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Home: Consumer Law :

Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended by The Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002)

Under the Act you are entitled to expect that any goods you buy from a trader are:

  • of satisfactory quality,
  • fit for any particular purpose made known to the seller; and
  • as described.

Satisfactory quality means that the goods should meet the standard a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory taking into account the description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all other relevant circumstances. The quality of the goods includes their state and condition including their appearance and finish, freedom from minor defects, safety and durability. They should also be fit for all purposes for which goods of that kind are commonly supplied. Your rights under this Act are against the person who sold you the goods and not the manufacturer.

You have no real grounds for a complaint if you:

  • were told about the fault before you purchased the item;
  • examined the item when you bought it and should have seen the fault;
  • made a mistake when purchasing the item;
  • simply changed your mind about the item.


If you’ve bought something not of satisfactory quality, not fit for a particular purpose or not as described, the law gives you a number of remedies.

If you complain to the retailer within a reasonable time, you’re entitled to get a full refund. However, the law does not say what a reasonable time is. Each case may be different. So the sooner you make your complaint, the better.

Once you go beyond a reasonable time to reject the goods, you’re only entitled to claim compensation. You can also claim for any consequential losses that result directly from the goods being unsatisfactory.

These remedies are in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended).

Up until 31 March 2003, these were the only remedies available. Since that date, you can now also ask, in the first instance, for a repair or replacement.

Such repair or replacement has to be carried out within a reasonable time and without any great inconvenience to you. The retailer has to bear any costs, such as transporting the goods.

However, the retailer can refuse either of these remedies, if it can be shown that the other one would be less costly.

If a quick and trouble-free repair or replacement is not possible, you can ask for a full or part-refund. Whatever benefit you may have already had from the goods will be taken into account in deciding any refund.

These additional remedies were brought in by The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.


Where goods are offered with a consumer guarantee, the consumer can request that the guarantee be made available in writing and that the terms of the guarantee should be set out in plain language which can be easily understood. This should be in English if offered in the United Kingdom and should give details of how to make a claim under the guarantee. A contract will also be made between you and the guarantor. This means that if the guarantor refuses to honour the guarantee you may be able to take legal action.

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