Refunds – the legal obligations

If a customer complains that an item you sold them is faulty, is not as described or does not do what it is supposed to do, then you must offer a refund.

You do not have to make a refund if the customer:

  • knew an item was faulty when they bought it;
  • damaged an item by trying to repair it themselves or getting someone else to do it (though they may still have the right to a repair, replacement or partial refund); or
  • no longer want an item (for example because it’s the wrong size or colour) unless they bought it without seeing it.

Other considerations

  • You have to offer a refund for certain items if they are faulty. Foe example, personalised items, perishable goods, newspapers and magazines and unwrapped CDs, DVDs and computer software.
  • Online or telephone sales customers have the right to cancel their order. They must tell you of their intention to cancel within 14 days of receiving the goods and another 14 days to return the goods once they have told you.
  • Customers have up to 6 years to make a claim for an item they’ve bought from you (5 years in Scotland).
  • A customer has the same right to free repairs or a replacement regardless of whether they have a warranty or guarantee or not. You may still have to repair or replace goods if a customer’s warranty or guarantee has run out.
  • You can ask the customer for proof that they bought an item from you. This could be a sales receipt or other evidence such as a bank statement or packaging.
  • You only have to accept returns from the person who bought the goods returned.

And finally, it’s illegal to display any notice that deliberately misleads consumers or deceives them about their rights, for example a sign that says you do not accept returns or offer refunds.