If you buy something from a shop and you are not happy with it you have certain rights.
You have the right to get a full refund, repair or replacement if what you bought isn't:
- of a satisfactory quality – it should not be faulty or damaged
- fit for purpose – it should be able to do the task you bought it for
- as described – it must match the description given to you when you bought it
Within 30 days
You have a legal right to get a refund from a retailer, as long as you do it within 30 days.
The refund period can sometimes be longer than 30 days but this depends on the shop.
Your right to return goods lies with the retailer, not the manufacturer.
For example, if you buy a microwave and it breaks down a week later you can get a refund or replacement.
You can get this refund or replacement from the shop that sold the microwave to you. Not the company that made the microwave.
After 30 days
If the 30 day refund period has passed, you may still be able to get a refund if your item is faulty.
But before you can ask for a refund, you must give the shop a chance to either repair or replace your item.
You can choose whether to have your item repaired or replaced. But the shop can refuse your choice if the other option is cheaper.
If you find a fault with something within 6 months of buying it, it's assumed the fault was there when you bought it.
The shop must fix it, replace it or give you a full refund.
If you find the fault more than 6 months after you bought it, you have to prove it was faulty when you got it. Otherwise the shop doesn't have to give you a refund.
If the goods do not last a reasonable length of time (up to 5 years) you may be entitled to some money back.
Returning goods bought during a sale
You have the same right to get a return or refund if you bought something during a sale. But only if it's faulty.
If you ask for a refund on a sale item, your refund will be the price you paid for it.
This will be the case even if the sale has ended and it's returned to its original price.
You buy something for £20 during a sale but then its price goes back up to £50 when the sale ends.
If you want to return the item and get a refund, the most you can get is £20.
You can only return non-faulty goods bought in-store, for a refund or exchange, if the store has a returns policy.
Shops don't have to have a returns policy for purchases made in store. But if they do, they must stick to it. Your statutory rights (Consumer Rights Act 2015) still apply.
Shops often put restrictions on returning sale items, so check the returns policy before you buy. Most retailers put time limits for returning non-faulty goods, e.g. 28 days.
Ordered goods that arrive late
If you order something and have it delivered to your home, it usually has to be delivered not more than 30 days after you bought it. Unless you've been told it'll be delivered by a different date.
You could have the right to cancel get a full refund if the shop hasn't delivered:
- within 30 days
- on another date you've agreed to
But this is only if:
- the delivery is later than agreed and you needed it on time, or
- you did not need it on time but you can't agree on another reasonable delivery date
Retailers are responsible for goods until they reach you. If they use a delivery company and the delivery is late, the retailer can't use this as an excuse. They must arrange a refund.
Parcel delivery charges
Businesses have a responsibility to be fair in their delivery charges. You can get support and advice from Delivery Law UK if you:
- saw something was advertised as "free UK delivery", but cost money to be delivered to your location
- were charged more for delivery than advertised, even after the sale had been completed
- received very high and disproportionate delivery charges
- were refused delivery of your purchase because you live in a remote or rural area
Challenging terms and conditions
When you buy something you're entering into a contract with the shop you buy it from.
The shop can use whatever terms and conditions they want in this contract, but they have to be fair.
A contract term can be checked for fairness if it is not transparent (explained in language that's easy to understand), and prominent (brought to the customer's attention).
You have the right to challenge part of a contract if you don't think it's fair. This may include:
- extra fees and charges hidden in the small print
- something that tries to restrict your legal rights
- charging you a lot of money to cancel a contract
- a term that lets them change the product you ordered
- raising the price before your order is shipped out
If you think a contract term is unfair, complain to the trader you bought it from.
If they don't agree, get legal advice before breaking the terms of the contract. For example by cancelling a purchase after the required period.
As a last resort, you could take the trader to court and the court will decide whether a term is unfair.
If the court decides that a term is unfair, you may be able to ignore the term or even cancel your contract without having to pay a cancellation fee.
Buying digital products
The above rights are based on physical items you can buy from a shop or have delivered to your house.
Your rights are different when dealing with digital products, such as:
If you download something you do not have a legal right to get a refund. But you do have the right to make sure your download works.
If your digital content does not meet these criteria and develops a fault, you have the right to have it repaired or replaced
You can ask the retailer to repair or replace a download if it:
- doesn't play right
- is faulty in any other way
If it's not possible to repair or replace your download, you can get a price reduction of up to 100% of the cost.
A retailer has to give you compensation if a download cause damage to your:
Buying things from Europe
The UK Government has more information about consumer rights when buying things from Europe from 1 January 2021.
Getting more advice
You can find answers to common consumer rights questions on the Consumer Advice website. This includes coronavirus related questions. For example around:
- cancellations of concerts, events and entertainment
- deliveries and online orders
- planning for shortages or price increases
Scottish Government also funds a Consumer Helpline you can phone if you're having problems getting a:
Phone: 0808 164 6000
The consumer helpline can:
- give you advice on how to resolve your problem
- tell you more about the law which applies to your situation
- pass information about complaints to Trading Standards
But the helpline cannot:
- make a complaint for you
- take legal action on your behalf
Brexit help and advice
You can freephone 0808 800 9060 or go to brexitadvice.scot for advice and information on:
- consumer rights
- household energy
- Brexit-related scams
- food and household expenditures
- transport and travel (including travel insurance)
- postal services
- employment rights
The brexitadvice.scot website is managed by Advice Direct Scotland.
You can also contact Citizen's Advice Scotland.
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