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Faulty Goods - Your Rights

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 20 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Faulty Goods Buying Faulty Goods

Living in the UK, we are very lucky to have excellent consumer rights protection regarding the buying and selling of goods. If we buy goods we can expect them to be of a certain standard, and if they are not we have a legal right to expect things to get resolved.

So what can you do if you buy something that's not quite right?

Buying Goods

Whenever you buy goods, you can expect that they are up to a certain standard. All goods that you buy or hire from a vendor – either from a market, catalogue, doorstep seller or a regular trader (including when bought in sales) are covered by your statutory rights

First of all, the goods must be of a satisfactory quality

This means that the goods must look good, be well made, be safe and long lasting. Unless the seller of the goods has told you that there are minor faults in the item, or that they are shop soiled, then they should be free from defects.

The goods should be as described

Whether the goods are described by signs, packaging or by the vendor, they should be exactly as described. For example, if you are told that a jacket has a fake fur decoration then it mustn't turn out to be real fur.

Finally the goods should be fit for purpose

The goods should be fit for the purpose for which they were sold. If you tell a vendor that you want to buy a pair of running shoes, then you should get shoes which are suitable for running in.

What Happens if the Goods Aren't Right?

If you feel that there is something wrong with goods that you have purchased then you need to tell the vendor as soon as you can. If you can't get back to the shop straight away, then give them a call and explain the problem over the telephone. Time is of the essence here because if you run into problems you may need to prove that you tried to contact them quickly to resolve the issue.

Under your consumer rights you are allowed a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to examine goods that you have purchased, before the law considers that you have accepted them. What constitutes a ‘reasonable’ amount of time is not specifically set out – it is different for different cases, but it’s always advisable to raise complaints sooner rather than later.

If you don’t contact the seller within a reasonable time then you may not be entitled to a refund and it will be assumed that you accepted the goods.

Contacting The Seller

If you tell the vendor quickly that there is a problem and you don't want the goods, then there's a good chance that they will just give you your money back. If they don't, they may offer you a repair (if you accept this you can still reject the repaired item if you're not happy with it), a replacement item or a credit note - but you don't have to accept this. If you do take the credit note but later discover that the seller has nothing that you want, you won't be able to change it for cash - you'll just end up buying something you don't want or losing the money.

Someone Bought me a Faulty Gift – What do I do?

You’ll have to ask the person who gave you the gift to contact the seller. The contract is between the buyer and the seller, not the person who received the gift. If the gift was from a shop you may find that they are willing to exchange like for like, or an item up to the same value if you have proof of purchase (and even sometimes without!)

Sending Faulty Items Back

Legally you are not obliged to send faulty goods back to the vendor at your own cost. If an item is big and heavy or awkward to return then ask the seller to come and collect it. This only applies if you have recently bought the goods.

In the case that you suffer loss because of the faulty goods then you may be able to claim compensation.

Remember That If You:

  • Examined the goods before buying them and missed an obvious defect
  • Were told there was a minor defect in the goods
  • Decide you just don't want the item any more
  • Make a mistake buying goods - like buying the wrong size
  • Damaged the goods yourself

then you're not legally entitled to anything from the vendor - however it's often worth contacting them anyway because many traders will offer to help out of goodwill, rather than obligation.

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