The Sale of Goods Act states that products should be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.
If a product you’ve bought develops a fault, your statutory rights mean you can reject it and get your money back or you can have it repaired or replaced.
If you'd rather speak to an adviser about your problem, call the Which? Consumer Rights Advice Line on 01992 822 829 to join today.
Our mystery shopping investigation
Watch our undercover video, as we mystery shop Amazon, Argos, John Lewis and Euronics stores, to find out what information shop staff are telling consumers regarding their rights on faulty products that are out of warranty.
Act fast to return faulty goods
As soon as you've noticed a fault, you should contact the retailer. You only have a limited time – usually only a few weeks – to return faulty goods.
Many retailers will offer a replacement, repair or refund without question, especially if the item is relatively new.
If you don't want to reject something, or it's too late to, it's worth simply phoning or visiting the retailer to explain the problem.
- You have the right to reject your item and get a refund within four weeks of purchase
- You could also ask the retailer to repair or replace your item within six months of purchase
- You can also use your guarantee or warranty if your product develops a fault
Your rights if an item is faulty
In the first six months from when you buy something, the onus is on the seller to prove it was of satisfactory quality when you received it.
If the seller simply says the problem must be due to something you've done, it's for them to prove that.
You can ask the retailer to do either, but it can normally choose to do whichever would be cheapest.
If the retailer refuses to repair the faulty goods, you may have the right to arrange for someone else to repair them and claim compensation from the retailer for the cost of doing this.
If the retailer refuses to provide any remedy, such as replacing the item, you can either have your money back minus an amount for the use you've had of it, or keep the item and get a reduction on the price you paid.
If you're having problems and the shop won't repair or replace or replace your goods then it should be reported to your local Trading Standards department as they are breaching your statutory rights.
It's worth telling the shop that you're going to do this as this could mean your complaint is then dealt with.
If the retailer fobs you off, or blames the manufacturer, think about using your guarantee or warranty.
Using guarantees and warranties
Many products, such as electrical goods, are sold with a manufacturer's guarantee (or warranty), often for a year.
Guarantees are a contract between you and the manufacturer and the manufacturer must do whatever they say they will do in the guarantee.
Usually this will be to repair or replace a faulty item. Retailers will sometimes contact the manufacturer on your behalf, but they are not obliged to do so.
However, a manufacturer's guarantee doesn't replace your statutory rights under the Sale of Goods Act and retailers can't ignore this.
It will depend on the product and the fault, but you could be legally entitled to a free repair or, in some cases, a replacement by the retailer for some time after the manufacturer's guarantee has expired.