Your rights in relation to the right to return goods
How do I return goods
If you buy goods from a trader and they are not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or don't match their description, the trader will probably have to put things right. It is the trader who is responsible for this, and not the manufacturer. If a trader tells you the manufacturer is responsible, or that you have to make a claim on a manufacturers' guarantee, you do not have to accept this.
Depending on the circumstances, you may have one or more of the following rights:
- to get all of your money back
- to get some of your money back
- to get the goods repaired
- to get the goods replaced
- to get compensation.
You will not have these rights if:
- there is nothing wrong with the goods – you have just changed your mind about wanting them
- you examined the goods, or a sample of the goods, when you were buying them, and the fault you want to complain about was so obvious that you should have noticed it
- the trader pointed out the defect that you now want to complain about
- you have damaged the goods yourself
- the problem is the result of normal wear and tear
- the goods have lasted for as long as could reasonably be expected.
In some situations, you only have limited rights when things go wrong with your goods. These include where you have bought them:
- from a private individual - see under heading Buying goods from a private seller
- at some auctions - see under heading Auctions
- in the course of carrying out a business - see under heading Business to business sales
- where goods have been given to you - see under heading The goods were a gift.
Getting a full refund
If things go wrong with goods you have bought, you have the right to return them and get all your money back (a full refund).
However, this right only lasts for a very short time after you buy the goods. You are allowed a short time to examine the goods and try them out, but you must tell the trader about the fault as soon as you discover it. It will be up to you to prove that there is something wrong with the goods if the trader doesn't accept this.
You will not be able to get a full refund if you have:
- continued to use the goods after you realized something was wrong
- tried to repair the goods in any way
- kept the goods for too long without telling the trader there is something wrong with them, or noticing the fault.
If you aren't entitled to a full refund for one of these reasons, you may be entitled to get some of your money back, or to a repair or replacement instead – see below.
If you think you are entitled to a full refund but the trader offers you one of these alternatives instead, you may want to think about accepting it, but you don't have to.
If there is something wrong with your goods and you aren't entitled to, or don't want to get a full refund, you can ask the trader to either repair or replace them for free instead. You might not be able to get a full refund if, perhaps, you had the goods for too long before realising there was a problem, or before the problem became obvious.
If you take the goods back within six months of buying them, the trader must accept that they were faulty at the time of sale and offer to repair or replace them. If the trader doesn't accept that the goods were faulty, they will have to prove this.
If you have had your goods for more than six months when they go wrong, you can still ask the trader to repair or replace them, but you may have to prove that they were faulty when you bought them if the trader doesn't agree. You can ask for a repair or replacement at any time up to six years after you bought the goods (five years in Scotland), as long as it is reasonable for them to have lasted this long. If the goods go wrong after six years (or five in Scotland), you no longer have the right to ask for a repair or replacement.
If the trader agrees to carry out a repair or provide a replacement, they must do this within a reasonable period of time, and without causing you any significant inconvenience. If you ask the trader for a repair but this turns out to be impractical or to be too expensive, the trader doesn't have to repair your goods, but you can choose to have a replacement instead. In the same way, if you have asked the trader to replace your goods and this turns out to be impractical or too expensive, the trader doesn't have to replace them, but you can choose to have a repair instead.
If neither repair or replacement is practical, you can ask to get some or all of your money back. You can also ask to get some or all of your money back if:
- replacing or repairing the goods would cost more than giving you some or all of your money back
- the trader did not replace or repair the goods within a reasonable period of time
- the trader was not able to repair or replace the goods without causing you significant inconvenience.
How much money you can get back will depend on how much use you have had out of the goods. You will probably only be able to get some of your money back if:
- the goods had worked for some time before they went wrong
- they still work but their appearance has got worse
- only one of their functions has failed.
However, if you have been able to get no, or little use out of the goods, and/or repairs have been unsuccessful, then you will probably be able to give back the goods and get all of your money back.
When you complain about goods, the trader may offer you a credit note. A credit note allows you to return the goods and buy something else for the same value.
If you have the right to a refund, repair, replacement or compensation (see under heading Your rights when things go wrong) you don't have to accept a credit note instead, although you may choose to do so. You may also choose to accept a credit note where you don't have any of these rights.
If you accept a credit note, you cannot change your mind later and get a refund or compensation, even if you had been entitled to it.
A credit note does not have to take any particular form. It may be offered as a gift voucher and it can also have conditions attached to it. You may have to use it within a given time limit.
If you are thinking of accepting a credit note, check the conditions on it and make sure that the trader has goods that you want to buy.
You cannot insist on having a credit note if the trader doesn't want to give you one.