The most important
law on the sale of goods is the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as
amended). This is the Act you can quote if you have a problem
with goods you have purchased.
The Act is part of the civil
law - this
means that problems you have with any goods you have purchased
are not a criminal matter, so the police will not be involved.
You have to take action yourself. To do this you need to
know what your rights are and to understand your own responsibilities.
Wherever you bought your goods
(a shop, market, catalogue, the internet), and even if they
they should meet three tests. Are they;
If a seller breaks any of these conditions then
have the right to ask
for your money back
do not have to accept
a replacement; if you do accept a replacement, ask for
written agreement that if the replacements are faulty you will
still get your money back
do not have to accept
a credit note
if you agree to a
repair and it is unsatisfactory, then it will not stop you claiming
your money back.
The seller is liable for up to six years after
purchase of the goods.
If you have a valid complaint then it is the
seller who has to deal with it, not the manufacturer.
Satisfactory quality What a reasonable person would find satisfactory taking into
account the cost and age of the item.
This means that the goods should work. For
example, the zip in a skirt should not stick.
They should also be:
appearance and finish
safe and durable
You should take account of the age and cost
of the goods. Remember, 'what would a reasonable person expect?'
will not be as good quality as new.
'Seconds' will have
You will not get
good quality goods for rock-bottom prices.
Tip: If a defect has been pointed out or there
is an obvious defect on the goods, what can you do? You cannot
complain about the defect at a later date, so you buy the goods
at your own risk.
Fit for purpose
What are the goods for? For most things, this is obvious.
If you buy a second-hand car for scrap, you cannot expect it
to be roadworthy.
It also covers any questions you ask about the
goods. If you needed a printer for your computer and you asked if
it was compatible with your computer (because the packaging gave no
clear indication), and you subsequently found it was not compatible,
you would have cause for complaint.
Don't make assumptions about the purpose of the
goods you are buying. Check if the waterproof jacket is rainproof
if you need it for hill walking.
The responsibility to ask is yours. When you
ask a question, take the name of the person you asked, so you can
refer to them in future if you need to.
As described Goods should meet the description given by the seller.
The description on the packaging must also be accurate. In some
cases, you buy goods after seeing a sample; the goods you receive
must match the sample.
If a jacket is described on the label as 100%
cotton, then it should be exactly that. If you buy meat that
is described as fresh then it should not have previously been