Faulty goods – when can I get a refund or a replacement product?


The rules regarding the sale and purchase of retail items is mostly contained within the Sale of Goods Act 1979. Under the Act, retailers are obliged to offer a certain basic standard for the products they sell to consumers.

When they fall short of this level, consumers are given rights to claim a refund, repair or replacement.

The Sale of Goods Act

The Sale of Goods Act states that all items sold must match the description and be of satisfactory quality.

You can claim a refund if you make the seller aware of the problem within a reasonable time period (generally 2-4 weeks), and if the goods are:

  • Faulty
  • Misleadingly described
  • Not suitable for purpose

This is known as ‘rejecting’ the goods. If you are looking to reject goods, you should stop using the item immediately and contact the seller at the earliest opportunity to give yourself the best chance of a refund. You are unlikely to be able to reject the goods if they have been customised in any way.

Repairs and replacements

If you have had the goods for a while, and the reasonable time period has passed, then the retailer is still obliged to offer a repair or replacement.

If the repair is much cheaper than a replacement then the retailer may offer this, as long as it is in a reasonable time, and not at significant inconvenience. Otherwise, the retailer should always offer a replacement under the Act.

If the trader has attempted to repair or replace the item and this has been to no avail, then you may be entitled to a refund.

This may only be a partial refund however as the trader can deduct any successful usage you were able to get out of the product. For a repair or replacement, your rights can last up to six years.

Are there exceptions?

A seller will not be obligated to give a refund if you damaged the goods yourself or if you tried to repair the goods yourself, or if you failed to inform the seller within a reasonable time after the fault was noticed.

A seller may also not be required to give a refund if the fault was the result of normal wear and tear or the goods could not be reasonably expected to have lasted longer.

Similarly, if the seller pointed out the fault to you before you purchased the goods, or if the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it, the seller does not have to provide a refund.

For more details on the Sale of Goods Act, click here.

Are you in dispute with a seller after purchasing faulty goods? Caven can help put you in touch with a solicitor specialising in consumer law and Sale of Goods Act disputes. Please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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