A Guide to Your Consumer Rights to Refunds and Repairs
What You Need to Know
- If you buy an items from a private seller – for example off an ad on Gumtree or in the local newspaper – then you will have fewer rights; the items only have to match the description given by the seller for them to be covered.
- You can ask for repair or replacement of any goods within six years of buying them, or within five years in Scotland.
- If you look to claim a refund within six months of the purchase and the trader disputes that the goods were faulty, it is the their responsibility to provide proof.
- If you have had an item for more than six months, the onus may be placed on you to prove it was faulty at the time of purchase.
- You will not be entitled to a refund or repair if you were the cause of a fault to an item. So, if you dropped your phone or didn’t follow the care instructions for a new jumper, then your can forget about a refund.
- A warranty may give you extra rights, even allowing you to get a refund or replacement item if you were the cause of a fault. If all else fails, check your home insurance policy.
- If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome of a dispute, get in touch with Consumer Direct who will advise you if you can take your case further.
- If a trader agrees to repair an item or to provide a replacement, they must do this in a reasonable period of time, without causing you any significant inconvenience.
For starters, any items you’re supplied by a trader, whether you’re on the high street or shopping online, have to be:
- As described.
- Fit for purpose.
- Of satisfactory quality.
If they are not all of the above, then you should be legally entitled to a replacement, a refund or to have the item in question repaired.
The responsibility for rectifying such problems lies with the trader and not the manufacturer, although, you will often have the option to claim against the manufacturer’s guarantee, should the product have one.
Getting a Full Refund
The law states that when you buy goods they have to be of a good quality. This means they should be free of any compromising faults. They must also fulfil the purpose for which they are intended and be accurately described. If the item does not meet one or more of these criteria you are well within your rights to claim a full refund.
Note that you should make the supplier aware of a problem with an item as soon as possible, ideally within a few days or a couple of weeks maximum. Leaving it any longer can mean that you are deemed to have ‘accepted’ the item in question, taking away your right to a full refund. You should also stop using the goods as soon as you identify a fault.
However, there are certain conditions under which these rights do not apply. If you bought the goods from a private individual, you are only legally allowed to claim a refund if they were inaccurately described when sold to you. Even then you must also inform the trader as soon as the fault is discovered.
When You May Not Get a Full Refund
In certain scenarios the trader may not offer you a full refund. For instance;
- If you have used the item.
- If you tried to repair the item yourself.
- If you took too long to inform the trader of the fault.
In cases listed above the trader may refuse you a full refund. However they could offer you partial compensation, a repair or an exchange in lieu of a full refund, depending on the circumstances.
Normally, how much use you’ve had from the item will be an important factor in determining how fully they’ll compensate you. How long the item should last should also be taken into consideration. For instance if a fridge where to break after just three months a trader should probably pay for the whole repair, whereas if the same fault developed after a couple of years, you might have to contribute to the cost of the work.
When Items Can't Be Repaired
If repairing an item is unfeasible, for example if it would cost too more than the item is worth ,or if repairs would take too long to carry out, then they can offer you a partial refund based on the initial value of the item minus any market depreciation and wear and tear. This means that, once again, how much use you’ve had from the item will be important in determining how much they’ll reduce the price for you.
Alternatively, a trader may also offer you a credit note, allowing you to return the faulty item and buy something else of the same value.
Remember, if a trader offers you one of the above compromises, or if they tell you to claim on the manufacturer’s guarantee you do not have to accept their decision. If you still believe you should be receiving a full refund the case can be taken to court to enforce your consumer rights, though it is wise to seek out legal advice to ensure that you have a strong case before beginning proceedings. Bear in mind that if you do accept a compromise, you cannot then change your mind.
Finally, if you yourself have caused the fault you will not be entitled to any form of compensation from the trader (unless you also brought a warranty from them which covers the damage.) You may also be able to claim compensation through an insurance or the manufacturer’s guarantee.
(Note that these guidelines only apply to items bought in the UK. If the item has been bought in the European Union, it is best to contact the <href="http://www.euroconsumer.org.uk">UK European Consumer Centre.)
- Check out the DirectGov guide to your rights and returning faulty items here.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau also offers a comprehensive guide to your consumer rights.