What to do if goods are faulty

WHEN you buy an item from a trader, whether in a shop or online, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 says the item must be of satisfactory quality, free of any defects and as described, meaning it should match any description given and be reasonably durable.

If an item fails to satisfy any of these requirements, or it breaks under reasonable use, the appropriate remedy will depend on how long you have had the item. You will usually have the right to a refund, a replacement or a repair even if you have bought the item in a sale.

However the longer the period of time which you have had the item, the more limited the remedy so it is important to act quickly.

If you have had the item for a “reasonable time”, such as two weeks, you can request a refund. If you have had the item for a number of months, all you will be entitled to is a repair or a replacement if the item is not repairable.

The shop where you bought the item is entitled to offer a repair but this repair should be done within a reasonable time and should not be charged for. If the repair is not up to scratch and the item breaks again or cannot be repaired, you are entitled to insist on a replacement.

One thing you are not entitled to, however, is to request an upgraded or more expensive item than the one you originally purchased, or one that is brand new if you have had the item for a long time due to the inconvenience of having the return the item.

This is known as betterment, and all you would be legally entitled to is a replacement of a similar age and specification, which could be a reconditioned model.

But be aware that these rights only cover manufacturing defects. If the item has broken due to fair wear and tear, or an accidental breakage, you have no rights against the retailer. Consumers may also have additional rights if the item is covered by a warranty or special insurance, but you will have to discuss this with the retailer and get written information regarding any additional rights.

If, when buying an item, the trader makes a fault known to you and you still buy it, you cannot return it for that fault at a later date. You would only have rights if another unassociated fault develops.

To be able to return a faulty item, it is very important that you keep some proof of your purchase. This can be in the form of a shop receipt, a bank statement showing the purchase, or a confirmation email from the retailer if you order the item online.