/ Shopping

Are retailers refusing to honour the Sale of Goods Act?

Stop hand

If something you’ve bought turns our to be faulty, you should be able to return it to the retailer. That’s thanks to the Sale of Goods Act – but it seems some shops aren’t always allowing you to exercise those rights.

Under the Sale of Goods Act, goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If they’re not and it’s within a reasonable time – usually three or four weeks – you can reject the item and get a full refund. If you’re out of time, you can ask for a repair or replacement.

Plus, within the first six months of purchase the onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault was not present at the time of purchase – after this time the onus switches to you, the consumer.

Does the Sale of Goods Act work for you?

But while these rights seem simple enough, putting them into practice can be tough. We’ve heard from you about retailers refusing to honour Sale of Goods Act rights – confusing their own store policies on returning goods with their statutory obligations. Wavechange told us:

‘I don’t often shop in Curry’s but I can give several examples of unsatisfactory treatment regarding recently purchased products. My personal favourite was when I was told that the Sale of Goods Act did not apply to them. On another occasion Curry’s would not accept the return of a Miele vacuum and insisted that I contacted the manufacturer. I did and received excellent treatment, knowing well that it was the responsibility of Curry’s to sort out the problem.

‘My only success with Curry’s has been to get a different manager to swap a mobile, after their repeated failure to fix a problem on a phone that I had first returned within a few weeks of purchase and had been kept for emergency use in the glove box of my car.’

When we went to Currys & PC World for comment, a spokesperson told us:

‘As a retailer we fully acknowledge our responsibilities under the Sale of Goods Act and all of our store colleagues receive training on this. We will always try to resolve issues directly first but on the occasions where we do refer customers to suppliers, it is because they are best placed to achieve the quickest resolution – as detailed in our receipt wallet.’

Another commenter, Pat, told us about the camera troubles she had at a camera shop:

‘I had to return a small camera that refused to focus when in video mode. The assistant manager refused even when I pointed out the provisions under the Act. She said it had to be saleable and in the original packaging. I pointed out that was their rules not according to the Sale of Goods Act. She only refunded the money when I requested her refusal in writing so I could take them to court. THEN I had my money in record time.’

I’ve personally been lucky on the few occasions that I’ve needed to return goods, but that’s clearly not the case for many of you.

Have you ever had a problem trying to return an item under the Sale of Goods Act? Or have you found it to be a useful piece of legislation to refer to when you return goods? We’re trying to build up a picture of what’s really happening on the ground, so your comments will be valuable evidence for our research.

eve lincoln says:
3 August 2015

I bought a macbook pro from pcworld in may 2013. The hard drive has gone on it. I took it to Apple and was told it was the hard drive was bad. The guy at the genius bar said the proof would be on me to prove that the Hard drive was faulty from the start. I call customer care of PC World and they told me to bring into the store. I went into the store and they were very rude and told me to go to Trading Standards, and didn’t want to hear that I contacted customer support and was doing what customer support told me to do. I had to speak outside and call customer support and then went inside and handed the phone over to the employee (who was very rude) now I am waiting to know whether they will repair it or not. I will never buy another apple product again. I have an hp laptop from 2007 that stills works. I have done nothing wrong with that laptop, and apples are known to have issues with HD because lack of vents. I spent 1200 on the computer and the HD fails in 2 years. The customer support with PC world was fine but horrible in the store. I will update on here when I hear back from PC world. I am sad, because I have been told 5 different stories on SOGA. I want to know what my rights are.


Eve – When you buy a product, the responsibility for dealing with faults lies with the retailer rather than the manufacturer unless the manufacturer issues a safety recall. PC World should not have sent you to Apple unless they had first investigated the problem, but that’s what most retailers do. Which? has sent undercover reporters into well known retailers and recorded evidence of this.

Under the Sale of Goods Act the onus is on the purchaser to prove that a fault existed at the time of purchase after the item is six months old (it is the other way round up to six months), which would involve paying for an expert’s report. As I see it, the hard drive was probably OK but has failed – something which can happen with any hard drive, even though they are generally reliable.

Earlier this year I had a MacBook Pro repaired free of charge by an Apple Store, despite the fact that it was three and a half years old. One difference between is that I had bought my computer direct from Apple, so they were the retailer as well as the manufacturer.

The new Consumer Rights Act takes over from the Sale of Goods Act in October, but although there are benefits, the problem of getting support outside the manufacturer’s guarantee period remains and there is still no qualification of what ‘durability’ means. Many people don’t even try to exercise their rights.

If you get nowhere with PC World then a replacement hard drive should not be expensive and should not be to too expensive to fit. It’s a job some owners have done themselves, though not one I have needed to do. Best of luck.


Eve, the Sale of Goods Act does require a product to be “durable”
– the durability requirement is that the item should work or last for a reasonable time and – reasonable time – this depends on the item and the circumstances. What is reasonable is determined by taking everything into account and considering what an impartial person would think is reasonable.
Very general because SoGA covers every product. In your case Apple products are expensive, well made, so it should not fail in 2 years unless it has been abused. With a hard drive this might be a sticking point – it could have been dropped for example. You would need an expert examination to help your case, I suspect, if you went to the small claims court and as wavechange points out it might well be cheaper and simpler to have the drive replaced.

However, if it was me I would contact Apple with the whole story. They might help. Nothing to be lost 🙂

MJ Rich says:
12 July 2017

Eve, why did you not buy the MacBook from Apple or John Lewis? I would not buy anything from PC World as it looks like they cannot spell Sale of Goods Act let alone abide by it. Due to a bad experience with PC World some years ago I joined Which? It looks like the manufactures send their fawlty goods to PC World knowing the customer will be fobbed of with a repair. Like I said, you should have gone to Apple or John Lewis or Argos – anywhere but PC World.


MJ, your opinion of a retailer is irrelevant with regards to whether they have to honour the act or not, so you’re merely victim blaming.

Mary Burton says:
22 November 2017

i have bought a laptop from curries a lenovo and it has to go back just before warranty ran out had a faulty hard drive, it is now 3 weeks out of warranty and it has broke down again, this time they are saying its a soft ware issue and its out of warranty so not covered so i dont know if sale of goods act covers this ????

eve lincoln says:
7 August 2015

I got a call from pc world this morning, saying they haven’t done anything with the computer. The manager on purpose left it for 3 days before contacting me. They said that I needed to pay the 50 quid. I think that is in violation of SOGA that I have to pay to have it look at. I don’t think that 2 years on a HD is reasonable. I can see with 3 and half years it could go, but not at 2 years. I know have to go back to the apple store for a copy of the report.


eve, if you need a report I suggest you need an independent report that you arrange. PC World have a vested interest in the outcome so it does not seem appropriate they should control the report.