Buying goods

Your rights when you buy goods

When you buy something, you enter into a contract with the business who sells it to you. The business agrees to provide a product or service to you for a certain price. Under consumer law, the item must be:

  • Of merchantable quality – it must be of a reasonable and acceptable standard
  • Fit for the purpose intended – it must be capable of being used for its purpose, e.g. a kettle should be able to boil water
  • As described – it must match the description given verbally or in an advertisement. False or exaggerated claims must not be made by the business

When you buy something, you are entitled to be dealt with fairly by the salesperson or trader – they should act in good faith, not mislead you about the product or service and avoid using harassment, coercion or undue influence.


There is no obligation on the business to give you a receipt. However, you should always ask for one. Receipts are an important and easy way to prove you bought something in a particular store.

Even if you lose your receipt, your consumer rights still apply when returning something that is faulty. All you need is proof of purchase, which doesn’t necessarily need to be a receipt.

Proof of purchase could be:

  • A credit or debit card statement
  • An invoice
  • A cheque book stub
  • If the product is own-brand and has clearly come from the retailer in question this may be accepted as proof of purchase

Find out more about your rights if you need to return something.

If you simply change your mind about an item and wish to return it, you do not have any rights under consumer law. Some businesses may accept returns and give you a refund, exchange or credit note within a certain time period. This is a goodwill gesture on their part, but is not a legal requirement. Find out more about changing your mind after you’ve bought something.

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