Know your rights when doing your Holiday shopping
12/03/2010 | This Christmas, before you shop till you drop, know your rights before flashing your cash.
A store’s ‘no refund’ policy means exactly that, unless the goods are faulty or defective.
In that case the shop’s rule does not apply — the law takes precedence and the Sales of Goods Act (as amended) 2002 is your legal protection. The Act states that goods must conform to contract and be of a satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose and as described.
Of a satisfactory quality means the goods are of a standard that a reasonable person would consider satisfactory — free from fault or defect, being fit for their usual purpose, of a reasonable appearance and finish, safe and durable.
If I bought a new cellphone and the ringer was inaudible, I’d consider this unsatisfactory. Fit for the purpose means goods should be capable of doing what they are meant for, both their obvious everyday purpose and also any specific purpose that you explained to the seller, such as if you asked for a printer that is compatible with your computer.
Goods must be “as described”, either verbally, in words or pictures on packaging or an advert.
This means the item should be as described and meet any description of it. For example, if I purchase a dual action showerhead, I expect it to have at least two settings.
If you are buying second hand or from a private seller — someone who does not sell goods for part or all of their living, it is not their full-time business — the Sale of Goods Act has limited power to protect you.
This is where you the consumer must be cautious.
But if the seller was dishonest about the reason for selling the second hand product, you may be entitled to a refund. Compensation will have to be decided by Magistrates’ Court.
Finally, if you are returning an item, do not let a store tell you that you must send it back to the manufacturer.
You bought the goods from the trader and the contract is with him — it is his responsibility to solve problems.