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Frequently Asked Questions about Trading Standards

What are the first steps I should take when I've got a problem with goods or service?

Notify the trader you bought the goods from or the person you contracted with to provide the service. If the problem is not resolved immediately, it is advisable to put your complaint in writing. Send the letter by recorded delivery. We have a booklet to help you with this.

What are my rights if I simply change my mind about an item I've purchased in a shop and I decide that I don't want it?

You do not have an automatic right to a refund in these circumstances. However, many retailers will allow you to change your mind within a certain period, provided the goods are re-saleable. They will normally require proof of purchase e.g. the receipt.

Are there any circumstances where the law says I can change my mind?

Yes - in certain cases; where you have signed a contract away from business premises e.g. at home, you may have a cooling-off period during which you can change your mind. In the case of a credit agreement signed away from business premises, you usually have a five day period to cancel. In the case of a contract made at your home following an unsolicited visit from the trader you usually have seven days to cancel. However, if a trader provides a service during the cooling-off period, you may have to pay for the work carried out.

Can retailers insist I deal with the manufacturer when a problem arises?

No. But it can be quicker and easier to get a problem rectified by the manufacturer under the guarantee. Retailers will often want to seek the manufacturer's opinion on why a problem has arisen and we would normally advise you to allow them to do this.

If I don't receive a written guarantee, what are my rights and how long do these rights last?

You have statutory rights under Sale of Goods legislation. This says that goods you buy must be of satisfactory quality. The term "satisfactory quality" covers issues such as appearance and finish, durability and the goods being free from defects. The length of time goods must last is not defined in the legislation and will vary from product to product e.g. you would normally expect an electrical appliance to last longer than fresh food.

Do I have any rights when I buy second hand goods?

Yes. The legislation applies to second hand goods but you should bear in mind that you would not normally expect second hand goods to be in perfect condition or to last as long as new ones.

Do I have any rights if I buy from a private seller e.g. a car or other goods from a small advert in the local paper?

You have fewer rights than if you buy from a trader. It is very much a case of Buyer Beware. The goods only have to be as described. The goods do not have to be free of faults or fit for their purpose.

Can traders display "No Refunds" notices and rely on these to refuse a refund for faulty goods?

It is a criminal offence for traders to display such notices and they cannot take away your rights by displaying these notices.

Does buying on credit give me an extra protection?

Yes. Where the goods or services cost more than £100, the credit card company or finance company is equally liable for any claim you would have against the supplier in respect of defective goods or services. Please note that these rights do not apply when you use a debit card.

Do I have to obtain an expert's opinion on the problem?

You may have to obtain an expert's opinion if the matter proceeds to Court. However, it is not usually advisable to pay for an expert's opinion at an early stage. If a fault arises with the goods within 6 months of you taking delivery, the seller usually has to prove that they are not faulty. You are advised to seek advice from us before instructing an expert.

Do you deal with problems with financial services and insurance?

These are usually dealt with by the Financial Ombudsman Service who can be contacted on 0845 080 1800.