Do you know your rights if a product you’ve bought develops a fault? You have rights under the Consumer Rights Act to get a refund, a repair or replacement.
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When did you purchase the goods?
The date you made the purchase decides which legislation applies.
- If you purchased the goods from 1 October 2015 then the Consumer Rights Act applies.
- If you purchased the goods on or before 30 September 2015 then the Sale of Goods Act will apply.
Act fast to return faulty goods
Under the Consumer Rights Act you have an early right to reject goods that are unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described and get a full refund.
But this right is limited to 30 days from the date of purchase of your product.
Under the Sale of Goods Act, the timeframe is much less clear-cut and is around three to four weeks.
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.
However, this right doesn’t apply to faulty digital content.
- You have the right to reject your item and get a refund within 30 days of purchase.
- You could also ask the retailer to repair or replace your item within six months of purchase.
- Your rights against the retailer can last for up to six years, but the onus is on you to prove a fault was present at the time of purchase after the first six months.
- You can also use your guarantee or warranty if your product develops a fault.
Your rights if an item is faultyIt doesn't matter whether you bought your goods before or after 1 October 2015 - 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.
Consumer Rights Act
If you discover the fault within the first six months from delivery, it is presumed to have been there from the time of delivery - unless the retailer can prove otherwise.
During this time it's up to retailer to prove that the fault wasn't there at the time of delivery - it's not up to you to prove that it was.
If you are outside the 30-day right to reject, you have to give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace any goods or digital content which are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.
You can choose whether you want the goods to be repaired or replaced.
But the retailer can refuse if they can show that your choice is disproportionately expensive compared to the alternative.
If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can then claim a full refund or a price reduction if you wish to keep the product.
The only exception to this is motor vehicles, where a deduction can be made for fair use after the first 30 days.
Sale of Goods Act
If something is not of satisfactory quality, you have a statutory right under the Sale of Goods Act to a refund or to have it replaced or repaired for free.
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 are entitled to a full refund within the first 6 months or you can keep the item and get a reduction on the price you paid.
If the retailer refuses to help
If you're having problems and the shop won't refund or repair 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, you might want to take your complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman.
You might also want to consider using your guarantee or warranty.
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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, you still have rights under the Consumer Rights Act or Sale of Goods Act even if your guarantee has expired. A manufacturer's guarantee doesn't replace these rights 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.