Consumer Law FAQs

I have bought something from a shop/catalogue/street market/door to door salesman which does not work. What can I do?
The law says that if goods are sold they must not be faulty. Unless that fault was brought to your attention at the time you bought the goods, you are entitled to your money back or to exchange the goods for something else.
Under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, any fault that arises during the first 6 months will be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery. It is therefore up to the retailer to prove otherwise.
Consumers also have a right to request a repair or replacement of the goods, (although the seller can refuse if the cost of doing so would be disproportionate to the cost of any other remedy available to the buyer, or a repair or replacement is impossible). In those circumstances the buyer can ask the seller to reduce the purchase price by an appropriate amount or "rescind" (end) the contract and sue.


I have bought something which works, but does not do what it says on the packet or is not suitable for what I bought it for. What can I do?
If goods are not the same as described or not suitable for the purpose for which you bought them then you are entitled to your money back or to exchange them. You may need to show that you told the seller the reason you wanted the goods, if you want to prove it is not suitable for the purpose for which you bought it.


Are there any times when I will not be entitled to my money back or to exchange the goods?
a) If you have held onto the goods for too long before returning them. You may be taken to have accepted them.

b) Or if you were told about the fault before you bought the goods.

c) Or if you did the damage yourself either by ignoring advice about using the goods or through lack of care.

d) Or if there is nothing wrong with the goods and you have just changed your mind and decided you do not like them. (Although some shops may agree to accept the return of the goods as a gesture of goodwill.)


If I signed an "acceptance note" when I received the goods does this mean I lose my rights if something goes wrong?
No. You are entitled to a reasonable time to check the goods and as long as you return them as soon as you can you should be entitled to the return of your money or an exchange if there was something wrong with the goods. In the UK you have up to 6 years to bring court proceedings for compensation for faulty goods, where the goods were faulty on delivery. In Scotland this time period is 5 years.


If the goods were bought for me by someone else am I entitled to return the goods?
No. The goods should be returned by the person who bought them as there is a legal contract between that person and the seller. However, that person can give you written permission to complain on their behalf.


If I return goods do I have to accept a "credit note"?
No. You can insist on the full repayment of your money. If you accept a credit note you may not be able to exchange it for cash later on if you cannot find anything else in the shop that you like. Also some credit notes last for a limited period so check this before you accept a credit note. Some companies may insist on giving you a credit note if you have held onto the goods for an unreasonable period of time before returning them.


Do I have to accept a replacement good or a free repair instead of cash?
No. You are entitled to the return of your money if the goods are faulty, or not as described, or not fit for their purpose. You should be entitled to a refund on sale goods as well. However, some companies may insist on a repair or replacement where you have held onto the goods for an unreasonable period of time before returning them.


Do I need to have a receipt before I can get a refund?
No. You are still entitled to a refund as long as you can prove you bought the goods from that particular seller.


What if the goods are too heavy to carry back to the shop. Am I responsible for the cost of taking the goods back?
No. You can ask the seller to come and collect the goods as long as you have not held onto the goods for too long and as long as the goods were bought by you and not someone else.


If I cancel an order am I entitled to the return of a deposit paid by me?
Not necessarily. Some deposits may not be returnable. You must check the agreement carefully when you sign and pay a deposit as you may lose your deposit if you do not go through with the agreement.


Does a guarantee or warranty give me any special rights?
Yes. But read the guarantee or warranty carefully to check what it covers. If a guarantee comes with a registration card you may have to fill this out and send it off before the guarantee covers you. The guarantee will tell you how to make a claim. Guarantees do not effect your normal rights for a refund or exchange, or to sue the manufacturers for any loss or damage caused because the goods were faulty.
Any guarantees offered by the manufacturer or retailer will be legally binding and must be written in plain English with details of how to make a claim. You can also apply for an injunction against the manufacturer or retailer forcing them to comply with the terms of the guarantee/warranty.


What about services? What can I do if I have not received the service I paid for?
You are entitled to certain standards. The service should be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price. The person or organisation providing the service may be a member of a trade association or other professional body or be regulated by an ombudsman. You may complain to them or sue to recover your money.


If I buy goods with a credit card does this give me any extra protection?
Yes. If the goods cost more than £100, but not more than £30,000, then the credit card company is also liable for any claim you have against the seller. This can help you if the seller has gone bankrupt and so is not worth suing.


If my complaint does not get results can I sue?
Yes. If the goods or services provided do not meet proper standards or requirements, you can sue for breach of contract and claim the return of the price you have paid or compensation for any other losses you have suffered connected to the goods or services. Also if you have been injured because the goods were defective you can claim compensation for your injuries. See Small Claims Court and Accident Claims


If I buy goods through an auction or private sale what rights do I have?
Auctioneers can refuse to accept responsibility for the quality of goods on auction. You cannot back out once the deal is made. You should read all notices carefully and look out for any clauses excluding the auctioneers liability. Goods bought privately do not have to be free of faults. They do have to live up to their description however.


Do I have any rights if my holiday is cancelled or if I do not get what I paid for?
You have certain rights when booking a holiday. If you booked your holiday through a package travel tour operator they have to be "bonded". This means if the tour operator goes bust before you travel you should get your money back.
If you are abroad they should pay to get you home at no extra cost. But, you may have to pay some money in advance and claim it back on your return.
Remember if you paid for your holiday by credit card and it costs more than £100, but under £30,000 you may be able to get your money back from the credit card company if the tour operator goes bust.
If your holiday has not gone well then check what the holiday brochure says. The brochure will usually be a contract and set out certain promises the tour operator makes about the holiday.
You may be able to sue for breach of contract. You may also have taken out insurance which may cover you if your holiday is cancelled in certain circumstances.


If I have bought something on a credit agreement can I change my mind and cancel?

You may be able to cancel if you do so within a limited period of time. The agreement will tell you that you have a right to cancel and how much time you have to do this. However, you can only cancel if the agreement was made with the supplier in person, (this means not on the telephone) and the agreement was not signed at the supplier's business premises.


If I bought goods after seeing a sample what rights do I have if the goods are not the same as the sample?

The goods must be the same quality as the sample you saw and you should be given the opportunity to check the sample against the main goods. Also the goods must not have any faults which could not be seen from a reasonable examination of the sample. If the goods are not the same as the sample you are entitled to return the goods and claim your money back or sue for breach of contract.

Consumer Law

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