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Goods bought in a sale - your rights

When you buy goods in a sale, you have the same rights as if you have bought non-sale goods. However, if the goods were reduced in price because of a fault the trader showed you, or if you’ve just changed your mind, you’re unlikely to be able to ask the trader to put things right.

This page explains your rights when you buy goods in a sale.

Top tips

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.

What is a sale?

Many traders hold sales where you can buy goods at a discount from their usual price. Sales usually last for a limited time. The goods may be reduced in price because the trader needs to clear stock at the end of the season, because they want to attract customers, or because there are known faults with the goods.

Your rights when you buy goods

When you buy goods in a sale, you have the same rights as if you have bought non-sale goods. 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 (a partial refund).

You may not have these rights if:

  • there is nothing wrong with the goods – you have just changed your mind about wanting them
  • the fault you want to complain about was brought to your attention before you bought the goods
  • 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.

If the goods were reduced because of a fault the trader showed you

You can't claim that an item you bought in the sale is faulty if it only has faults you were told about before you bought it. For example, if you buy a coat which has a label saying there's a hole in it, you can't complain later about the hole. The same applies if you found a fault and asked for the price to be reduced because of it.

However, if the item has another fault, apart from the one you were told about, you can still complain about it. For example, if you were told about the hole in the coat but the stitching in another part of the coat came apart, you would still be able to return it and ask for a repair, replacement or your money back.

If you’ve just changed your mind

A trader doesn’t have to give you a repair, replacement or refund if you’ve just changed your mind about goods you bought in a sale. However, some traders have their own returns policies which might offer you an exchange or a credit note if you’ve changed your mind about sale goods. You will often find details of these policies on the back of your receipt or displayed next to the tills.

If you’ve changed your mind about goods you bought in a sale, it is worth asking the trader if they will let you return the goods anyway.

If the trader says they won’t accept returns on sale items

A trader can’t try to limit your rights when you buy goods in a sale. So, for example, if you see a sign saying ‘no returns on sale goods’ or 'sold as seen', this shouldn’t mean that you can’t return something which is faulty – unless you’d been told about the fault before buying it. If the sign does mean this, the trader may be committing an offence. You should report them to Trading Standards.

If the item’s price has been reduced since you bought it

Traders sometimes display signs in sales saying that if you return an item you'll be refunded the most recent sale price. If you are returning something faulty you bought in a sale and it's within a reasonable time, you should be refunded the full amount you paid. You may have to show the trader your receipt, or some other proof that you paid the amount you're asking to be refunded.

Next steps

Citizens Advice

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