Defects in an item

Economics, Part 5-Principles of Business / Friday, May 21st, 2010

1. When selling an item, it is wajib on the person to show all the defects that may be found in it. It is harâm to conceal the defects and to convince the person into buying such an item.

2. After purchasing an item, a person noticed a defect in it, e.g. a woman notices that a cloth has been eaten up, a shawl has some moths in it or she notices any other defect. She now has the choice of keeping the item as it is, or returning it to the seller. However, if she decides to keep it, she will have to pay the full price of the item. It is not permissible for her to reduce an amount from the total price as a compensation for the defect. But if the seller agrees to reduce the price because of the defect, it will be permissible for her to pay less.

3. A person had purchased some fabric and kept it aside. A child ripped off a corner of that fabric or cut it with a pair of scissors. Thereafter, he noticed that it is damaged from the inside as well and that a rat has eaten it at several places. The person cannot return this item because one additional defect took place at his house (i.e. when the child had cut it). However, he can have the price reduced as a compensation for the defect that took place at the shopkeeper’s place (i.e. the  several places that had been eaten by a rat). People who know the value of the item should be asked to estimate its present value and the price reduced accordingly.

4. Similarly, if a defect is noticed after a fabric has been purchased and already cut, it cannot be returned but the price will be reduced. However, if the seller says: “Return the cut fabric and take a full refund, I am not going to reduce the price”, he has the right to ask for it and the buyer cannot refuse to return it.

If the fabric has been cut and also sewn and thereafter a defect is noticed, the price will be reduced as a compensation for the defect. In such a case, the seller cannot take his fabric back.

If the buyer sells that fabric or cuts it with the intention of sewing something for her immature child and at the same time making a firm resolution of giving it to the child, and thereafter a defect is noticed, then the price cannot be reduced. But if she cut it with the intention of sewing something for her mature child, the price can be reduced.

5. A person purchased eggs and paid a certain price per egg. When the eggs were broken, all of them turned out to be rotten. The buyer can take all his money back and it will be regarded as if he did not purchase the eggs at all. If a few turn out to be rotten, he can claim the money for those that are rotten.

If a person purchases several eggs which have all been priced together (i.e. he does not pay a certain price per egg), then we will have to see how many rotten eggs come out from the entire lot. If five or six eggs are rotten out of a total of 100 eggs, it will not be considered. But if more than this turns out to be rotten, he can claim the money for those that are rotten.

6. A person purchased cucumbers, sweet-melons, water-melons, pumpkins, almonds, walnuts, etc. When they were cut open or broken open, he noticed that they are rotten. In such a case, check whether they could be used, or they are so bad that they are absolutely useless and have to be thrown away. If they are absolutely useless, this transaction will not be valid and the person must claim all his money back. But if they can be used in some way, he must pay the market value of such items. The full price will not be paid.

7. If, out of 100 almonds, four or five are rotten it will not be considered. But if more than these turn out to be rotten, the person has the choice to reduce the price accordingly.

8. A person purchased 150 grams of wheat for R1 or 100 grams of ghee for R1. A portion of both these items was good, while the balance turned out to be bad. It is not permissible to keep the good and return the bad. If he decides to keep them, he will have to keep all. And if he decides to return them, he will have to return all.

However, if the seller agrees to take back all the bad and give you the good, it will be permissible to do so. The buyer cannot do this without the consent of the seller.

9. When there is any defect in an item, the person will only have the right to return it when it is established that there is no indication that the person is happy about taking the defective item. However, once a person agrees to purchase an item after seeing the defect, he does not have the right to return that item. But if the seller takes it back happily, it will be permissible. For example, a person purchased a goat or cow. When he went home with it, he realized that it is sick or there is a wound on its body. Once he notices this defect and expresses his consent and says to himself: “Well, it’s okay. I’ve bought a defective animal”, he will no longer have the right to return it. If he does not say anything verbally, but carries out certain actions which show that he is satisfied with the animal, then too will he no longer have the right to return it. For example, if he starts treating its wound and gives it some medication, he will no longer have the right to return it.

10. A person purchased goat’s meat. When he went home, he realized that it is the meat of a sheep. He has the right to return it.

11. A woman purchased a pearl necklace or some other jewellery and also wore it at some time or the other. Alternatively, she purchased a pair of shoes and began walking around with it. Now she cannot return these items if she finds any defect in them. However, if she wears the shoes in order to check whether they fit her properly and that she does not experience any discomfort by wearing them, there will be no harm in wearing them for a little while in order to test them and she still has the right to return them if she wishes to do so.

Similarly, if a person purchases a flat-couch (refers to a flat wooden type of bed) or bed and lays them down out of necessity or begins to offer salâh on that couch or uses the bed in some way or the other, he will no longer have the right to return the bed or couch. Other items could be understood in the same manner. That is, once they are used for any purpose, they cannot be returned.

12. At the time of selling an item, a person said: “You better check it properly before you buy it. Later if you find any defect in it, I will not be responsible.” Despite the seller saying this, the person purchased the item. Later, he cannot return it irrespective of how many defects it may have. It is permissible for the seller to sell an item in this manner and it is no longer wajib on him to show the defect that may be in the item.

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