Buying second-hand – what rights do you have?
Published 3 October 2015 by Emily Bancroft
When you buy something from a second-hand shop, your rights might not seem as clear-cut as when you buy it brand-new.
When you need to buy some new things for the home – a TV, bikes for the kids, a dining table – this can cost you a small fortune. It can be particularly hard if you’re on a tight budget as it just seems that your money won’t stretch that far. Fortunately, there’s an alternative if you‘re looking to save money – buying the goods second-hand.
Going to a charity or second-hand shop means you could pick up clothes or furniture for a fraction of the price that it would cost if you were to buy it new. But what if something goes wrong with what you’ve bought? Will you still be able to take it back to the shop for a refund?
Your legal rights
When you buy anything from an official company – whether that’s second-hand or new – you’re covered under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This protects you if you’re buying second-hand goods from an online company like eBay or you’ve paid for it in a physical shop. However, if you bought something before 1st October 2015, you’ll be covered by the Sales of Goods Act 1979 instead.
The Consumer Rights Act states that the goods you’ve bought must be of a satisfactory quality, as described by the seller and fit for purpose. What this means is that whatever you’ve bought has to be in the same condition that it was described – so if you bought a TV where the description said it was in working order but you get it home and it won’t switch on, you’d be able to say it wasn’t as it was described.
Goods that are bought second-hand also have to be of a ‘satisfactory quality’, meaning if you paid for a dress and it had a big hole in the back, you’d probably look to return it. Satisfactory quality can be hard to define but it just means that if a reasonable person wouldn’t agree that the goods were of a reasonable quality, you should be able to get a refund.
However, if you buy something second-hand from a private seller – like a friend or a colleague – you’ve only got the protection that the goods must be ‘as described’, and no cover for the quality.
If you’re making a big second-hand purchase, like a leather sofa for £200, you could consider paying for all or some of this using your credit card. Purchases worth between £100 and £30,000 are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act when you use a credit card to pay.
You don’t have to use your credit card to cover the full cost of what you’re buying – even just a penny will be enough. Find out more about how this works in our Section 75 blog.