Law guide: Complaints & disputes

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Clothes and shoes

Clothes and shoes

Contents

The law requires that any item of clothing (including a pair of shoes) must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for its purpose; and
  • as described.

This means it must be:

  • Fit to be worn - the seams should not be coming apart or the material flawed
  • What you asked for - for example, waterproof
  • The same size as stated on the label

You can find out about these rights in the section Introduction to your legal rights.

When an item doesn't meet any of its conditions

Note that different rules apply depending on whether you bought the item before or after 1 October 2015.

Purchases made before 1 October 2015

Before use

When you buy an item of clothing that is faulty before it has been used, you should be entitled to a full or partial refund. This won't be the case, however, if you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the item when buying it and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it.

Whether you're entitled to a full refund depends on whether you've 'accepted' the item of clothing. The Sale of Goods Act states that you have a 'reasonable time' to examine goods after purchase before they're regarded as being 'accepted' by you. It doesn't specifically state how long a 'reasonable time' is; it depends on factors like how often you use the item, the type of fault (whether it's obvious or not) and whether you've continued to use the item despite knowing it has a fault.

If you've accepted the item of clothing, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement. The seller is entitled to refuse either of these if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative. Whatever remedy is agreed, it shouldn't result in undue inconvenience to you.

After wearing the item only a few times

If you only worn it a few times before a fault arose, you may be entitled to a refund (assuming that you didn't have a reasonable opportunity to examine the item when buying it and the fault wasn't so obvious that you should have noticed it). However, you'll only be entitled to a refund if you haven't accepted the item (see above).

Alternatively, you may request that the item be repaired or replaced. If the fault is only minor and can easily be put right, it's reasonable to accept a repair. This repair should be completed to a satisfactory standard at no additional cost to you. If the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard, you're entitled to request a refund.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return an item of clothing to request a repair or replacement, you don't have to prove that the item was faulty at the time of sale. There's an assumption that the item of clothing was faulty unless the seller can prove otherwise. If you opt for a refund rather than a repair or replacement, the onus will be on you to prove that the item was faulty at the time of sale.

After wearing the item more than a few times

If you've worn it more than a few times or had a reasonable opportunity to check it, you might not qualify for a refund, but you may still be entitled to a repair or replacement.

A repair should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you significant inconvenience. Any repair should restore goods to a satisfactory condition. If it's not restored to a satisfactory condition, you should be entitled to a partial refund. (This will be less than the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the item.)

If an item can't be repaired or replaced

If the item of clothing can't be replaced or repaired economically, you're entitled to a refund. The seller may make a reduction from the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the clothing.

Purchases made on or after 1 October 2015

The right to reject

When you buy an item of clothing that is faulty, you are entitled to a full refund so long as no more than 30 days have passed, starting on the first day after you became the owner of the item or after when it was delivered.

You won't be entitled to this refund if you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the item when buying it and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it or if the seller informed you of the fault before you bought it.

If you request the seller to repair or replace the item within the 30-day period, then the 30-day time limit will be paused. Once this has been done, you will then have the remainder of the 30-day period or 7 days (depending on which one is longer) to check if the repair or replacement has been successful and decide whether to reject it.

It'll be up to you to prove there is something wrong with the item if the seller doesn't accept this.

A refund must be given within 14 days of the seller agreeing that you're entitled to it.

The right to a repair, replacement or refund

If you don't want or aren't entitled to a refund, you can request for the item to be repaired or replaced without being charged for it, if it won't cause you significant inconvenience.

The seller is entitled to refuse to repair or replace the item if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative or if it would be impractical..

An item should be repaired or replaced within a reasonable time. A repair should be completed to a satisfactory standard and a replacement should be of satisfactory quality.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return the item to request a repair, replacement or refund, you don't have to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the clothing was faulty unless the seller is able to prove otherwise.

Price reduction or refund

You'll be entitled to reject the item and ask for a price reduction or refund if any of the below apply:

  • the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard
  • the replacement is not of satisfactory quality
  • the seller refuses to repair or replace the item because the cost of doing so would be excessive or if it would be impractical
  • the repair or replacement was not provided within a reasonable time or caused you significant inconvenience

You'll be entitled to a price reduction or you can reject the item, depending on whether you choose to keep it. If you choose to keep it, you can claim a reduction in price, which must be an amount appropriate to your circumstances and could be the whole price.

If you reject the item then you should get a full or partial refund. This will depend on whether the seller will take any use of the item into account.

If a fault has caused additional expense

If anything else has been damaged (e.g. if the colour ran due to a fault and discoloured other clothes), or you're out of pocket in any other way, you may be entitled to compensation over and above the price of the item.

Important points

You have no rights if:

  • the item doesn't fit;
  • you change your mind; or
  • you've selected the wrong clothes for a particular use.

However, you have 14 calendar days to cancel a contract for goods ordered by telephone, mail order, internet or fax, except for those goods that are made to order.

Remember that no items last forever and all clothes need to be looked after to avoid unnecessary damage. However, if there are genuine problems with an item of clothing, the seller must fix the situation. The seller can't tell you to go back to the manufacturer.

If things go wrong

As soon as you've determined that there is a problem with an item of clothing that you've bought:

  • Stop wearing the item of clothing.
  • Make sure that the fault wasn't caused by misuse, an accident, normal wear and tear or by not following the care label.
  • Find your proof of purchase. If you haven't got a receipt, you can use a credit card voucher or cheque stub. Own-brand goods, something exclusive to one shop (like a customised carrier bag) or the packaging may prove where you bought the item. If someone was with you when you bought it, they can back you up. Remember that it's up to you to show where and when you bought the clothes.
  • You now need to contact the seller straight away and report the problem. Take the item, the packaging (if possible) and any proof of purchase with you. If you can't take the clothes back to the shop, phone or write to the seller.