Problems with things you've bought

Some goods and services come with a guarantee or you may have bought an extended warranty. The law also gives you certain rights if something goes wrong.

Stay MoneyFit and know your rights if things go wrong and what you might need to do to sort the problem out. The Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with information about your consumer rights and all the links on this page go to their site.

Check your guarantee

We'll help you decide whether you should claim under your free guarantee or extended warranty.

First, check the details of your guarantee or warranty to see what cover you have for your goods and what you can claim. This may be on a receipt, a leaflet, or in the product manual.

Depending on the terms of the guarantee or warranty, you may still have to pay for some things, such as: 

  • labour charges. For example, if someone is sent out to replace your broken window, you wouldn’t have to pay for the window but you might have to pay for the cost of the call-out 
  • the cost of some spare parts 
  • postage, packing and transportation costs when sending goods back 
  • extra losses caused by the fault 
  • call-out charges.

Is it worth claiming on your guarantee or warranty?

It may not always be best to claim on your guarantee or warranty. If your goods are faulty or a service isn't satisfactory, you may be able to complain to the trader and get a refund, replacement, repair or compensation under consumer law.

There are advantages to using your legal rights instead of using your guarantee. For example, if you're entitled to a free repair under consumer law, you won't have to pay for call out charges or postage.

You may want to claim under the guarantee if:

  • it's not convenient to return the goods to a shop and easier to return them by post to a manufacturer or distributor
  • the trader has gone out of business
  • the goods were bought abroad and the manufacturer has a branch in the UK
  • you are offered a better deal under the guarantee, or  
  • the goods were received as a present or a prize and the trader will not help you.

For more information see Claiming under a guarantee or warranty.

did you know?

In some cases it may be better to ask for a repair, replacement, refund or compensation using your legal consumer rights first.  This is because your guarantee may not give you as much protection as your legal rights, for example, you may have to pay labour or postal charges.

What the law says

The law says that any item you buy from a trader must be: 

  • of satisfactory quality 
  • fit for purpose 
  • match any description given. 
If it isn’t, you can usually get one of the following: 
  • a repair 
  • a replacement 
  • your money back (a refund)
  • some of your money back. 

You will not have these rights if: 

  • there is nothing wrong with the goods – you have just changed your mind about wanting them 
  • you examined the goods, or a sample of the goods, when you were buying them, and the fault you want to complain about was so obvious that you should have noticed it 
  • the trader pointed out the defect that you now want to complain about 
  • you have damaged the goods yourself 
  • the problem is the result of normal wear and tear 
  • the goods have lasted for as long as could reasonably be expected. 
For more information see What you can do about faulty goods.

take care!

If you think the goods are dangerous or unsafe, don't use them. Take action straight away to report the fault to Trading Standards. The trader may have committed a criminal offence, see Dangerous and unsafe goods.

Getting your money back

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get all your money back if you have: 

  • kept the goods for too long before telling the trader, or 
  • tried to repair or change the goods yourself in any way. 
If you aren't entitled to all your money back for one of these reasons, you may be entitled to get some of your money back, or to a repair or replacement instead. For more information see Faulty goods - if you want your money back.

For more about getting your money back if you bought the goods on credit, see Extra rights when you buy on credit.



If you receive goods as a gift and they are faulty, the person who actually bought them should be the one to make the complaint. However, you can make a complaint to the trader yourself, as long as the person who bought the goods for you told the trader when they bought them that they were going to be given to you.

Ideally, your name should be written on a receipt, invoice or guarantee card as proof that the goods belong to you. If arrangements were made to deliver the goods to you, rather than the person who bought them for you, this could also be used as proof.

Money fitness tip

Get help making a complaint at

Private sales

If you buy goods from a private individual, for example, through an advert in a newspaper or shop window or at a car boot sale, you have less legal rights than when you buy from a trader. See Private sales and car boot sales for more information.


When you buy goods at an auction, you may have fewer rights than when you buy from a trader such as a shop or a catalogue. This applies particularly when you buy second-hand goods from an auction that attend - see Buying at auction.

For more information on your rights see the Consumer section on the Citizens Advice website.

Last reviewed: 27/10/2015