Goods bought in a sale that turn out to be faulty: Know your rights

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Dispute Resolution on Thursday, December 28th, 2017

With many of us heading off to the post-Christmas sales, or looking for bargains online, it pays to know what your rights are if you find that what you’ve bought turns out to be faulty.

High street chains often brag about quibble-free returns, 28-day refund policies and other rights that are set out on the back of their receipts, and whilst legally they don’t have to give you back your cash if you have a change of heart, if the item turns out to be faulty, the retailer has six months to exchange the item for a fully-working version instead.

As a private buyer and consumer, you have legal rights that apply whether you buy a product face to face, online, by phone or by email, and whether it’s purchased from a business or an individual trader for profit. (However, these rights don’t apply if you’ve bought something from a private individual who trades only occasionally, such as through eBay or Gumtree. The seller must not do or say anything that misleads you into buying, and they must describe the goods accurately. If they don’t, you may have recourse).

If you buy something that’s faulty, regardless of whether you bought it in a sale, you have the right to return it under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This act applies to all purchases made on or after 1 October 2015.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, sale and non-sale goods must be:

  • as described
  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for purpose

So, if you buy something in the sales, and it turns out to be faulty, you have the right to a replacement or repair, or if you return it within 30 days you can ask for a full refund of the amount you paid. If you’re outside what’s called ‘the 30-day right to reject’ period, you have up to six months where you must give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace the product before you can claim a refund. However, outside of the six-month period the burden of proof will transfer to you the consumer and the onus will be on you to prove that the item is faulty.

However, you can’t claim if you were told about the fault before you bought the item; sometimes the fault is the reason why the item was in the sale in the first place.

Faulty goods bought online

If you bought the item in an online sale, in most cases you will have additional rights to return them under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Online buyers automatically qualify for a 14-day right to a refund from the day they receive their goods. Any terms and conditions that say you must cover the cost of returning an item don’t apply where the goods being returned are faulty.

Enforcing your rights

Under the Consumer Rights Act, there are several ways of resolving your issue, depending on the circumstances and how you want the retailer to remedy the situation. Your rights are against the retailer, not the manufacturer, so if you claim, you must make your claim to the retailer.

Faulty goods are also often covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee or warranty, but this is in addition to your automatic rights and doesn’t represent an easy get-out for the retailer. Your rights may also extend beyond the manufacturer’s guarantee once that has expired.

After six months of ownership, if you want to make a claim, then the onus would be on you to prove that the problem was there when you received the product, even if it has only recently come to light.

The Consumer Protection Act 1987

This act offers physical protection to the consumer and their property from the effects of faulty or defective products. A product is defective under the 1987 Act if it is not as safe as the average person would be entitled to expect it to be. When you buy goods, they must be safe, so if you are injured by them in any way, then the manufacturer is strictly liable for any loss or damage caused to you or anyone else who has used the product.

How we can help

If you’re having trouble enforcing your consumer rights, or you’ve been injured as a result of using a defective product, then you can call us on 0330 221 8855, or contact us online.

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