FAQ Friday: Faulty goods

February 26, 2021

Every Friday, we will share the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) from the hundreds of consumers who contact our dedicated helpline each week. This week we take a look at your rights when it comes to faulty goods.

Q. What are my rights if I bought goods online which turned out to be faulty? Am I entitled to a full refund?

When it comes to returning faulty goods bought online, the most important thing that you need to be aware of when understanding what consumer rights apply is – location. Therefore, your first step will be to check where the online business is located, as consumer rights and protections are different in EU versus non-EU countries.

EU-based business

When you buy online from a business based within the EU, you have strong rights when it comes to returns or if you experience any after-sales issues. EU consumer protection law means that if the goods you bought turn out to be faulty, the business must offer you either: a refund, repair, replacement or reduction in price as a solution. However, the law doesn’t say which solution you are entitled to, so it is up to you to negotiate with the business and agree a suitable option.

Non-EU based business

When you buy online from a business based outside of the EU, and the goods turn out to be faulty, then what you are entitled to will depend on what is detailed in the business’s own returns and refunds policy. This means that what you are entitled to will depend on the terms and conditions (T&Cs) listed on the business’s website. In this case, check for any reference to refunds and returns where the product is found to be faulty. Be sure to keep a copy of the T&Cs by saving them or by taking a screen print for your records. Take note of any relevant sections which may help when following up with the business about your options.

If you are having trouble contacting the business, or if they don’t respond within a reasonable timeframe, consider writing a letter of complaint to their head office. Outline your concerns and include any relevant information such as pictures of the faulty product, or references to the refund and returns policy within their T&Cs. If you cannot get the issue resolved, you could contact Consumers International to see if they could help you resolve the issue.  It works with its member countries on issues that affect consumers in multiple countries and across national borders.

Top Tip

When shopping online, it’s important to check where the business is based. If you choose to buy from a website outside the EU, it is very important to read the T&Cs on the website and if necessary, ask the following questions before you buy:

  • Can you return the item if you change your mind?
  • Can you cancel an order before it is dispatched?
  • Do you have the right to return the item and if you can return an item, who pays for the cost of returning it – you or the business?

For more information on your consumer rights, see our Consumer Hub.

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