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Am I Entitled to a Refund?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 27 Jul 2013 |
 
Money Refund Sale Purchase Consumer

Unhappy With Your Purchase?

When we pay money for something we are generally in a positive state of mind about the purchase: that what we’re buying is worth the money, that it’ll work, that it’s what we expect and that we’ll be happy with it. This is reflected in the law under the Sale of Goods Act which states that when a consumer (a private individual) buys from a business (not a private individual) they are entitled to expect a number of things: that the goods will be as described, fit for their purpose and of satisfactory quality.

These rules change slightly if you are buying something for business use. If a defect is very minor, or for example the description varies only slightly to what you receive expected you cannot simply reject the goods. However, if this is the case when you are buying something for business use then you can still claim compensation.

The basic rule as to whether or not you are entitled to a refund for goods depends on whether or not you have ‘accepted’ the goods. So at what point does this happen? This isn’t necessarily at the point of sale. It will depend on how you purchased the goods, whether over the Internet, in a catalogue, in a shop, at an auction or other method.

How Do I Accept Goods?

If you initially complained but then use the goods this could be ‘accepting’ them, and you could also accept them if you keep the goods for a certain length of time, or alter them in some way.

Signing for a delivery doesn’t mean that you’ve accepted the goods, because you need to have had enough time to examine them so that you’re satisfied. If you reject the goods and don’t accept them, you are entitled to a refund. If the goods have actually caused harm or damage, you might be entitled to claim compensation for loss that was caused by the goods, including for example the cost of replacing the faulty goods, or if the goods caused an injury.

Repairs, Replacements And Refunds

What if you buy something that only breaks after you’ve used it for a while? If it’s less than six months since the purchase, take it back or make the seller aware of the problem. The seller should offer a refund or a replacement unless they can prove that there wasn’t a defect at the time you bought it. It also depends on the reason why you want a refund. If you go back to a shop and say that you’ve changed your mind about something you bought from them and that you no longer want it, the shop doesn’t have to do anything.

Often shops will have something like “refund offered within 30 days of your purchase.” If you go back to the shop after their 30 day policy had expired, you wouldn’t automatically be entitled to a refund. Shops and businesses normally want satisfied customers, but they also want to maintain their profits.

European Law also offers some remedies for defective goods. If consumers enter into contracts for the sale or supply of goods and discover a defect within six months, the assumption is that the fault was there at the time of purchase unless the trader proves otherwise.

If more than six months have passed, the consumer has to prove the defect was there when they bought it. The remedies offered under these circumstances are a repair or replacement, a reduction in price which takes the defect into account, or the return of the goods in exchange for a part or full refund (and compensation if applicable.)

A repair or a replacement has to be effected with minimum inconvenience to the consumer, so the trader should pay all associated costs such as post, labour etc. Also, a repair or replacement has to be proportionate. For example, if a repair is going to cost more than a replacement, the trader is doing nothing wrong by offering a replacement. You can only ask for a refund or part refund where the cost of repair or replacement is disproportionate or where repair/replacement is not provided within a reasonable time.

Whether or not you are entitled to a refund depends on numerous factors. However, if you are dissatisfied there is nothing to be lost by making your feelings known. Be firm in your insistence that you are unhappy, and give reasons. Remember that you’re not automatically entitled to a refund because you have changed your mind about a purchase.

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Hello, we bought a second hand laptop for £240 from a local computer shop. we had the laptop for 9 days and then it broke and aparently had a power surge. There was a 30 day warrenty on the laptop and because it broke with that 30 day warrenty we were entitled to free repair. But because we want a more reliable laptop we would like a refund and are wondering wheather we are entitled to it? Thank you.
sputnick - 27-Jul-13 @ 1:44 PM
i booked a party for my sons 18th.we paid a deposit of £100. then paid the rest a few weeks later.. the manager phoned later on the day the party wasgoing ahead and said it would be cancelled because of something was put on facebook and e-mailed.. he said the police were involved but we have heard nothing from them... the party didnt go ahead because no 17 year olds were allowed in. but he said they could be allowed in when the deposit was paid.. i have contacted the manager in person and he said we couldnt have our money back as we cancelled, but we didnt cancel the party.. he said he would have to have a meeting with his bosses, which i said i would go to, and he said no.. he looked dodgy when i spoke to him. ihave receipts for deposit and other money paid
tracy - 25-Sep-12 @ 7:56 PM
I had an ipod purchased for me as a present, and in my excitement i opened it, before realising it was only 8GB storage, whereas I really wanted 32GB+. I took the ipod back to the shop where it was purchased (with receipt), to find the shop refuse my request for a swap where i'd pay the difference, as it had been opened, and they would be unable to sell as "new". are they entitled to do so? would this come under "customer has changed their mind", and because it's been opened its considered "accepted"?
iPod user - 21-Sep-12 @ 1:37 PM
Ive purchased a air water globe on ebay and 32 days after it blew I plugged it in and it went bang.the seller says its me who has to pay to return it and im only allowed a replacement no refund is this right please thanks
molly - 16-Aug-12 @ 4:31 PM
The six month period is important, agreed, and so is the period of acceptance of goods, which is generally considered to be a week, during which time you can show buyer's remorse and return the item with no questions asked. If something does break or fail within sex months then yes, it's perfectly reasonable to assume the defect is in the manufacturing, as any well-made item wouldn't develop a fault in such a short period.
Roger - 7-Jun-12 @ 2:54 PM
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