The Sale of Goods Act


The Sale of Goods Act came into being back in 1979. It was introduced to help high street consumers when they have a problem with goods they have bought. It is handy to know just what your rights are when it comes to buying goods plus what you can do legally to put things right if you need to.

Statutory Rights

There are three statutory rights that come under the Sale of Goods Act

  1. Protection from fraud, the seller should have the right to sell
  2. A satisfactory level of quality
  3. The goods must be described accurately meaning you indeed get what was described

Knowing whether something you have bought is covered by the Sale of Goods Act is another matter entirely. There are so many ways that consumers can buy goods now such as on the internet, Auction sites such as E-Bay, Mail Order or second hand from retailers and private sales.

Buying Online/Auction Sites /Mail Order new measures now ensure that consumers are covered for all three ways of purchasing goods in the same way that buying your goods in a shop or store would be. The only difference is that as you have not bought the goods in person, so have not seen them before buying, they are subject to the Distance Selling Regulations.

Distance Selling Regulations anything you buy on the internet, by phone or email is covered by these regulations. It is up to the supplier to provide information to the buyer regarding their obligations plus your rights under this regulation. All extra costs should also be made clear such as package and posting. You do have a right to cancel goods under these regulations but you must ensure that all detail has been outlined by the seller in order to do so.

You have a seven day cooling off period meaning that if you change your mind within that time you can cancel the order and get your money back. You are obliged to let the seller know in writing of your intention to cancel your order. You qualify for a refund that should be given within thirty days by the seller.

Are there any Exclusions?

  1. Goods that you have had personalised such as a name badge on a tee shirt
  2. Software purchases where the seal has been opened
  3. Goods such as flowers or food that can perish
  4. Reading stuff such as newspapers/books/magazines
  5. Lottery tickets or betting slips

I’ve had the Goods for a While what are My Rights then?

If you have accepted the goods giving no indication that you were not happy and have been using them for a certain length of time you may not be entitled to cancel the contract. You can however probably claim compensation for damages. If your goods go faulty within the first six months then it is assumed that they were faulty when you received them so entitling you to repairs or replacement of goods. Once the six month period has elapsed it will be up to the buyer to prove that they have not caused the fault through misuse.

Seeking a Refund for Faulty/Damaged Goods

Your Rights come under the Statutory Rights Act whereby you can expect goods to be of a reasonable standard and quality when you buy them. The goods should be in good condition, fit for their specific purpose, safe to use and as described. If one or all of these conditions is not applicable then you are within your rights to take the goods back. This also applies when you have had the goods for some time.

Will I Need Proof  of Purchase or a Receipt?

You do require some sort of receipt as proof but this can take the form of a credit card statement if you paid on the card or a bank statement if you paid by debit card. Exemptions where you lose your rights are

  1. If it was a private purchase
  2. If you knew of the fault or damage before you bought it
  3. If you had thoroughly looked the goods over and not spotted something you should have otherwise noticed
  4. If you change your mind due to colour or it not suiting your home size wise
  5. If the blemish can be easily wiped off naturally this doesn’t count as damaged goods
  6. They must put a fault right even if it is within six months of purchase as long as the fault is not simply a wear and tear matter
  7. Firstly the seller must offer to repair the item
  8. They must issue a replacement if this will cause you inconvenience
  9. If the item is going for repair this must take a reasonable time
  10. They should offer a replacement if repairs will take a long time so don’t be put on the back burner for too long

Regulations the Retailer must follow

If you are in any doubt about your rights or you have trouble taking goods back you are advised to seek professional advice. The local Citizens Advice Bureau will advise you and is a good starting off point in this case.