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13 Problems with Goods and Services

Download Problems with goods and services (PDF File, 270kb)

1. Introduction

2. What is the difference between ´goods´ and ´services´?

3. Dealing with problems with goods (products)

4. What the law says a retailer must do about faulty goods

5. What if a product hurts someone or damages something?

6. What if I buy by phone or mail order, or over the internet?

7. What if something is wrong with the food I have bought?

8. What are my rights if I buy on credit ?

If you pay for something using credit (such as a credit agreement or credit card), the Consumer Credit Act 1974 gives you rights against the credit card company if

  • you don't receive something you've ordered (if you brought something over the phone or the internet, for example); or
  • the goods are faulty.

This law applies only for things costing between £100 and £30,000. However, you do not have to have paid the whole cost with credit. For example, you will be protected if you paid for a computer costing £500 by paying £50 on a credit card and the rest by cheque.

The card company, as well as the retailer, is responsible for the things you buy. It is equally responsible for sorting out any faulty product or one that doesn’t get delivered, so you can complain to the credit card company if the retailer won’t help you. This is especially useful if the retailer has gone out of business.

When you buy goods under certain types of credit, you can reject the goods at any time during the period of the credit agreement. The main types of agreement you have this right with are hire purchase and ‘conditional sale agreements’. Strictly speaking, your rights are against the credit company and not the retailer. However, if you have a problem, telling the retailer may be quicker and easier, because the retailer will normally be in a better position to deal with it than the credit company.

The same Act allows a five-day cooling-off period for a credit contract that you didn't sign at the retailer's or the credit provider's property (which normally means contracts signed in your home).

Remember that the Consumer Credit Act applies to credit cards, but not to charge cards or debit cards, such as Switch, Maestro or Delta.

What if I am sent goods I didn't order?

If you're sent goods you haven't asked for (called 'unsolicited goods'), you can keep them, sell them, or get rid of them however you want, as long as you have not already agreed to buy them or to send them back.

If the person who sent them says you must pay for them or threatens you with legal action, contact the trading standards department at your local council, or Consumer Direct (see ´Further help´).

This does not apply if you have ordered something, but have been sent the wrong item by mistake - then you must return it or pay for it.

9. Dealing with problems with services

10. What the law says a service provider must do

11. Ways to sort out your problem

12. Further help

13. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Sue Bloomfield, a freelance consumer affairs writer.

Leaflet Version: November 2007

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