Consumer Rights

What are my rights as a consumer?

Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, anything you buy from a retailer must be:

  • of merchantable quality
  • fit for its normal purpose, and reasonably durable
  • as described, whether the description is part of the advertising or wrapping, on a label, or something said by the salesperson.

When you buy goods from a retailer, you make a contract with him. He agrees to provide certain goods to you for a certain price. If your purchase turns out to be faulty, the retailer, not the manufacturer, is responsible to you and must sort out your complaint. You are entitled to a refund, a replacement or a repair.

If your complaint is covered by the Sale of Goods Act, you do not have to take a credit note. You can insist on a refund, a replacement or a repair. Shop notices such as ‘No Refunds’ or ‘No Exchanges’ cannot take away any of your statutory rights under the Sale of Goods Act.

If the faults should have been seen on examination or were pointed out at the time of purchase, you have no rights under the Sale of Goods Act. Nor are you protected if you simply change your mind about wanting the goods. You also have no rights if faults are due to misuse of the product after purchase.

Second Hand Goods:

These must also be of merchantable quality but the standards are lower. If you buy something through a private sale, your rights are greatly diminished. Goods do not have to be of merchantable quality, they merely have to be owned by the seller and fit their description. It is up to you to check out the goods before buying.


Services are also covered by the Act. There is a contract between the supplier of a service and the consumer who pays for the service. You are entitled to expect that the supplier:

  • has the necessary skill to provide the service
  • provides the service with proper care and diligence
  • uses sound materials and supplies goods of merchantable quality.

If the service you receive is unsatisfactory in any of these ways, you may be entitled to a remedy or compensation to make up for the difference in value between the service that should have been provided and what was actually provided.

Consumer rights do not always apply in relation to unsatisfactory services. The supplier of the service may limit his responsibility in some way, for example, through an exclusion clause. However, a clause of this kind is only valid if it is specifically brought to the consumer’s attention and only if it is fair and reasonable.

Purchasing Online:

As is the case with other shops, if something goes wrong, you should first complain to whoever sold you the product, and with whom you have a legal contract.

A “cooling off” period applies in the case of online purchases. This is a period you have as an online consumer in which to make up your mind if you want the goods or not.

By law, you have seven working days from the date of receipt of the goods in which you can cancel the contract. You do not have to have a reason to cancel – a simple change of mind is enough.

For more information on your rights and obligations as a consumer and for guidance on related matters, feel free to contact McInerney Solicitors for friendly expert advice.