A follower on my Twitter account @grumpy_g1t raised a frightening experience with an exploding Aldi candle, which casts a spotlight on your consumer rights.

BACKGROUND

This customer bought one of the Jo Malone copy Aldi candles, left her living room for a few moments to go to the kitchen and heard a loud explosion.

She rushed to her living room to find the glass jar cracked and broken in three pieces from the heat and made a loud bang.

This could have caused a fire and the consequences don’t bear thinking about.

RESPONSE

She took to Twitter and tagged in Aldi saying, “Hi Aldi UK – not overly impressed my ‘luxury fragranced candle’ just decided to explode while I was in the other room”.

Aldi asked her to DM (direct message) them so they could discuss it further, which she did.

It transpired that Aldi asked for a code from her receipt for the exploding candle which she bought months ago.

They then offered her £5 compensation and tried to explain to a 46-year-old how candles should be used!

ACTION

I stepped in and said, “Come on Aldi UK – do the right thing here. This could have been much worse. The risks, a bad customer experience and dangerous products needs to be addressed”.

This customer posted this link saying that there have been previous issues with Aldi candles.

A cursory Google search has revealed that this is not a one-off occurrence and it has happened with Aldi candles over quite some time. That begs the question why a recall has not been made.

CONSUMER RIGHTS ACT 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that any product you buy should be;

  • Fit for purpose
  • As described
  • Satisfactory quality
  • Lasts a reasonable length of time

Nobody would really question whether a £3.99 candle meets that criteria under normal circumstances. Equally, nobody would expect a candle to explode and potentially be a fire hazard.

CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT 1987

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 applies when you have sustained a personal injury or damages as a direct result of being sold, and using, faulty products.

Whoever has produced the defective product (or holds themselves out as a producer of the defective goods) is liable for any claims.

A firm that sells own brand products is liable for any defects, as it has put its name to the item and is holding itself out as a producer.

Even though Aldi is not making these candles, they are liable under the circumstances.

Section 3 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 defines defective products, and states that a product has a defect that makes it unsafe compared to what a reasonable person is entitled to expect. All circumstances are taken it to account including:

  • Damage caused
  • Risk of personal injury or death
  • Marketing and promoting of the product
  • Warning labels
  • How the product is expected to be used by the consumer

Section 2 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 states that any claims for damages over £275 will be honoured in the event of death, personal injury or loss or damage to private property as a direct result of the defective product.

This limit is set to prevent anyone submitting trivial claims.

A claim for replacing the defective product itself would be made under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which states that goods sold are:

  • Satisfactory quality
  • As described
  • Fit for purpose
  • Lasts a reasonable length of time

You cannot make a successful claim if:

  • The product was in perfect working order
  • Reasonable wear and tear caused the damage
  • You have not followed the instructions or warnings which caused the damage
  • You have used the product in a way that it is not designed or made for which caused the damage

A Court would weigh up the merits of any claim before passing judgement on liability for any damage caused by a faulty product.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

I like everything about Aldi but they got it wrong on this occasion. Not only that, but they did it with a journalist who is well-versed in dealing with the Press Office of organisations and will escalate it.

Customers expect a frictionless experience and know that things can go wrong. It’s how a complaint is dealt with (often badly) that aggravates customers more than the actual reason itself.

A sincere apology, genuine empathy, a staff member taking ownership and going over and above what is expected would have nipped this in the bud.

Instead, what will happen now is that this incident will be escalated by a journalist who is well-connected and it will travel far and wide. Cases like this can go viral on social media within minutes and consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about their consumer rights and different platforms to air their grievances.

These candles should have been subject to a recall long before now, and I am expecting that to happen now.

CUSTOMER LOYALTY

In an era where everything is much the same, the one thing that sets a firm apart is great customer service. I have spoken about this on many occasions and I have used Jet2 and Lookers Nissan as an example of firms that set the bar for others to aspire to.

O2 and Bulb are also shining beacons in a world of mediocrity. These firms know what their competition is like and they have their fingers on the button with UK call centres and well-trained staff.

This in turn inspires customer loyalty with consumers acting as unpaid ambassadors promoting the brand to friends and family and on social media.

What are your thoughts on the Aldi candles and this experience? Which firms are you loyal to and why?

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