10 crucial consumer rights facts Tips to ensure you’re treated fairly by retailers

01 March 2010

Sale shopping

A new campaign has been launched to ensure shoppers get a fair deal when buying goods, and to dispel the common myths that may prevent people’s consumer rights from being upheld.

The initiative, called ‘Know Your Consumer Rights’, is a joint venture from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Consumer Direct and Consumer Focus.

The three organisations have come together to offer 10 top tips on , which may include a few surprising facts.

Know your consumer rights: 10 top tips

1. Not my style: You might be surprised to learn that, if you buy something in a shop, you do not have the right to a refund if you later decide you do not like it.

2. Six month rule: It’s worth being aware that if you make a claim for the repair or replacement of faulty goods within six months of purchasing them, it is actually up to the retailer to prove the item was not faulty when it was originally sold to you.

3. No receipt required: Contrary to popular belief, you do not actually need a receipt to obtain a refund for faulty goods. What you are likely to need is proof of purchase – but a bank statement, cheque stub or credit card slip should be sufficient.

4. Online is fine: If you buy goods over the internet, under the Distance Selling Regulations you have the right to a seven-day ‘cooling off period’ from the date they are received. You can send your items back in return for a full refund, no matter why you have rejected them – and even if it’s because you have simply changed your mind.

5. Returning items to a retailer: When you buy something, your ‘contract’ is always with the retailer, not the manufacturer. Therefore, you should always take a faulty item back to the shop where you originally purchased it.

6. Fit for purpose: Any goods you buy from a retailer should be fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. If they are not, you are legally entitled to claim for a refund, repair or replacement.

7. Act quickly: If your goods are faulty and you wish to claim a full refund, you must return them to the retailer within a reasonable period of time.

8. Smarter sales shopping: You are not entitled to a refund on sale goods if you were made aware by the retailer that the goods were faulty or if the fault you are concerned about was obvious at the time of purchase. Also, if you decide you no longer like the goods, you are not entitled to a refund.

9. Nearly new: If you buy ‘nearly new’ second hand items, your rights to a refund, repair or replacement are similar to those you would have for new goods. However, the law will not expect second hand goods to be of the same quality as brand new ones.

10. Stick up for your rights: If a retailer is failing to acknowledge or respond to your consumer rights and you live in England or Wales, you can file a claim against with the small claims court (provided your claim is for under £5,000).

Consumer rights guides

For more information on your consumer rights, check out the Which? guide to the Sale of Goods Act.

Our website also features handy, simple and specific information on returning unwanted gifts and online shopping

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