What Are My Rights As A Shopper Against A Commercial Business?

Statutory rights

Given the amount of time that most of the people in this country spend shopping in one form or another, it's a curious thing that so many people aren't aware of their legal rights when it comes to what they've bought. Granted, generally people will know whether there's a guarantee attached to a particular product when they buy it and they've probably also heard of their so-called 'statutory right' (in the sense that they're often told that nothing in what they're reading affects these rights). But beyond that they may struggle to name the particular statutes which might assist. What this article seeks to do is to highlight a few of the most important of those rights when it comes to shopping.

An explanation of the Sale of Goods Act 1979

In this context, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 is one of the most important statutes and implies a number of standard terms. The basic one is section 12 that implies that the seller has the right to sell the goods in the first place. Then section 13 provides that goods sold by description must correspond to that description and section 15 says that goods sold by sample must correspond to the sample in quality. But of all the rights in this particular Act perhaps the most significant is that which comes from section 14 which provides that (subject to a few limitations) where goods are supplied in the course of a business there is an implied term that those goods are of 'satisfactory quality'.

What are my rights if I purchased goods of poor quality?

As to what constitutes satisfactory quality, section 14(2A) defines it as goods which meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all other relevant circumstances. So ultimately if it went to court it would be for a judge to determine taking account of all the relevant circumstances. What this means is that if the goods were sold as new and not faulty but it turns out that there was in fact a fault then they'd probably fail the test. It will also depend upon all the circumstances as to how long a good would be expected to last and if it breaks down early then this is at least one of the sections that would assist.

What are my rights if I bought goods online?

If you bought the goods online, then you get the further protection of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. In particular, these Regulations give the buyer seven days to cancel the order. Though it should be remembered that there are some exceptions to this general right to cancel in the case of certain goods which include such things as perishable goods, magazines and personalised goods along with, for example, CDs, DVDs and software if the wrapping has been broken.

What can I do if I have bought a faulty product?

If you have a problem with something you've bought then usually the first step is to approach the seller and look at either getting a refund or a replacement. But if this fails or you've suffered loss and want to seek damages then it might be something for which you need to seek legal advice and ultimately consider issuing a claim. But remember the various rights which the law grants are usually there to regulate what goes on well away from the courts and it's only the exceptional cases which ever need to go that far.

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