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Your legal rights as a consumer

Buying goods

When you buy goods from a retailer or trader, you have consumer rights as to the quality of the product, its fitness for the purpose in which it was designed and that it matches its description. These rights are implied into your contract with them by virtue of The Sale Of Goods Act 1979 as amended.

  • Satisfactory quality means that the standard of quality is that of which a reasonable person would expect, taking into account the price of the good and its description. It must be free from minor defects, have good appearance and finish, be durable as well as safe.
  • Fitness for purpose means that it should be fit for the specified purpose and any purpose agreed between you and the trader at the time you purchased the product.
  • As described means that the product must match its description, whether this be verbally by a sales assistant, written description on the packaging or in a brochure.

If you feel that your consumer rights have been breached, you may be entitled to ask for a repair or replacement at no additional cost.

If a repair or replacement is not possible, or is too costly, then you may be able to seek a partial refund if you have had some benefit from the good, or reject the goods and seek a full refund if the fault/s have meant you have enjoyed no benefit.

In other cases, as well as a full refund, you may be able to claim damages to compensate you for any additional losses incurred and this would be as a last resort, a small claims court action.

Services supplied to you

If you hire a trader to carry out a service (e.g. a builder, mechanic, electrician or plumber) you have rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This is the case even if you have nothing in writing, or the contract you signed does not specifically mention them.

These rights are that the service must be carried out:

  • With reasonable care and skill. Of course what is reasonable to one person may not be for the next, that is why there are so many disputes in this area. The expertise of the tradesman will be taken into account, the nature of the job and any other circumstances which may affect the service.
  • Within a reasonable period of time. If you have not agreed a date on which the work is to be completed, then the assumption is that the work will be carried out within a reasonable time. There is no definition of reasonable, as this depends upon the facts of your circumstances. Once a ‘reasonable time’ has elapsed you would not be entitled to terminate the contract, but you would be able to give reasonable notice – by providing a deadline at some point in the future and thereby making time ‘of the essence’. If the builder/plumber/electrician then fails to meet that deadline, you would be entitled to terminate the contract.
  • That it be a reasonable cost. If you have not agreed a price for the work, then the assumption is that you will be charged a reasonable price. There is no set legal definition of ‘reasonable’ as this is dependant upon the circumstances of your case.

Linder Myers Solicitors is experienced in dealing with consumer problems with goods and services. Please contact us for further information if you believe your rights as a consumer have not been met.

We can advise you on the best course of action after hearing the information relevant to your case.

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