Trading Standards - Advice for Consumers
The Citizens Advice Bureau consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. For leaflets and sample letters please click on the button to left or link above to visit their website. You can also call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0345 40 40 506
Your rights, unsatisfactory services/goods and legal procedures.
There are several laws which protect consumer rights visit the Citizens Advice consumer service website from the link at the top of the page for more information.
When you buy goods from a trader, they must:
- match any description given
- be of satisfactory quality. This means what a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory
- The goods should work properly, be free from minor blemishes, have a reasonable appearance and finish, be safe to use and durable
- be fit for their purpose which means they should do what they are designed to do or any purpose made known to the seller
You have no legal rights where your complaint arises from:
- fair wear and tear
- misuse or accidental damage
- your decision that you no longer want the item although there is nothing wrong with it
- faults that you knew about before you bought the goods e.g. where the goods were marked as 'shop soiled'
If you do not get satisfaction at this stage, you should write to the trader (sending the letter by recorded delivery post) setting out the full details of your purchase, the problems or faults with the goods or service and a statement to the effect that you are rejecting the goods. State that if you do not receive a response within 14 days then you will pursue the matter through the County Court as a Civil Claim.
Whenever you buy goods, or agree to have a service you are making a contract with a trader. The trader must provide you with goods which are of satisfactory quality. This means reasonably durable, safe, fit for their intended purpose, free from minor defects and of reasonable appearance and finish. They must also be as described to you.
All services must be:
- provided with reasonable care and skill.
- provided within a reasonable time.
- provided for a reasonable price, if a price has not already been agreed. Remember when asking for a price for a job, if you are given a quotation, then that is the price you should pay; if you accept an estimate, the final price could be more, but should still be reasonable.
If you are dissatisfied with goods or services you should go back to the shop or get in touch with the trader as soon as possible. Explain your problem, identify the faults and tell the trader what you want to be done - set a deadline. If you do not get a satisfactory response to your request, write to the trader and detail the problems. If the shop is part of a chain, write to the Head Office address as well. Address these letters to the Customer Services Manager or the Chairman.
When you buy something which is faulty at the time of sale, you are entitled to a repair or replacement. The trader is entitled to refuse either of these where it can be shown that the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison with the alternative. Whatever remedy is agreed, it should not result in undue inconvenience to you the customer.
If a repair or replacement is not practical, you have the option to request a full or partial refund, depending on what is reasonable.
Normally, it is your responsibility, as the buyer, to prove that the goods were faulty at the time of sale. However, in the first six months from the date of purchase, when you return goods to request a repair or replacement, (or following that, a refund) you do not have to prove that the goods were faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the goods were faulty unless the trader can prove otherwise. If you opt for a refund rather than a repair or replacement, the onus will remain on you to prove that the goods were faulty at the time of sale.
You can make a claim up to six years from the date of sale. This does not mean that the goods should last for six years, but is just the absolute limit for making a claim.
If you are unable to resolve the situation with the trader, it may be necessary to go to court to resolve it. If you intend to pursue the matter through the Courts, you may have to pay an independent expert to examine the goods or service and compile a report. The cost of this may be awarded to you by the Court.
The maximum claim that can be heard by the Small Claims Court is £10,000. GOV.UK provides further information on the process of a court claim. You are entitled to extra legal rights when buying goods online and over the telephone.
Information leaflets and sample letters which will provide you with more information are available for you to download from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Citizens Advice consumer service.
Frequently asked questions
No, your rights are the same as if you had bought from a shop.
Yes, your rights are the same. However, remember that if goods are marked as 'seconds' or 'shop soiled' you can't expect them to be perfect.
If you've buy something and there is nothing wrong with it but you change your mind for whatever reason, you are not entitled to a refund. However, it is worth asking the shop whether they are willing to refund or exchange.
The goods must meet any description given, but they needn't be of satisfactory quality.
Trading Standards can advise you on your rights. They may be able to contact the shop for you. As a last resort you can take action using the Small Claims Procedure in the County Court.
If you are taking something back to the shop, you need proof of purchase. Normally, this is a receipt, but a credit card statement or bank statement might suffice.
You can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or send them an electronic message via their website -http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england.htm. Their website also provides details of local Citizens Advice Bureaux where you can go for face-to-face advice and assistance
Providing the shop has made it clear to consumers that items have passed their Best Before Date, it is fine to sell them; so long as they are still fit for consumption. However, it is not permitted to sell or have items on display that have passed their Use By Date.
By law, we can only implement a No Cold Calling Zone where crime statistics show there to be a need. This is regularly reviewed to ascertain whether No Cold Calling Zones need to be moved or new zones allocated.
The Financial Ombudsman deals with complaints about banks, insurers and finance companies. You can contact them via their website - http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk