KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
I do not have any legal qualifications, but list below
some general information which I believe applies in the U.K. As rules and
regulations are continually changing, I would advise you seek professional advice for
clarification on any points shown:-
My thanks to Nick Condon for some
updated and comprehensive additions to this information.
When you buy goods from a shop you are protected by the
Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 which states the items purchased must comply with the
following three tests:-
They must be of satisfactory
quality. Goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard
that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description
of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.
The quality of the goods includes their state and
condition and the following (among others) are aspects of quality:-
- fitness for all the purposes for which the goods of
the kind are commonly supplied.
- appearance and finish and freedom from minor defects.
- safety and durability.
The quality of goods would not, however, necessarily be
- where the alleged defect is specifically drawn to the
buyer's attention before the contract is made; or
- where the buyer examines the goods before the
contract is made and such examination ought to have revealed the defect; or
- in the case of a contract of sale by sample where the
defect would have been apparent on a reasonable examination of the sample.
They must be fit for purpose.
This means that they must do the job you have specified you want them for. For
instance, if you ask for external masonry paint and are sold internal gloss paint,
or upholstery fabric and were sold dress fabric, these would not be "fit for
They must be as described.
If the packaging specifies double fitted sheet and it turns out to be a double flat sheet,
or the packaging states the colour as "Green" and it turns out to be pink, this
is not as described.
If your purchases are not satisfactory for any of
the above reasons, and they have not been used, you are entitled to a replacement or
your money back. You do not have to accept a Credit Note. You are not,
however, entitled to a replacement or refund if you change your mind or it does not fit,
unless the store in question has and exchange/money-back policy.
I have been asked to point out that "in the event
that goods are not faulty or defective in any way or not misrepresented, the retailer is
in no way obliged to give a cash refund, or indeed even credit (unless agreement to the
contrary was made at time of purchase). As a good will policy many retailers will issue
credit and a few will refund cash.". (Thanks
to Tom Burton for this addition)
It is worth pointing out that your contract is with the
store from which you purchased the item, not with the manufacturer in
question. It is up to the retailer to put the matter right for you and then, they in
turn, can take it up with the manufacturer. Don't be forced to take it up with the
It is often assumed that if an
item is wrongly priced the retailer is obligated to sell it at the price shown.
This is not the case, the shopkeeper can sell it at the correct price and, of
course, you can refuse to buy it. You are however entitled to report the incident to
the Trading Standards Officer.
The above safeguards do not apply when buying items privately. It is often a good idea to take
someone with you in order to witness the sale, in case of problems later.
Some traders pose as private individuals to evade the
requirements of the Sale of Goods Act (secondhand cars for instance). If you
suspect this to be the case report the personal to your local Trading Standards Officer.
When buying goods secondhand, all three basic
requirements under the Sale of Goods Act apply. Although you cannot expect goods to
be in perfect condition they should work, unless you have been told otherwise. If,
for instance, you buy a washing machine then it does not work, you are entitled to your
If you intend to buy something
secondhand, it pays to do your homework first.
Check the approximate secondhand value of the type of
item. This can be done by looking in local papers, Exchange & Mart, store
noticeboards etc. It is also useful to know the current price of the same model if
Try to go to see the object during daylight so you
can inspect it properly and get a demonstration if possible.
If it is an expensive item take an expert along with
Having made a purchase it is as well to remember -
If you paid by credit card
and the goods turn out to be faulty you have rights against the credit card company
provided they cost more that £100 and less than £30,000.
If you bought them on hire
purchase, they are not actually your property until the final payment has been
made and, therefore, if you default with payments the item can be repossessed by the
If, however, you have paid more than one-third of the
total price of the goods then they can only be repossessed with a court order. If
the finance company repossesses them without a court order you are entitled to *all* your
If you bought them on credit
terms, the goods become your property immediately and, therefore, if you
default with payment the finance company can take legal action but cannot repossess the
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