Is the trader right?
- This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales
When you buy goods, services or digital content from a trader you enter into a contract that gives you legal rights and remedies. Some traders may try to avoid their legal obligations and deny you your rights. What if a trader says you cannot have a refund, refuses to perform the service again or will not compensate you if digital content damages your device? How do you know if the trader is correct?
This guide gives answers to typical problems that arise when you want to complain about goods, services or digital cointent.
Frequently asked questions
- The goods I bought are faulty and the trader refuses to help. Is this correct?
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the trader that sold the goods is responsible if the goods are not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, as described or do not match a model or sample of the goods. They must offer you a legal remedy: the short-term right to reject the goods (get a refund), right to a repair or replacement, right to a price reduction or final right to reject the goods. Even if goods are sold with a manufacturer's guarantee, you are entitled to make a claim against the trader. However, you have the option if you wish to make a claim under the guarantee. A guarantee is legally binding so if a manufacturer fails to honour it, you can make a claim against them for breach of contract. The 'Sale & supply of goods: your consumer rights' guide gives more information.
If you paid for goods on finance arranged by a trader or if you paid using your credit card and the goods cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, you have rights under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Section 75 of the Act makes the finance / card provider as responsible as the trader for a breach of contract or misrepresentation. This includes supplying faulty goods. You are entitled to take action against the trader, the finance / card provider or both. If the cost of the goods exceeds £30,000 and is less than £60,260, and the finance was arranged specifically to buy those goods, you may be able to claim against the finance company under section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if. If you are unhappy with the finance provider's response, seek the advice of the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- I returned faulty goods but the trader only offered me a credit note. Is this correct?
No. You do not have to accept a credit note if goods supplied to you are faulty. You are entitled to a legal remedy: the short-term right to reject the goods and get a refund, right to a repair or replacement, right to a price reduction or final right to reject the goods.
If you choose to accept a credit note when the goods are faulty, you may have accepted that remedy in settlement and you may not be able to change your mind.
- I changed my mind about the goods. Does the trader have to give me a refund?
If you bought goods on the trader's premises then no, you are not entitled to a refund. You are only entitled to a refund if goods do not 'conform to the contract' - for example, if they are faulty. Many traders have returns policies that offer more than they are legally required to offer and allow you to return goods when you have changed your mind; check the terms of the policy as it can vary from trader to trader.
If you bought goods from a trader and the contract was concluded at a distance and without any face-to-face contact (for example, by phone, internet, or from a catalogue) then different rules apply. In these circumstances you may be entitled to a 14-day cancellation period that will allow you to legally return goods for any reason, such as a change of mind. There are some exceptions to these rules. The 'Buying by internet, phone & mail order: distance contracts explained' guide gives more information.
If you bought the goods 'off premises' - such as in your own home or your place of work - and they cost over £42 then you may be entitled to a 14-day cancellation period that will allow you to return goods when you have changed your mind about them. There are some exceptions to this rule. The 'Buying at home: off-premises contracts explained' guide gives more information.
If you sign a contract to buy goods in your home and with the trader present, using finance that the trader has arranged, you may be entitled to a cancellation period, during which time you can change your mind and cancel the contract for the goods and the finance agreement.
- I returned faulty goods but the trader pointed to a 'no refunds' notice. Is this correct?
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, a term in a 'consumer notice' (a notice in a trader's premises that applies to all customers) that is designed to prevent or make it difficult for you to claim your legal rights and remedies is automatically unfair in all circumstances; a trader cannot rely on it and cannot enforce it against you. It is also known as a 'blacklisted' term. A 'no refunds' term on a notice is not legally binding on you and you have the right to challenge it.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibit commercial practices that are unfair to consumers. A 'no refunds' notice may be misleading and considered an unfair commercial practice under the Regulations. Report the matter to the Citizens Advice consumer service for referral to trading standards.
- The faulty goods are out of guarantee and the trader will not accept responsibility. Is this correct?
No. A guarantee is additional to the legal rights you have as a consumer. If you were not given a guarantee or the guarantee has expired, you still have rights and remedies under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
In England and Wales you have a limit of six years from the date of the breach of contract (the date when the faulty goods were supplied) in which to make a claim against the trader. This works a little differently in Scotland where you have a limit of five years to make a claim, starting from the time you became aware the goods were faulty.
This does not mean that goods have to last the five or six years; it depends on what is reasonable for the type of goods supplied.
- The 'sale' goods I bought are faulty. The trader will not accept responsibility for sale items. Is this correct?
No. You have the same rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when you buy sale goods as you do when you buy them at full price. However, if the goods are reduced in price because of a fault and it was brought to your attention before you bought it, or if you examined the goods and you should have spotted the fault, then you would not be entitled to a remedy from the trader for that particular fault.
- I have lost the receipt. The trader says I no longer have any rights. Is this correct?
No. You do not have to produce your receipt in order to make a claim against the trader for faulty goods. However, you do have to prove that you bought the goods, how much you paid and when you bought them. Normally this would be the receipt but you could use the delivery note or a copy of your bank or credit card statement.
- The clothes I bought in-store do not fit. The trader will not give me a refund. Is this correct?
Yes. You are only entitled to a legal remedy, such as the right to reject goods within 30 days for a full refund, if goods do not 'conform to the contract' (are faulty).
- I bought a washing machine at the trader's premises described as having 'some damage but in fully working condition'. I later found the casing was damaged but the trader will not take it back. Is this correct?
Yes. If the trader clearly made you aware that the washing machine had a fault on the casing before you bought it, you cannot return it for that reason after purchase. However, it should still work, be fit for purpose and as described.
- I want to buy the display model but the trader refused to sell it. Can the trader refuse to sell goods?
Yes. Goods on display in a shop are there for you to make an offer to buy (called an 'invitation to treat'). The trader is legally entitled to decline your offer to buy. The same rule may apply when goods have been marked with the wrong price; the trader does not have to sell at that price. However, if the trader misled you over the price it may be considered an unfair commercial practice and breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service for referral to trading standards.
- My present is faulty. The trader refuses to deal with me as I did not buy it. It this correct?
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the buyer makes a contract with the trader for the supply of the goods and they therefore have rights and remedies if the goods are faulty. However, under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 if the buyer makes it clear that the goods are intended as a gift for you, you may be entitled to make a claim against the trader if the goods are faulty. To prevent any problems, it's a good idea for the buyer to ask the trader for a gift receipt.
- I ordered goods for delivery by a specific date and the goods were not delivered. The trader will not allow me to cancel. Is this correct?
Provided that the delivery date is agreed between you and the trader and is made a term of the contract, you can cancel the contract and get a full refund if the goods are not delivered by that date. You can, as an alternative, seek compensation from the trader as well as giving them a final opportunity to deliver the goods.
- I ordered goods but I did not agree a delivery date. What am I entitled to?
If you did not agree a specific delivery date, the trader is legally obliged to deliver the goods to you without undue delay and in any event not more than 30 days from the day the contract was made. If you told the trader before you entered the contract that delivery within 30 days was essential and the trader does not deliver within that time, or they refuse to deliver the goods at all, you are entitled to end the contract.
- I made a contract with a trader to repair the hole in my roof. They did not carry out the repairs properly and a further attempt at repairs has not worked. The trader says they are entitled to three chances to put the work right. Is this correct?
The trader is providing you with a service and the law states they must carry out the roof repairs with reasonable care and skill. If they fail to do so, you are entitled to have the repairs carried out again within a reasonable time, without significant inconvenience and at no cost to you. Where repeat performance is impossible, cannot be carried out within a reasonable time or without causing you significant inconvenence, you are entitled to a price reduction, which can be as much as a full refund. You can, if you wish, give a trader more chances to repair but you are not legally obliged to. The 'Supply of services: your consumer rights' guide gives more information.
- I allowed a sales person into my home and signed a contract. Can I cancel the contract?
In most circumstances you are entitled to a 14-day cancellation period. The trader must give you a written notice of your right to cancel as part of your right to receive certain pre-contract information; it is a criminal offence not to. The 'Buying at home: off-premises contracts explained' guide gives more information
If you buy goods and services in your home on finance arranged by the trader, you may have the right to cancel the contract as well as the credit agreement. Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 you have a cancellation period of five days for the contract and the credit agreement; this period begins when you receive a second copy of the finance agreement through the post.
- The trader charged me a fee for using my credit card to buy goods. What am I entitled to?
Under the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which were amended by the Payment Services Regulations 2017, traders are banned from imposing surcharges on consumers for using the following payment methods:
- credit, debit or charge cards
- e-payment services, such as PayPal
- Apple pay, Android pay or other similar payment methods
Traders can impose a surcharge for other methods of payment, but the amount must not be excessive; it must reflect the actual cost to the trader of processing the payment. The Regulations apply to most sales and service contracts.
The Regulations give you rights of redress. Any requirement to pay a banned surcharge, or the part of a surcharge that is excessive, is unenforceable by the trader. This means you do not have to pay. If you have already paid the surcharge, or the excess, you are entitled to a refund.
- The trader deliberately misled me by falsely describing a product to me before I bought it. What are my rights?
You have rights under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. If the trader's misleading action was a significant factor in your decision to go ahead with the purchase, you may be entitled to unwind the contract or obtain a discount on the price you paid; if you suffered a financial loss or distress and inconvenience you can claim damages. The 'Misleading & aggressive practices: your right to redress' guide gives more information.
As the product is not as described, the trader is in breach of contract and you also have rights and remedies under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You are entitled to a refund, repair (if relevant), replacement or a price reduction. The 'Sale and supply of goods: your consumer rights' guide gives more information.
- The salesman put me under severe pressure me in my home to sign a contract. What can I do?
If the salesman used severe pressure and perhaps behaved aggressively in such a way that it affected your judgement and you then signed a contract that you would not otherwise have done, you have rights under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You may be entitled to unwind the contract or obtain a discount on the price you paid; if you suffered financial loss or distress and inconvenience you can claim damages. See 'Misleading & aggressive practices: your right to redress' for more information.
- The repairs to my car were not carried out properly. The trader said he can complete all the repairs again but not until he returns from his holiday to Australia in six weeks' time. Do I have to accept this?
No. If repeat performance of the car repair service cannot be carried out within a reasonable time or without causing you significant inconvenience, you are entitled to a price reduction. This is the difference between the contract price and the value of the car repair service actually performed, which could be as much as a full refund.
- The trader used an inferior and cheaper product to paint my living room even though I decided to go ahead with the work because they told me they would use a specific top quality product. They said it's just the same but I don't agree. What can I do?
If you agreed to go ahead with the work based on what the trader told you about the type of paint they would use, this forms part of the contract between you. As the trader did not use the correct paint, they are in breach of contract and you are entitled to a remedy; you can ask the trader to re-paint the room using the correct paint at no additional cost to you.
You may also have rights under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. If the trader's misleading action was a significant factor in your decision to go ahead with the purchase, you may be entitled to unwind the contract or obtain a discount on the price you paid; if you suffered financial loss or distress and inconvenience you can claim damages. The 'Misleading & aggressive practices: your right to redress' guide gives more information.
- I downloaded a new game on to my tablet but it crashes continually. The trader said they will provide an update. Is this the right solution?
Yes, as long as the update resolves the problem. If it fails to do so and you have not been able to play the game at all, then you are entitled to a refund.
- I downloaded a game to my mobile phone but it has damaged some of my other stored games. The trader says there is nothing they can do. Is this correct?
No. You may be entitled to have the damage repaired within a reasonable time and without causing you significant inconvenience, or you can be compensated for the damage caused. You should receive your compensation within 14 days from the date on which the trader agreed you are entitled to it.
- Key legislation
- Consumer Credit Act 1974
- Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999
- Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
- Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012
- Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
- Consumer Rights Act 2015
Last reviewed / updated: March 2018
- Please note
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.
For further information please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service, which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit the Citizens Advice website or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.
©2018 itsa Ltd on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute.