Dáil Éireann - Volume 310 - 29 November, 1978

Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Bill, 1978: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. V. Brady: When I reported progress last Thursday I had said this was one of the most important Bills to come before this House. It has received the unanimous support of all parties and a definite welcome from all sides of the House. Therefore, it should get a speedy passage through the House, although I have no doubt a number of technical matters will require some teasing out on Committee Stage.

Speaking last week I mentioned the difficulties which might arise in relation to articles or goods of a technical nature. A foreign manufacturer may not accept that an article was defective at the point of sale, and may state that the defect did not arise at the point of manufacture but was caused by negligence on the part of the consumer or the user. Obviously this would cause serious difficulties for the sales agent or the retailer. If the courts were to find in favour of the buyer, this could cause a number of difficulties and also expense for the seller although the problem was not of his making.

Under the 1893 Sale of Goods Act the contract between the buyer and the seller was equally binding, but this new Bill puts greater responsibility and onus on the seller to ensure that his customers will have full protection and that the goods sold will satisfy the requirements or the needs of the purchaser. No one [369] should think for one moment that this Bill will solve all the problems. There are a large number of difficulties in this area, and the passage of this Bill will not convert over-night people who are trading for a fast buck or a fast profit.

There are far too many chancers in business today as is generally known, particularly those who are here today and gone elsewhere tomorrow. This type of trading is becoming a very serious hazard to commerce and undoubtedly it is cheating respectable, established, reputable traders who are giving employment and contributing a fair share to the economy. This area requires urgent legislation. In the meantime, the consumer is being tempted and exhorted by advertising pressure in a very big way to purchase every household article imaginable: furniture, carpets, electrical goods, toys, and so on, which are advertised at give-away prices.

Unfortunately, in many cases the public are actually queuing to get into hired halls and sheds and millions of pounds are leaving the country with little or no return for anybody. In a situation like that, the consumers need protection from themselves. Goods bought at these sales, whether they are called bankruptcy sales, fire damage sales, monster sales, or whatever, are generally foreign made. Many of them are unbranded and junky. They carry no guarantee. Generally the sellers are unknown and the consumer has no redress in the event of articles proving unsatisfactory in any way.

In the case of electrical articles there is an even greater danger. Very often inferior electrical goods such as electric blankets, fires, heaters, and so on, can be a serious hazard. As we know, 95 per cent of them do not conform with safety standards as laid down here. The consumer is under severe attack by unscrupulous traders. From now until Christmas there will be a constant barrage of advertising by fly-by-night merchants. Consumers have been conned. As a temporary measure the Minister responsible should draw the attention of the public, in the media if necessary, to the serious risks they are taking in purchasing goods from this [370] type of trader.

There is a very strong lobby advocating action in this area. I hope the Minister will consider introducing some measure which might curb that type of trading. The section in the Bill relating to the sales of used cars is very timely and very necessary.

Debate adjourned.