Consumer rights - Advice to businesses

A customer has brought back a faulty item. Do I have to give a refund?

For a short period after purchase the consumer would be entitled to a full refund; after a longer period they would be entitled to a repair, replacement or partial refund. You can not simply say you do not give refunds, and if you display notices saying this you are likely to be committing a criminal offence.

Can a customer return goods for a refund if they decide they do not like them?

There is no legal right to a refund unless the goods are faulty or were wrongly described. However, there is nothing to stop you offering a refund in such circumstances as a matter of goodwill.

If there is nothing wrong, but the customer doesn’t like their goods, do I have to do anything?

If you have met their legal rights you do not have to refund a customer who has simply changed their mind (unless the customer has a legal right to cancellation, for example, in a contract signed at their home, involving credit or over the internet).

If you have a stated policy that allows customers to return goods within a certain period if they are not happy, you must honour this.

Do you only advise consumers of their rights?

No. Our service is available to traders in the Borough.

I sell from a website. Are there any special rules?

Yes, internet sales are subject to the same 'distance selling' provisions as mail or phone orders. These allow the consumer a 'cooling off' period to examine goods. They can return the goods for a full refund, as long as they tell you they want to cancel within fourteen days of receiving the goods, and they return the goods in the same condition as they were delivered.

You can require them to pay the cost of returning them to you. You are not allowed to make a 'restocking charge' or anything similar.

Full guidance can be found at Trading Standards(external link)

Can I charge extra for non-cash sales?

Yes, but you must display a notice which explains when there will be extra charges.

Can I offer to repair or replace the goods instead of giving money back?

The customer can ask you for a repair or replacement, but you would both need to consider whether this is possible and cost effective. You cannot force a customer to accept a repair if this would cause them serious inconvenience.

If a consumer has asked you for a repair or replacement and this is not possible, or you have not done what you have agreed, they could ask for a full refund. A refund could be reduced to take account of their use of the goods.

Can I put up a ‘No Refunds’ sign in my shop?

No, any sign which seeks to remove a customer’s right to a refund is illegal. A ‘No Refunds’ sign may give customers the impression that they do not have a right to a refund whatever the circumstances. Every complaint should be dealt with on an individual.

Do I have to disclose that I am a business when advertising goods for sale?

If you advertise goods for sale to consumers, it must be clear that you not a private seller. Where this isn’t obvious it will be necessary to include a statement such as 'Trade', 'Trader' or 'Trade Sale'.

Do I have to do anything if the customer hasn’t got a receipt?

A receipt is not the only means of proving that they bought the goods from you. The customer may have a credit card slip or proof from their bank. They might simply be able to show that somebody else witnessed their purchase. The goods may have your brand name or label on them.

If you offer to refund or exchange goods that customers do not like, you could insist that they bring their receipt as proof of purchase.

Do I have to provide warranties with the goods I sell?

Warranties are an addition to a consumers rights, these rights automatically exist when a member of the public buys anything from a trader. You may if you wish add to these rights by providing a warranty either free of charge or at a cost, but warranties cannot take away a customers basic rights.

Do I need a licence to trade?

There is no requirement to hold a licence simply to trade, but you may need a licence or official registration for one of more specific aspects of your business.

© Wigan Council