Consumer law at a glance

Problems with goods

You may be entitled to redress (refund, repair or replacement) if the goods you have purchased are:

  • not of satisfactory quality
  • not as described
  • not fit for their purpose or
  • do not match a model or sample. 

But keep in mind - the age of the product and reasonable wear and tear.

You also have additional rights when buying online.

When do you not have any rights?

  • If you had the opportunity to examine the goods and you failed to notice the fault.
  • If you were told about the fault.
  • If you simply changed your mind.
  • If you damage the product yourself.

Stores often have a returns policy. If the goods are not faulty and you have changed your mind, the store may allow you to exchange the item or give a refund. Always check the policy of each shop as it varies. Buying in a sale does not affect your statutory rights. You have fewer rights when you buy from a private seller e.g. a car bought privately. You will not be able to take action if something goes wrong unless the seller described the condition and value of the car.

Problems with services

You may be entitled to redress if the services you have contracted for are not carried out with:

  • reasonable care and skill or
  • within a reasonable time or
  • for a reasonable charge if one has not been quoted

Also keep in mind  - use a tradesperson with the relevent qualifications for the service which is being contracted for. Please see Buy with Confidence for information on finding approved traders in your area.

If you are in a dispute

If the business is unwilling to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, your first step should always be to formalise your complaint by putting it into writing, giving them a resonable time to respond.  If you don't receive a satisfactory response, you may want to esculate your complaint to the managing director or proprietor of the business and follow the businesses complaints procedure. If the matter is still unresolved you may wish to enforce your rights through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or through the court.


If you think you have been a victim of fraud contact Action Fraud.

This could be for the following known scams:

  • foreign lottery
  • phishing emails
  • business directory scams
  • pyramid sales

The list above is just some examples of fraud.