To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Know Your Rights – when buying tech and gadgets

Having problems with your latest purchase, we clarify your consumer rights

You get what you pay for, don’t you? If you pay a lot of money for a laptop, for example, you might expect it to last longer than a cheaper version. However, all consumer goods will fail in the end. The question is then, how long should your kit last and what can you do if you think it didn’t last long enough, or it failed to perform the task you thought it ought to?

However, before we get started answering these and other questions, it’s important to note that we’re not providing legal advice here. Instead, this is a general guide to point you in the right direction when things go wrong with any computer-related kit you’ve bought from the high street, online or by telephone.

Know Your Rights intro

It’s also important to retain your proof of purchase – usually a till receipt – should you ever need to take the item back to the retailer. Finally, before attempting to make a claim under warranty, you should have some proof of the warranty, and also have registered it with the manufacturer if required to do this shortly after purchase. With these points in mind, let’s begin.


As a private customer and consumer you have legal rights. These rights come from the Sale of Goods Act (1979), which as a UK consumer is a piece of legislation you should get to know. By the end of this feature you’ll not only know what your rights are, but you’ll also be equipped with enough knowledge to go about resolving problems when a shop isn’t being helpful.

The Sale of Goods Act has been amended and extended by other Acts and Regulations over the years. For example, one extension adds the same rights to buying products online and by telephone as well as from shops. These laws and regulations apply to businesses and individuals who sell by way of business and for profit; we’ll refer to them from now on as retailers.

If you’re not satisfied with your purchase because it has fault or operating defect, you’re entitled under the Act to ask the person who sold it to you to put things right. You need to act quickly, describe the problem clearly and calmly and tell them that you know what your rights are.

Some retailers offer a full refund, within a limited timeframe, if you change your mind. This is generous since, except in a few circumstances, they don’t have to do this. Legal rights apply only if the product is defective in some way, or you bought it via the internet, mail order or telephone. If you did purchase via any means where you weren’t face to face with the retailer, Distance Selling Regulations then apply. One of the additional rights under these regulations is a ‘cooling-off’ period of seven working days during which you can cancel the order and return the kit. However, auctions aren’t covered by these regulations, and you can’t return software after you have opened the wrapping.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Read more