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For many of us, shopping on the high street is the main way we buy new items. But not all of us know or understand our consumer rights.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 lays out what you can expect when you buy goods or services from the shops or online.

Faulty goods

When you buy goods, they should:

  • be as described
  • be fit for purpose
  • be of satisfactory quality
  • last a reasonable amount of time.

For example, if you buy a dress that’s labelled silk and it turns out to be cotton, it’s not as described. Or if you buy a television and the picture is fuzzy, it’s not of satisfactory quality.

If your items aren't as described, fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality, or if they don't last a reasonable amount of time, then they are faulty goods, and you could get a refund. 

Getting a refund, repair or a replacement on faulty goods

Up to 30 days after purchase If the item is faulty, you should get an immediate refund.
Up to 6 months If it can’t be repaired or replaced, you should get a refund.
Up to 6 years If the goods don’t last a reasonable amount of time, you may be able to get some or all of the money back but the burden of proof will lie with you to show that the goods should have lasted longer.

The law is slightly different when you have ordered items from home, for example, from a catalogue or online. See our page Get the most out of shopping online for more information.

What if I have changed my mind?

If you buy something that you later change your mind about, the shop doesn’t have to give you a refund, although many will. Always check the returns policy of the shop before you buy to make sure that you can get a refund if you get home and realise the goods just aren’t for you.

Sale items

If you buy an item in the sale, you have the same rights as when buying a non-sale item. You should be able to return it if it's faulty, unless it was reduced because of a fault that was pointed out at the time you bought it. You may not have any extra rights though, so shops might not let you return it for a refund if you have simply changed your mind.

Proof of purchase

If you’re returning an item, find proof of purchase – preferably the receipt, but if you have lost it then you need to ask the shop if they will accept a bank or credit card statement as proof.

Not happy?

If you’re not happy with what the shop offers, then make a complaint in writing to them. If you’re still not happy, you could make a complaint through Resolver or contact the Consumer Ombudsman.

Find out more about your consumer rights from the Citizens Advice consumer service.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081

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