Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development

Frequently asked questions about the Consumer Guarantees Act 2002

Q: I have bought something from a shop/door to door salesman which does not work. What can I do?

A: The law says that If goods are sold they must be of satisfactory quality and not be faculty.   Unless the fault was brought to your attention at the time you bought the goods, you are entitled to your money back, or if you prefer, to an exchange or replacement of the same value, providing you take the goods back straight away.

Q: I have bought something which does not do what it says on the packet or is not suitable for what I bought if for.   What can I do?

A: If the goods are not as described, not fit for their normal purpose or not fit for any particular purpose which you specified to the seller, you may be entitled to your money back.

Q: The seller agrees that goods I have bought are faulty but says I must get the manufacturer to refund me or agree to an exchange. Is this right?

A: No.   Your legal rights are with the seller of the goods who must refund what you paid for them or offer an exchange.

Q: Are there any times when I will not be entitled to my money back or to exchange the goods?

A: Yes they are as follows:

    • If you have held onto the goods for too long before returning them, you may be taken to have accepted them; or
    • If you were told about the fault before you bought the goods; or
    • If you did the damage yourself either by ignoring advice about using the goods or through lack of care; or
    • If there is nothing wrong with the goods and you have just changed your mind and decided you do not like them.   (Some shops may agree to accept the return of the goods as a gesture of goodwill).

Q: If I signed an “acceptance note” when I received the goods this mean I lose my rights if something goes wrong?

A: No. You are entitled to a reasonable time to check the goods for faults and as long as you return them as soon as you can you should be entitled to the return of your money or an exchange.

Q: If the goods were bought for me by someone else am I entitled to return them?

A: No. The goods should be returned by the person who bought them as there is a legal contract between that person and the seller.

Q: If I return goods do I have to accept a “credit note”?

A: No. You can insist on the full repayment of your money providing the goods are faulty or not as described.   If you accept a credit note you may not be able to exchange it for cash later if you cannot find anything else in the shop that you like. However, if you have merely changed your mind about an item, the seller might offer you a credit note as a goodwill gesture in which case you may wish to accept it.   However, some credit notes last for a limited period so check this before you accept it.

Q: Do I have to accept replacement goods or a free repair instead of cash?

A: No. You are entitled to the return of your money if the goods are faulty, not as described, or not fit for their purpose and returning them within a reasonable length of time.   The law is exactly the same for goods purchased in a sale.

Q: Do I need to have a receipt before I can get a refund?

A: No. You are still entitled to a refund as long you can prove you bought the goods from that particular seller.

Q: What if the goods are too heavy to carry back to the shop?   Am I responsible for the cost of taking the goods back?

A: No. You can ask the seller to some and collect the goods as long as you have not held onto them for too long, and as long-as you bought the goods yourself.

Q: If I cancel an order am I entitled to a return of any deposit paid by me?

A: Probably not.   Most deposits are not returnable.   If you cancel an order, the seller is usually entitled to keep your deposit as compensation for your breach of the agreement.

Q: Does a warranty or guarantee give me any special rights?

A: Yes. But read the guarantee or warranty carefully to check what it covers.   If a guarantee comes with a registration card you may have to fill this out and send it off before the guarantee covers you.   The guarantee should tell you how to make a claim.  Guarantees do not affect your normal rights for a refund or repair.

Q: What about services?   What can I do if I haven’t received the service I paid for?

A: You are entitled to certain standards of service.   The service should be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time, and for a reasonable price providing the cost was not agreed beforehand.   The person or organization may be a member or a trade association or other professional body, be regulated by an official watchdog, or by an Ombudsman.   You may complain to them or sue the trader for compensation.

Q: If I have a genuine complaint and it does not get taken seriously, can I sue?

A: Yes. If the goods or services provided do not meet proper standards or requirements you can sue for breach of contract and claim for the return of the price you have paid or compensation for any other losses you have suffered as a result.   Also if you have been injured because the goods were defective you can claim compensation for your injuries.

Q: I saw goods marked at a price in a shop but when I took them to the till to pay the shop refused to sell them to me.   Can they do this?

A: Yes. A shop is not bound to serve you with anything, or at any price on display.   They are making an invitation to treat, and the invitation can be withdrawn at any time.   However, price indications should not be misleading.   If they are, it could be an offence under Criminal legislation and should be reported to your local trading Standards Office.

Q: I bought goods in a shop, but later discovered that if I had bought them from another shop just up the road, I could have bought them for less that I originally paid.   Can I take them back for a refund so that I can buy them at the lower price?

A: No.   Goods have be faulty or not fit for their purpose to qualify for a refund.   If you agreed to buy goods at an indicated price, you’ll be stuck with them even if you later discovered you could have bought them cheaper elsewhere.