Protected by the law

There are different rules for private individuals selling second-hand clothes and shoes and retailers that sell second-hand items. 

If you buy goods from a trader or retailer - for example, a charity or vintage clothes shop - then you're covered by either the Sale of Goods Act (for purchases before 1 October 2015) or the Consumer Rights Act (for purchases after 1 October 2015).

Both mean that clothes must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. 

Fair wear and tear

Although clothes should be of a satisfactory quality when sold, allowances must be made for the goods being second-hand.

For example, if you buy a shirt and you realise it's torn when you get it home, then you're entitled to a refund or a replacement. 

But if you buy shoes that have scuffs on them, then you can't expect to draw on the Consumer Rights Act or Sale of Goods Act because you must accept that the shoes will have some wear and tear. 

Goods should still be as described, though. For example, if you buy something from an Ebay trader that's described as new with tags on it, you should expect the item to be new and with tags. 

If the item is more worn than described, then you'll be entitled to a refund or replacement.

You can send a letter to the retailer asking for a repair or replacement as you would do with new clothes or shoes. 

Buyer beware

If you're purchasing from a private seller, then it's a case of buyer beware. 

Unlike traders and retailers, there's no obligation on the seller to disclose faults. But misrepresenting goods is not allowed.

For example, if a private seller describes a dress as ‘a purple dress’ and they post you a purple dress but it's stained, you won't be entitled to a refund or replacement.

But if they describe the dress as ‘a brand new purple dress’ and the dress turns out to be stained, you may have recourse to request a refund or replacement. 

This is because they have misrepresented the quality of the dress. You can use our letter if you've bought goods from a private seller that turn out not to be as they were described to you. 

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