A couple of weeks ago I highlighted what to think about when buying goods online. Now let’s look at the law relating to the sale of goods generally.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that anything you buy from a shop trader must be:
(i) of satisfactory quality (ii) as described and (iii) fit for purpose.
“Satisfactory quality” means that goods should not have any faults (even minor ones) unless they have been sold as faulty or damaged.
“As described” means goods should be the same size, colour or made from the material described on the label or brochure.
Dangerous goods always break this law.
“Fit for purpose” means goods must be fit for their general purpose and any particular purpose that you make known to the trader at the time of purchase.
So, if you were buying a watch, it should accurately tell the time.
If you are buying a watch and say to the trader that you are going to use it when diving, then it should be water tight still work after you have been diving.
Goods that are fit for purpose should also last a reasonable length of time.
As a consumer, the person you have a legal contract with is the shop trader you bought the goods from.
So you should complain to the shop rather than to the manufacturer. You are entitled to reject faulty goods and claim a full refund. You must do this within a “reasonable” timescale.
You will need proof of purchase.
It is not necessarily the receipt itself, for example a bank statement is also proof.
Also, although most shops offer gift receipts, legally only the person who paid has a right to return faulty goods.
To avoid any hassle it’s best to use gift receipts where available.
You have no legal rights to a refund if you simply change your mind or have bought something in the wrong size or colour. However, most shops do offer you an exchange as a gesture of goodwill.
So before you buy goods, it is always a good idea to ask the trader whether they have a returns policy and make sure you read it.
For more information see the BBC Rip Off Britain website.