Why is this important?
Problems with clothes and shoes
When you buy clothes and shoes you might want to take them back if you change your mind or there is something wrong with them.
Clothes and shoes you buy should be of a satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose you expect to use them for, and match to any description you are given about them.
Read this page to find out more about the sort of problems you might have when you buy clothes and shoes, and where to get help.
If you change your mind about what you buy
You may decide you want to take back what you bought because you’ve changed your mind. If you've bought the items in a shop, you may not have a right to get your money back but you may have other options such as an exchange or a credit note.
If you bought the items over the phone, internet, TV or by mail order, this is known as a distance sale. You have extra rights to cancel with a distance sale if you change your mind.
- Check what your options are when you buy things in a shop
- Check what your options are when you buy things in a distance sale
If there is something wrong with what you buy
If there is a fault with the clothes or shoes when you buy them, you have a right to complain and may be able to get a repair, replacement, reduced price or refund from the trader.
You have a right to complain if clothes or shoes aren't of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose.
Clothes and shoes should be of satisfactory quality. For example, a dress which is shop soiled or has buttons missing isn't of satisfactory quality. If the sole on a pair of shoes comes away after a few weeks of normal wear, they probably weren't of satisfactory quality when you bought them.
Fit for purpose
Clothes and shoes must be fit for purpose, including any purpose you told the trader about when you bought them. For example, if you told the trader you needed a waterproof coat and you find out it lets in the rain, the coat would not be fit for purpose.
You may not have a right to complain if:
- the trader pointed out the fault before you bought the item
- you damaged the item yourself, misused it or didn't follow the care instructions properly
- the problem is the result of normal wear and tear
- the item has lasted for as long as could reasonably be expected.
Clothes and shoes don't match their description
Clothes and shoes should match any description given of them. For example, if a coat is described as being 100 per cent wool, it should be 100 per cent wool.
Label sizes on clothes can cause problems because there is no legal definition for sizes or the terms 'small, medium or large'. If clothes described by size don't fit you have no legal right to take them back although many traders have returns policies and there are extra cancellation rights for items bought by distance sale. However, if clothes aren't correctly labelled then you do have a right to a refund. For example, a skirt with a label that describes it as having a length of 90 centimetres must measure 90 centimetres.
Second hand or sales items
You have the same rights in a sale for items to be fault-free, fit for purpose and match their description. However, if the fault was pointed out when you bought the item, or it was marked as shop soiled or imperfect, you may not have a right to complain.
You should also expect second hand clothes and shoes to be fault- free, fit for purpose and match their description, if you bought them from a trader. However, you can't expect their appearance and finish to be as perfect as that of new items.
You don't have the same rights if you bought the item from a private seller.
Night clothes and fire resistance
Children's nightwear must be fire resistant. Adult's nightwear must carry a permanent label saying whether or not the item is fire resistant.
- For more information about night clothes and fire resistance, see the Government leaflet Nightwear and fire
- If you’ve got a problem with how much you’ve been charged for clothes or shoes, see Problems with price or payment