clear English by this method and incur less cost and hassle compared to talking over the telephone which can prove quite stressful and time consuming. Many retailers have robust RMA (return merchandise authorisation) processes in place that deal with these very problems. Be patient and follow these procedures to the letter and also keep any paperwork including return postage receipts because if things go wrong they will hold you in good stead to fight for your consumer rights.

VISA and Mastercard Chargeback:

Not as robust as Section 75 but the Chargeback scheme is still worth exploration if you're looking for compensation of funds under £100 or where a debit card was used. It's a scheme of rules that most banks subscribe to but is not compulsary (unlike Section 75) and is a process whereby the charge can be reversed on any transaction if a problem arises with the goods you have purchased. It's also worth noting that some credit card companys will accrue interest against a disputed charge if the statement balance has not been paid in full for that particular period. So in some cases, if the charge is recent, then it could be beneficial to wait for the statement to be paid before raising a dispute. This scheme is only valid for 120 days from the date of purchase however.

Case in point: I bought a Samsung Blu-ray drive for my PC which I realised after 5 months of ownership was defective. It was a tough fault to reproduce as the problem occured intermittently generally when large file transfers from disc were taking place. Examples include game installation and producing MKV files from Blu-ray; the drive would simply stall. Returned the drive to the retailer at my own expense who then conducted tests and passed the drive as non-faulty. They also levied a charge of £20 + VAT against me which I disputed and never paid. I contacted my credit card company and stated my case asking if it was possible to apply a chargeback since the goods proved defective within 6 months (Sales of Goods Act 1979) and had been returned to the seller. The retailer soon processed my claim for a replacement not long after I filed a dispute against the original charge with my credit card company. In this instance the Chargeback had not even been processed but it undoutedly put pressure upon the retailer to replace the defective drive.

Credit Card Section 75:

Now a credit card should only be used to spend money that you have within your means. So pay for your groceries, petrol and other expenses but don't go wild and buy the latest 60" Plasma TV. That is unless you have the money to clear your credit card statement in full by the end of the month! That said if you do intend to buy individual items that cost £100 or over then Section 75 is a useful bit of law that gives you piece of mind as the credit card company is equally liable should the goods you bought be faulty. Should a company go bust during a period when you are expecting to take delivery of goods yet to be dispatched, Section 75 also provides coverage. The crucial point is that it's an individual item be it a graphics card or a complete pre-built PC system that costs £100 or over, only then is Section 75 relevant. If a Hard Drive costing £40 is bought and Memory for £60 the cumulative total of £100 does not grant you Section 75 inclusion. However the good news is that if you spent £100 or over then Section 75 does have you covered for 6 years. Now how many things costing this much do you throw out before the expiration of 6 years from the date of receiving the goods? One thing to be aware of is a small clause that if a third party payment system is used for the purchase such as PayPal, Google Checkout and other similar services then it pretty much renders Section 75 redundant. For expensive goods make sure you can pay the retailer directly with a credit card.

Case in point: An example I'm happy to put on the record involved the return of a video card that was found to be dead on arrival and cost in excess of £100. The retailer involved was Pixmania who arranged to have the package sent back to them, I simply needed to print off the postage information and drop it off at the nearest UPS depot. They recieved the faulty video card and then refunded money to a 'Pix Piggy Bank' which is associated with your individual Pixmania account and can only be redeemed aginst items they have for sale on their website. This was unacceptable and they refused to refund my credit card directly. So I processed a Section 75 claim with my credit card company which motivated Pixmania to process the refund directly to my credit card freeing me to spend the money wherever I wanted. Much like my example with chargeback, it was not necessary to complete the Section 75 claim in full, the pressure from this process made Pixmania provide a full monetary refund to my credit card.

Consumer Rights Directive:

This piece of legislation is intended to provide the consumer with a chance to see the goods first hand whilst allowing you a cool off period of 14 calendar days. Only available should you order goods over the internet, mail order or by telephone. If you decide the goods are not what you wanted for whatever reason during these 14 days you can invoke the Consumer Rights Directive and return the goods to the place of purchase for a refund. Unlike the previous Distance Selling Regulations that were revoked in place of this legislation, now if the goods show any signs of use the retailer is entitled to subtract money from any refund. Furthermore you may have to pay for return postage if it's stipulated in the terms of sale from the retailer. If it is not then the retailer must pay for the return postage and provide a refund that includes the original delivery charge. The crucial point to remember is that legally you must send notice to the retailer informing them you wish to cancel your order under the Consumer Rights Directive. This can be sent in the form of a Letter or E-Mail. From the date you cancel the order the goods must be returned to the retailer within 14 days. Upon receipt the retailer must process a refund within 14 days.

Case in point: I've not experienced this myself but I can outline an example for the sake of a demonstration! I purchased a graphics card that I tested outside of the case and it was found to be in excellent working order with absolutely no problems. Then I proceeded to build the PC piece by piece in to the computer case until it came to installation of the graphics card. When I found the graphics card was too big and simply would not fit in to the chassis! It had been under 14 days since I first received the graphics card, so invoking the Consumer Rights Directive allowed me to return the graphics card and receive a full unconditional refund. Similarly if you encounter compatibility issues with any PC components without a fault then don't delay and process the Consumer Rights Directive as soon as possible.

Sale of Goods Act 1979:

If you regret not buying that extended warranty, after reading the Sale of Goods Act 1979 you'll wonder why you even considered it in the first place! Now most manufacturers and retailers offer something in the region of one or two years warranty. However when you buy goods from a retailer, under law a binding contract is formed that basically states the goods should be fit for purpose. The duration of this contract is not one or two years but an extensive six years (only 5 for Scotland)! If the goods should fail before 6 months of ownership then the onus is on the retailer to prove the goods were not at fault at the time of sale and should offer a repair or replacement. A refund can also be requested in a reasonable time frame from the date of purchase but the law does not specify what 'reasonable' is defined as, so this is certainly a patchy area! If the goods should develop a fault after 6 months from the date of ownership then it is your responsibility to prove the goods have developed a fault. After submitting proof to the retailer you are quite within your rights to request a repair or replacement. Furthermore it is possible to request damages as an alternative which would equate to the cost of repair or replacement in a court of law.

Case in point: Quite a common example to find and one very few people act upon is the Nvidia GPU failure found in many laptops around a couple of years old. It's a fatal hardware flaw and the mountain of supportive evidence on-line is very convincing should you find yourself in the same situation. A simple engineers report should be enough to convince any retailer that you have a valid claim under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and if it doesn't the small claims court would be your next stop. If the laptop was heading for the bin anyway there is very little harm in flexing your consumer rights with this issue.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 16:19   #2
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LETTER TEMPLATES

These are template letters for guidance. You need to add your details and where appropriate change the letter to suit your particular circumstances. Once you’ve made changes, always print it out and read through to check it makes sense to the recipient.

ACTION POINTS

[BLUE BRACKETS]: Put your specific information here, then delete the instructions (and change the text colour).

[RED BRACKETS]: Just for your information, after you’ve read it simply delete.

Consumer Rights Directive

Referenced Link

Quote:

[insert your name and address including contact telephone number]

[insert name and address of retailer]

[insert date]

Dear Sir/Madam,

RE: Consumer Rights Directive

On [insert date] I ordered [insert goods]. [select from I received the goods on [insert date]/ I have not yet received the goods].

Under the Consumer Rights Directive I am entitled to a 14 day cooling off period, starting from the day after I received the goods. I am therefore writing to cancel the order and request that you provide a full refund.

Please contact me to arrange collection/return of the goods.

Yours sincerely

[insert your signature]

[insert your name (printed)]
Sale Of Goods Act 1979 (Amended)

Referenced Link
If you've bought faulty goods within the last six months.

Quote:
Your name
First line of address
Second line of address
Third line of address
Fourth line of address
Contact telephone number

Owner/Manager’s name
First line of company address
Second line of company address
Third line of company address
Fourth line of company address

Today’s date

Dear Sir/Madam,

RE: Faulty goods and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended)

On [date of purchase] I bought a [description of purchase] from you for [insert price] which has stopped working.

The problem is [enter description of fault].

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) states that when a consumer buys goods from a trader they must be: as described; of a satisfactory quality; and fit for any purpose made known at the time of sale to the seller.

This legislation also states that the seller, not the manufacturer, is legally obliged to sort out a problem if the goods do not meet these requirements.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says: if goods break within the first six months after purchase then there is a presumption the goods were faulty when sold.

My goods are not [delete as appropriate - as described/fit for purpose/of satisfactory quality] and I wish to claim a [delete as appropriate - repair/replacement/refund] of my goods under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended.

Please respond to my complaint within 7 days from receipt of this letter.

Yours faithfully,
[your name]
Referenced Link
If your goods are faulty six months after you purchased them.

Quote:
Your name
First line of address
Second line of address
Third line of address
Fourth line of address
Contact telephone number

Owner/Manager’s name
First line of company address
Second line of company address
Third line of company address
Fourth line of company address
Today’s date

Dear Sir/Madam,

RE: Faulty goods and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended)

On [date of purchase] I bought a [description of purchase] from you for [insert price] which has stopped working.

The problem is [enter description of fault].

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) states that when a consumer buys goods from a trader they must be: as described; of a satisfactory quality; and fit for any purpose made known at the time of sale to the seller.

This legislation also states that the seller, not the manufacturer, is legally obliged to sort out a problem if the goods do not meet these requirements.

The law also says I have six years from the date of purchase to claim damages for faulty goods.

My goods are not [delete as appropriate - as described/fit for purpose/of satisfactory quality] and I wish to claim a [delete as appropriate - repair/replacement/refund] of my goods under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended.

Please respond to my complaint within 7 days from receipt of this letter.

Yours faithfully,
[your name]

Credit Card Section 75

Referenced Link

Quote:
[insert your name and address]

[insert date]

[insert name and address of credit card company]

Dear Sir or Madam,

Account number: [insert credit card number]

Ref: Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974

[Use this section if the company has gone into administration or delete]
I am writing to request that you reimburse me the value of [enter amount] as paid to[enter company name] for a [enter item purchased] on [enter date] with my [enter the name of your credit card] credit card.

My claim is made on the grounds that the company has gone into administration and you are jointly and severally liable for any misrepresentation or breach of contract with the above supplier under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

[Use this section if you have a faulty good or delete]
I am writing to request that you reimburse me the value of [enter amount] as [select from full payment for / partial payment towards] a [enter item purchased] I paid for with my [enter the name of your credit card] credit card to [enter company name] on [enter date].

My claim is made on the grounds that the item purchased was faulty and I have been unable to resolve my complaint with the supplier and that you are jointly and severally liable for any misrepresentation or breach of contract with the above supplier under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

[Use this section if you would like to claim additional costs or delete]
In addition to the cost of the item, I would also like to claim the additional amount of [enter amount] for the consequential losses I have incurred as a result of the suppliers breach. These costs are as follows: [enter details of additional costs, for example cost of delivery if you have had to post a faulty good back to the supplier] bringing my total claim to [enter amount of item plus extra cost].

[Use this section for all letters]
I look forward to a full and prompt response to this letter within 14 days.

Yours faithfully,

[insert your signature]

[insert your name (printed)]
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 16:19   #3
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HOT LINKS

The above covers the essentials but for some more in depth reading here are some excellent consumer resource websites, some of which have been quoted directly in this thread:

Money Saving Expert - Basically the daddy of all consumer websites, everything you need can be found here.
The One Show: Sale of Goods Act - Nice explanation of this legislation in video form with Dom Littlewood.
The One Show: Distance Selling Regulations - Nice explanation of this legislation in video form with Dom Littlewood.

This thread has been active for a while so any interesting examples of consumers battling for their rights has been linked below to take you directly to the relevant post!

POSTS UNDER THIS THREAD

Sale of Goods Act 1979 claim against a faulty 3 Year and 7 Month old XBOX 360

EXTERNAL THREADS

Return of monitor under the Distance Selling Regulations and Sale of Goods Act 1979

CELEBRATING EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE

Below I've linked examples where Bit-Tech users have experienced customer service that goes beyond the ordinary...

Logitech Mouse Replacement
Antec Case Replacement

FUTURE LEGISLATION

Below is a link to a refreshed trans-european law called The Consumer Rights Directive that goes beyond The Distance Selling Regulations and will be implemented from 13th june 2014...

EU Consumer Rights Directive
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 16:51   #4
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Nice thread and info.

I do feel its a shame that retailers may use customers ignorance of the law to play to their favour.

Ive been around the block a few times and know my rights (in general).
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 17:10   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PabloFunky View Post
I do feel its a shame that retailers may use customers ignorance of the law to play to their favour.
Sometimes I'm unsure if customer services people are unaware themselves, or if they're trying it on.

For instance, I ordered a pre-built system from Scan last year. It arrived damaged in transit (it'd been hit so hard that the chassis had become detached inside). I didn't want a repair on a chassis for something that had been damaged in transit and so said I wanted to cancel the order, but I was told that I could not cancel a custom order. This is of course utter nonsense - that applies only to unwanted goods under distance selling rules, not rejected goods delivered damaged. The person dealing with this should know that as a requirement of their job, but I can't be sure either way if they did. After a few calls I did manage to get it sorted, and I was refunded, but had I not known my statutory rights this wouldn't have happened.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 17:35   #6
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Nice one, once finished I vote to sticky in the appropriate forum.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 17:36   #7
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Yes indeed you would expect all retailers to know the law and to follow it also.

Yes this should be a sticky.

With money being so tight for most people, they really need to be able to shop in confidence.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 19:20   #8
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I'd like to stress this is a work in progress that will be bulked up as and when I feel the urge! Also I welcome the idea of making this thread a sticky if moderators agree it provides a decent enough source of information. I've included a couple of examples from personal experience to provide the thread with a certain degree of grounded real world knowledge in the PC hardware space and consumer dealings. I've taken receipt of many goods without issue and with excellent service. It's just a little sad that when things do sometimes go wrong it's necessary to fight your corner. I hope this thread provides a basic resource for Bit-Tech readers to do so with minimal stress and effort.
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Old 2nd Oct 2011, 22:50   #9
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This needs a sticky.
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Old 3rd Oct 2011, 20:18   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster View Post
This needs a sticky.
Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Just updated the thread with Distance Selling Regulations. I remember reading a number of occasions where Bit-Techers were selling on goods for 'compatibility' issues when if they knew about the Distance Selling Regulations the goods could have been returned for a full refund! Look forward to hearing of other experiences dealing with consumer issues, please post away!
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Old 5th Oct 2011, 03:24   #11
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Why isn't this stickied yet......
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Old 6th Oct 2011, 22:15   #12
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I find it curious why some people don't feel it's within their rights to claim under this legislation and law. Must be a British thing I guess! Have no qualms making a claim myself whatever the circumstance might be. Just today I was chatting to one of my managers who said he got the red ring of death on his XBOX 360 so he just chucked it out. In my world that's as good as throwing over one hundred knicker in the bin!
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Old 9th Oct 2011, 18:49   #13
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Excellent post - if I ever run into any problems (fingers crossed that I won't) then this will def be one of my 1st ports of call

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Old 9th Oct 2011, 23:17   #14
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Excellent post - if I ever run into any problems (fingers crossed that I won't) then this will def be one of my 1st ports of call.
Hope you never use it and if you do I hope it'll be of some help! Thanks for the rep

I was thinking about combining the two template letters for the 'Sale of Goods Act 1979' in to one much like the 'Section 75' template. So then it can be deleted so it fits each particular case. Then again is it easier to leave as is with the two seperate templates for before and after 6 months?

Actually used this one myself today due to a faulty Belkin SurgeMaster! Only small change but it took all of 2 minutes to write the letter, print it off and stuff it in an envelope. I'll post it when I pass a letter box and see how they respond. Might be worth a fiver!
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 00:35   #15
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 08:16   #16
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Can we sticky this? Seems like a good idea to me, as so many people I know have no idea of their rights. Something like this at the top of the hardware thread can only be a good thing.
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 10:00   #17
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Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!Sketchee - it's over 9000!!!!!!!!1!1!1!!!
Excellent post, definately deserves a sticky. Bookmarked and +rep!
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 15:57   #18
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Another vote for this to be stickied !
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Report him for being a dick. Which should be a criminal offense IMO.
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There you are, then! Buy 100, take two, eBay a bundle of 98 at 70% the price of the 100-bag bundles, spend the profit on ale and whores.
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 16:06   #19
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Thanks for the kudos guys!

I've made the thread more 'sponsor' friendly should moderators decide to sticky it.
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Old 10th Oct 2011, 16:08   #20
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I bet a number of retailers will be fighting to sponsor your thread lol

Good advise is always warmly received (now how do I activate my bloody rep thing so I can give you some)
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