Not sure what to do if something goes wrong with a purchase? Start the New Year in the know about your consumer rights, writes James McCluskey, of our Trading Standards team.

Consumer Rights Act

Goods should be of satisfactory quality, free from defects and as described. Fair wear and tear, misuse, or a change of mind aren’t covered, nor are faults that you were told about before you bought the item. Your rights apply to second hand or sale items, but the age of the product should be taken into account if you are buying pre-owned goods.

Services should be carried out with reasonable care and skill, and any goods used in the course of the service should be of satisfactory quality.

If they are not up to standard, you may be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. For goods, if you’ve had them for less than 30 days, you have a short-term right to reject them, although you can ask for a repair or replacement during this time, if you prefer. If you’re outside of this initial 30-day period, you will be entitled to a repair or replacement in the first instance.

You have six years to bring a claim against a trader for faulty goods or services. This doesn’t mean that all goods have to last for this long, but this is the length of time given to consumers to take legal action.

Returning items

Some stores will allow you to return unwanted Christmas gifts with a gift receipt, but remember that statutory rights are held by the person who bought the goods, not the person they were bought for.

Receipts are not a legal requirement – if you were not given one and a trader asks for proof of purchase, things like bank statements will also be sufficient.

Online purchases

If you buy goods online, you will have 14 days from receiving the goods to ask the trader for a refund. This applies even if you’ve just changed your mind. If the goods are faulty, then your usual rights will apply.

Further advice

Need further advice, or want to report a matter to Trading Standards? Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for free, impartial advice, on 0808 223 1133 or via the Citizens Advice website.