Faulty goods


When you buy goods the law gives you as a consumer rights that protect you if it’s faulty. These rights usually cannot be excluded by the trader whatever his contract or any notice in his shop says. The law gives you further rights if you bought the goods over the internet or by telephone order or you paid for them with a credit card or credit loan etc.

Your consumer rights

When you buy goods from a trader the law says they must be:

  1. of “satisfactory quality” – last for the time you would expect it to and be free of any defects
  2. “fit for purpose” – fit for the use described and any specific use you made clear to the trader
  3. “as described” – match the description on packaging or what the trader told you

If an item doesn’t meet any of these rights, it is faulty and you will usually have the right to:

  1. repair; or
  2. replacement; or
  3. a refund

If you paid for something costing between £100 and £30,000 using a credit card or credit agreement, you can make a claim from your finance company.

You may have additional rights to these if a warranty is given.

If the trader makes a fault known to you and you buy the item, you can’t return it unless you discover a different fault.

Note the above rights only apply if you are buying from a trader. You have less protection if you buy your goods from a private seller e.g. from an advert placed by a private individual. The goods only have to match the description given by the seller and lawfully theirs to sell.

You also have rights if you buy a service or sign up to a contract, eg if you a hire a builder or join a gym.

Returning faulty goods

Provided you have not had the goods for a while if they are faulty return them to the shop or trader as soon as possible and ask for a refund. You will need to provide a proof of purchase, e.g. a receipt or invoice. You cannot take back goods if you caused the fault unless it is covered under warranty. You cannot take back goods if you have held onto them for too long (by law you have ‘accepted’ the goods and are only entitled to a repair).

Proving goods are faulty

If you bought the item within the last 6 months, the burden is on the trader to prove the goods were not faulty when you bought them. If you bought your item more than 6 months ago, you may have to prove the fault was not caused by accidental damage or wear and tear.

Claiming under the Guarantee

A guarantee is a promise from the shop, trader or manufacturer to repair faults that develop with your goods or service for free.

Guarantees don’t usually cost anything and last for a fixed period of time.

You can usually only claim a repair or replacement from the manufacturer if you have registered your guarantee within 28 days of buying the item.


A warranty is like an insurance policy and usually costs money. Warranties:

  • cover the costs of a repair or replacement
  • may include cover for accidental damage
  • normally last longer than a guarantee (and are often called ‘extended warranties’)

Before you pay for an extended warranty, check your item isn’t covered by:

  • the manufacturer’s guarantee – you may not need an extended warranty for the first year of owning the goods
  • any home contents insurance


If your warranty is for 12 months or less, you cannot cancel it.

When you buy certain electrical goods e.g. a computer, the trader may offer you a free support service as part of your guarantee or warranty  e.g. telephone or online support, installation services e.g. someone to help set up a computer. If you pay separately for a support service, this isn’t part of your warranty or guarantee. This means you have additional rights if the service doesn’t meet the standards set out in your contract

Cooling-off period – your right to change your mind

You usually have 7 working days to cancel your order and get all your money back if good worth over £35 were ordered:

  • online
  • over the telephone
  • by mail order
  • on your doorstep

You don’t have this cancellation right:

  • if the goods are  personalised or made to order
  • if the goods perishable, eg food or flowers
  • for newspapers or magazines
  • where the security seal has been broken on a CD, DVD or computer software
  • if you buy something from an online auction like eBay – this is known as a private sale