Before you buy
Before you make a purchase it is worth knowing your consumer rights because sometimes things can go wrong! It is always best to avoid problems rather than running in to them head on and trying to fix them later.
The following information is a basic introduction to your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, for more detailed guidance please refer to Consumer Direct
or see a Student Adviser
What to watch out for
Most purchases are very safe and retailers are aware of their obligations under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (and subsequent amendments). Problems can sometimes arise when you buy online, from a doorstep seller or buy items from abroad. You should also watch out for the sale of counterfeit goods.
Online shopping can be fast and convenient and safe if your purchase is made from a reputable site. Always be aware that you are giving personal information over the internet; you could risk identity theft when using less reputable sites.
Consumer Direct states that many traders are honest and follow the Doorstep Selling Regulations but there are those who are dishonest and persuasive. It is in your interests to be aware of your rights if you plan to or have purchased items from doorstep sellers.
If you are thinking of buying something whilst you are overseas or via the internet it is worth considering the following:
will it work at home? This is especially pertinant for electronic goods
will it be covered by guarantee in the UK and how much will it cost to return/fix if it breaks?
are there additional costs such as VAT, customs duties, delivery charges, postage and packaging? HM Revenue and Customs can advise you on whether or not you will be subject to duty charges, always check before you buy.
Always be wary of bargains as it may be a counterfeit item. Sometimes you may be aware that you are purchasing a fake but you should consider the following advice from Consumer Direct:
The goods may be dangerous - from cosmetics that can cause skin rashes to fake car parts that may cause accidents.
A lot of fake goods fund drug dealers and other organised crime - even terrorism.
You may end up paying higher taxes because people who deal in fakes don't - consumers like you end up making up the difference.
You may be putting local people out of jobs because genuine manufacturers can't compete with the criminals making and selling fakes.
If you buy fake goods and they don't live up to your expectations, you won't get any after sales service or guarantees.
Fake goods deprive the copyright owner of money that can be used to fund new development.