Bicycles: Manufacturers' warranties and your rights

Generic picture of bicycle gears

I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm here to answer any questions you may have about any money or consumer issues.

Please drop me a line at fergus@bbc.co.uk with your questions. You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my own blog.

Q. I am looking for advice on my statutory rights with regards to manufacturers' warranties on bicycles. I purchased a carbon framed bike in June from a local shop. Yesterday I found a crack in the frame and returned the bike to the shop. They confirmed it was a crack and then told me they would try and contact the manufacturer to see if they would "authorise" a replacement frame under their lifetime frame warranty. The shop now has the bike and I am left empty handed with no idea of when I will/may get a replacement. Am I right in thinking it should be up to the shop to supply a new bike/frame under my consumer rights as my contract is with them? It is a road bike that I have owned for two weeks and completed 220 miles of riding. It has always been used for its intended purpose. The bike was bought under a finance agreement with a 10% deposit paid at time of purchase. I feel if I am going to stand a chance of getting a speedy result from the shop, I need to know all my rights. Andrew Swash

A. The Sale of Goods Act says that goods you buy should be 'as described, of suitable quality and fit for purpose'.

The fact that the bike has a crack in the frame that appeared within two weeks of purchase would suggest that it has failed under at least one of these last two conditions, unless you caused the crack by doing something that you shouldn't have been doing with the bike.

And if goods are less than six months old it is up to the retailer to prove that the fault was not there when you purchased the bike, rather than the onus being on you to prove that it was.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying that as far as I am concerned you should have been given a replacement bike straight away, or a refund. The retailer should not have to have gone to the manufacturer because the responsibility to deal with the problem is the retailer's, since your contract is with them.

Alternatively you could have gone to the manufacturer and made a claim under that warranty, but that choice is yours and the warranty there is in addition to your rights under the Sale of goods Act, not instead of it.

Q. I have a question relating to a pension transfer being offered by a company (name supplied). I currently have a frozen personal pension valued at £35,300. This company is offering to transfer my pension and pay me a gift of 12% of the fund value for doing so - without releasing money from my pension. Apparently this is within FSA and HMRC guidelines, and is not a part of the pension liberation schemes that are taking place. Is this something you have heard of - or am I really just giving away my pension fund if I do this? David Laver

A. I will have to be honest and say that it is not something I have ever heard of. I did have a look at the company's website and there is not a lot of information on it, unless you agree to give them all of your contact details including a name, email address and telephone number, and I decided not to do that!

I also noticed that there is nothing on their site to suggest that their operations are regulated by the FCA, and in fact the disclaimer at the bottom of the site specifically says that 'if you are considering investments we strongly suggest you to seek specialist financial advice'. This is strange because it seems as though that is what they are offering! If they are giving you a 'gift' of 12.5% then it must be something that is tied up in the way they would charge you going forward for managing your pension fund, since presumably that is what they want to do.

I'm happy to have a look at the details you have and advise you further, but on the evidence of what I have seen so far it's not something I'd be rushing into.

Q. I worked many years ago for a retail chain where I had a pension. I was advised when I moved on to leave it with the company as it was a good scheme. I then moved to an insurance company and again had a pension which I was told to leave. I am about to start with another company that has a pension scheme but I am not sure if having pensions all over the place is correct. Can you please advise? Marie Jackson

A. There are pluses and minuses involved in the transfer of pension from one scheme to another.

The important thing to understand is that you need to carry out a thorough analysis of the benefits you have in your existing scheme and how they are going to be replaced with benefits in your new scheme.

Are these benefits guaranteed, for example? Will your pension increase in line with inflation every year? What happens to your pension when you die - can your spouse or children benefit? Will you lose money by transferring?

The benefit is likely to be that all of your money will be in one place and might be easier to administer, and of course might be worth more at retirement. You won't know until you have carried out a full analysis and it should certainly be worth doing that because at least you will then be able to make an informed decision.

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