Buying Goods - your rights

When you buy goods from a shop you enter into a contract which is controlled by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002) The law gives you certain implied, or automatic, rights under this contract.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says that the goods should be

  • Of satisfactory quality
  • Fit for the purpose
  • As described

When are you not entitled to anything?

  • If you were told of any faults before you bought the goods
  • If the fault was obvious and it would have been reasonable to have noticed it on examination before buying
  • If you caused the damage yourself
  • If you made a mistake, eg you don't like the colour, it is the wrong size
  • If you have changed your mind about the goods or seen them cheaper elsewhere

However, the situation may be different and you may have additional rights if the contracts involve:

  • Credit
  • Distance selling
  • Unsolicited phone calls or visits

What are you entitled to ask for?

If the goods are faulty at the time of sale, you are legally entitled to request on of the following remedies:

  • A full refund
  • Compensation (damages)
  • Repair or replacement
  • Reduction in price

Proving the fault

If you have not 'accepted' the goods and are rejecting the goods, it is usually the buyer that has to prove that the goods do not conform to the contract. This is the case where buyers wish to pursue their right to reject goods, within a reasonable period, or seek compensation.

However, in the first six months after the sale, when a consumer seeks remedies of repair or replacement, or when these are not practicable, partial or full refund, it is for the retailer to prove that the goods conformed to the contract in disputed cases. This is known as the reversed burden of proof. After six months, however, it falls to the consumer to prove that the lack of conformity existed at the time of the sale.