Your rights when shopping for clothes in the sales; what can you do if there’s a problem?

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If you’re shopping for a bargain, in a shopping centre, high street or online, I hope you find what you’re looking for! But what happens if you you buy something faulty? Find out about your rights when shopping for clothes in the sales.

Your rights when shopping for clothes

When you buy clothes (or any other goods), even when they are in a sale, they must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If they aren’t, then the items are faulty and you’re within your legal rights to ask for a refund, repair or replacement.

You should:

  • Check the clothes you have bought. Do this as soon as possible and before using them. If you do find a fault, don’t wear them and contact the trader or return them as soon as possible.

SAVVY TIP: Under the Consumer Rights Act, you have good rights if you buy something. There’s an automatic right to a refund if a fault develops within 30 days of you buying the clothes. After that, the shop can offer to repair or replace them. But, realistically, very few clothes shops would offer to repair clothes that are faulty. They would normally let you take a replacement or give you your money back.

  • Understand your rights. You have better protection when you buy online, by phone or mail order. If you’re buying clothes over the internet you have 14 days from when your clothes arrive to change your mind and ask for a refund. In this case the clothes don’t need to be faulty, you can simply send them back because you don’t like them or because they look different to the image on the website.

SAVVY TIP: If you’re planning to return something because you’ve changed your mind, you don’t have to send it back within 14 days. However, you do have to tell the company (either by email or over the phone) that you’re going to return it. You should return the goods within 14 days of telling the company you don’t want them.

  • Understand the exceptions: The only exception relevant to clothes is if you bought something online that was custom made for you. In this case you don’t have a right to get a refund because you’d changed your mind. However, you’d still be able to get a repair, replacement or refund if the clothes were faulty.

Your rights when shopping for clothes in the sales

You have the same rights if you buy something at a knock down price as if you pay full price. That means items should still be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and as described. The law says that if a shop has a sign by the till saying ‘no refunds on sale items’ or ‘no cash refunds on reduced items’ it’s breaking the law. If an item is faulty, you can get it repaired, replaced or a refund.

SAVVY TIP: The only exception is if you knowingly buy a faulty item, in which case you must be given a chance to inspect the fault.

If you don’t like what you’ve bought..

Check the shop’s return policy when buying on the high street. If you simply change your mind, you won’t have any legal right to a refund, however many stores do offer additional rights to return as part of their customer service

What counts as satisfactory quality?

The grey area is that the law doesn’t define what counts as satisfactory quality. It depends on:

  • How much you paid. If you bought a pair of shoes for a tenner they wouldn’t be expected to last as long as a pair that cost £100.
  • What you’ve used them for. If you’ve worn delicate party sandals every day (unlikely, I know!) they may fall apart after a few months but a pair of shoes or boots should be able to cope with a fair amount more wear and tear.

Related articles:

Hiring clothes and shoes – where can you go and what’s on offer?

Faulty goods – there are new consumer rights from October 1st 2015

What ombudsman schemes are there? Who can you complain to?

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