I need a refund, what are my rights?

Need a refund? Bought something dodgy second-hand? Delivery late? Fortunately you have rights when it comes to buying products or a service.

signing receipt

Do I have rights when I’m shopping

There are laws to support you whenever you buy something, whether it’s:

  • Goods: actual, physical things, so clothes, a laptop, or a car.
  • Digital content: something you’ve bought in a digital format, including music, apps, and games.
  • A service: e.g a taxi after a night out or a meal at a restaurant, or any company that’s providing a service for you.

As easy it might seem to buy a pair of shoes or download your favourite band’s new album, you’re actually making a contract with the seller every time you purchase something. Basically, you promise to pay, and the seller makes set of promises in return, like delivering goods of a certain standard by a certain time. This contract forms the basis of your shoppers’ rights (you can read the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in full here.)

Some common consumer rights questions answered:

I bought a new toaster/iPad/car and it didn’t work when I got home

You can return a product if it’s faulty (this is called being of ‘unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described’ within the Act) within 30 days of purchase and receive a full refund within 14 days.

Some retailers extend this period, and most allow you to return a product if you’ve simply changed your mind, but this is totally down to the individual retailer.

My new phone stopped working within two months and it wasn’t my fault

If your product is faulty between one month and six months of purchasing then you still have rights. You’re entitled to a replacement or a repair, and if the repair fails, then you’re entitled to a full refund.

It’s only been six months and my laptop has died

The same rules apply if you discover a fault after six months since purchase, but if a refund is required then the retailer is allowed to deduct money due to the use within the first six months.

I download all my music now, do I still have rights?

Yes. The Consumer Rights Act includes digital purchases you make online, including music, ebooks, and apps. This content must still pass the ‘of satisfactory quality, fit for a particular purpose, and as described by the seller’, but if it’s faulty then you are only entitled to a repair or replacement rather than a refund.

An app I downloaded corrupted my phone!

If any digital content you download damages your device or other digital content on it (i.e. corrupts any documents you have, for example) then the seller must compensate for any repairs needed.

Do I still have rights if I bought something second-hand?

Just because they’re not brand new, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to meet expectations. If any second-hand products you buy end up faulty then the same rules apply, unless the seller told you about any faults before purchase. Then you’re just trying your luck.

I’m not happy with their customer service

Purchasing a service can mean a million things, including beauty treatments, private transport, fridge repairs, and a nice meal out at a restaurant. This service should be carried out with ‘reasonable care and skill’ and in ‘reasonable time’. So if you’re not happy with the service you’ve been given then you’re entitled to complain and ask for a refund or repeated service.

My delivery is so late!

Because the seller is responsible for your product until it’s in your hands, they’re also responsible for its delivery.

Your product should be delivered within 30 days by default unless a longer time has been agreed with you. If it’s late, you can cancel the order and get a full refund.

If you have any trouble with your delivery then you should contact the seller of the product rather than the delivery company, if different.

I’m having trouble, what can I do?

If, through reading this, you think your consumer rights have been compromised then you can contact Money for Life’s free helpline on 0808 801 0666, open 11am to 11pm every day.

MoneySavingExpert.com has an easy-to-understand section of their website on consumer rights and how to use them, and you can also contact Citizens Advice’s Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 05 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. They are the primary source of advice and info on these new laws.

More information

  • Citizens Advice Bureau offer free help with housing, money and legal problems. Find your local bureau.
  • Find the latest deals and learn new money tips at Money Saving Expert.
  • Go to Money Advice Service for free and impartial money advice.
  • Call Money for Life's helpline for free on 0808 801 0666 to get the support you need on money, debt, benefits and more. Open 11am – 11pm every day.