If you bought it in a shop or using an internet shop (not a private trader) the following rights apply if the item is faulty.

If you bought online you also have a 14 day right to cancel and get a refund –even there is nothing wrong but you’ve changed you mind. If that applies click here to read about your 14 day right to a refund for your internet purchase.

Problems that you may face include the item you bought:

  • Breaking down
  • Never working properly
  • Not being up to the job it was needed for
  • Causing an injury.


Summary of the law - shop purchase

Your rights
where you are unhappy with the product or item you have bought:


Don’t let the shop fob you off by saying you should take it up with the company that made the item. Your main rights are against the shop or supplier you bought from. These are known as your ‘statutory rights’.

Products you buy should:

  • match the description you were given, 
  • be of satisfactory quality
  • be ‘fit for their purpose’. 

If they are not, then your rights depend on the product and the fault. See the “your claim” box below for further information. It could be reasonable for you to get:

  • your money back, or 
  • a free repair, or 
  • a replacement by the retailer, or even
  • compensation for extra losses or injury you suffered as a result. This is harder to place a value on – so please ask about this when you take your Free Initial Assessment 

These rights come from The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and can sometimes last much longer than the length of a manufacturer’s guarantee.

If you bought (or paid part of the cost) by credit card then you may also have the extra protection of being able to claim these same rights from the credit card company. 

Did you pay by Credit Card?

Finally you may also have rights against the company that made the faulty product (known as the manufacturer). This can be in cases where a product causes an injury but is mainly when the item comes with a guarantee or warranty.

Guarantee or warranty: What you are entitled to will be set out in the wording. You may also be given useful extra rights to claim whatever is permitted by the terms of that guarantee or warranty. This often lasts 6 months but can be longer. However your rights against the shop or supplier will often last longer.

What do you have to prove to bring a claim?


1: That you bought the item form the particular shop or supplier. A receipt or other proof of purchase will prove this.

2: That the product is not working properly (not fit for its purpose). This is usually a matter of common-sense when the item is inspected by the shop or supplier.

3: If the problem occurs more than 6 months after you bought it then you may need to show the problem was not your fault and was not down to:

  • Normal ‘wear and tear’ of being used. 
  • You mis-using the item.

Note: If the problem occurs in the first 6 months after you bought the item, then it is assumed the product was not of satisfactory quality and/or was ‘not fit for its purpose’. It is for the shop or supplier to prove otherwise.


What evidence should you collect together?


1: Proof or when and where you bought the item.

2: If the shop (or adverts for the product) made any particular claims about the item then you should make a note of these.
3: If you have suffered any losses and expenses you should keep receipts or other proof of these costs to you.
4: If you suffered an injury caused by the product, then get it checked by your GP or hospital – so there is an independent record of your injury.


Your claim: What you can you claim from the shop or supplier of the item.


What you can claim depends on what is reasonable in the particular circumstances for the type of product at fault.  So, if a product you’ve bought develops a fault  you may be entitled to the following from the shop or supplier:

  • Get your money back. You are usually entitled to this where the fault occurs in the first 4 weeks. You should let the shop know as soon as possible. 
  • Have it replaced. Where the fault occurs in the first 6 months after you bought it, you should be entitled to a replacement.
  • Have it repaired (at no cost to you). If you have had the use of the item for some time, then repairs are the most likely reasonable outcome. Depending on the item and the circumstances, it may be reasonable for the shop to cover the cost of repairs beyond any period of warranty or guarantee.
  • Repaired by someone else. If the shop refuses to repair the faulty item, you may have the right to arrange for someone else to repair it and claim compensation from the retailer for the cost of doing this.
  • You can also claim your additional losses and expenses. These are to put you in the position you would be in if you had not bought the faulty product. Some examples are given in the sample complaint letter.


What is the deadline for starting a claim at court?


Usually you have 6 years from the date you first suffered loss or harm from the defective product. 

This reduces to 3 years if you suffered a physical injury.

However, you will usually have much less time from when you bought the product to be able to claim the product was at fault and that  it is reasonable for you to receive compensation. How long is reasonable will depend on the item and its cost and how long it is expected to last.


Example claims


  • Washing machine never cleaning properly
  • Dishwasher flooding your kitchen
  • Lawnmower not up to the job – despite what the salesman told you.
  • Children’s toy having sharp parts – unsuitable for use by children.
  • Can opener causing a deep cut to your finger despite being used in accordance with instructions.



Disclaimer reminder


Please note: To give you general information about your dispute, the information given here is a simplification of a complex area of law and cannot be relied upon. Before taking action please use our Small Claims service to get specialist legal advice on your specific circumstances. See the full terms and conditions of this website


Format - complaint letter



Information to include

Sample letter – shop purchase faulty


Start of official letter to other side.

[If you know the person’s name]: Dear Mr Smith, 

[If you do not know their name]: Dear Sirs,



Any relevant background information:

  • Date bought
  • Shop details
  • Product details
  • Price

If relevant, any promises made about the product by the shop’s advertising or by the salesperson who served you.



On 15 April 2013 I bought a washing machine from your shop at Broadmead shopping centre, Bristol . The details are:

  • Make/manufacturer: King Machines Ltd
  • Model name and number: Wash King 2000
  • Price: £500 (inc VAT and delivery)

The sales assistant (female about 40 years old with dark hair) told me this was the best model for heavy duty washing of my team’s rugby kit.



Details of any payments requested and any payments made.

I paid a deposit of £100 by credit card when in store on 15 April 2013.

I paid the balance of £400 on 15 May 2013 over the phone by debit card.

I assume there is no dispute over the payments but I can obtain proof if needed.



Describe clearly why you are unhappy. 

Be clear about why you think the other person is responsible. 


Description of fault: For the first couple of weeks it seemed fine. Then I noticed it was not cleaning properly. 

Then on 25 May 2013 I came back to find that it had stopped mid cycle, there was smoke coming from the back and it had flooded my kitchen and entrance hall.

When I took out my load of washing it was ripped and damaged.

I attach photos taken of the smoking machine, flooding and damaged washing

As you will see from the photos of the damaged clothing, I had not overloaded the machine.

Conclusion: I therefore consider it to be faulty and ‘not fit for purpose’.
This fault is more than the usual ‘wear and tear’ that is to be expected in using the product. The fault means the product cannot be used for the purpose I bought it for.


Problems caused

Give details of any problems you have suffered as a result.

If relevant, attach photographs

Problems caused

Damage to my kitchen, entrance hall and washing. This is shown in the photos. 

I can no longer use the washing machine.


Losses and expenses 

If the problems have caused you losses or expenses.

Also provide proof of the damage and cost of repairs or replacement wherever possible.

Damaged property: you are entitled to the cost of replacing the item with an equivalent of similar condition. Unless an item is pretty new this is a “second hand” value.

Injury: If you have been injured by the faulty product you may be able to claim injury compensation. You should mention this when getting your Free Initial Assessment from us.

Losses and expenses

I value the losses I suffered  as follows:

  • £500 to refund the cost of the washing machine (the original purchase price)
  • £50 for an engineer to refit the replacement machine (see receipt for Jim’s Fitters for when the first machine was fitted)
  • £200 to replace the entrance hall carpet (see estimate from Great Carpet’s Limited that also confirms the current carpet is damaged beyond repair).
  • £100 to replace the 2 pairs of jeans ruined by the machine. One was only a month old so I claim the full price of £60. The other was a year old so I claim a second hand value price of £40. 
  • £150 – my future lost income (after tax & NIC) as I will need to take 2 half days off from work (as holiday) for the engineer and carpet fitter (see email from my employer confirming my salary worked out as a day rate).

Total: £1,000




Be as clear as possible about the remedy you would like. 

Refund: The legal right to have your money back only lasts for a short time. You can still ask for this but if you have had the item for a while before complaining then, in law, you may only be entitled to a repair or a replacement. It comes down to what is reasonable in the circumstances.


Please either:

Replace the machine and pay my additional losses and expenses (set out above) that total £500.

Or refund the cost of the machine and pay my losses and expenses (set out above) giving a total of £1,000.



Give your opponent 14 days to reply to the letter – to:

  • agree with your complaint and give you the remedy that you seek 


  • arrange to inspect the problem. Give details of how they can see the faulty product (which will vary with the size of the product – such as:


  • I enclose  photographs that show what is wrong.
  • I am happy to agree a time with you to inspect it at my home.
  • I can bring it back to the place I bought it, at an agreed time.
  • I can post it to you (if you confirm that you will refund the cost of postage, packaging and insurance).


  • set out their detailed response.


Please do not ignore this letter. I would like us to try to resolve our dispute without court proceedings and legal costs.

Please reply in the next 14 days, so that this dispute can be resolved as set out in this letter. 

Arrangements: I am happy to agree a time with you to inspect the problems at my home. Please telephone me to discuss the arrangements for inspection within the next 14 days. The best daytime number to use is my mobile of 0799 043 732.

Within the next 14 days, please either contact me to arrange to inspect the washing machine or send me a cheque for the money requested, made payable to Mr Ian Rate to my home address.

If you do not agree that you are liable and/or do not agree with the remedy sought, then please reply within 14 days with a detailed explanation of why not.



Point out that ignoring your letter will mean you may start legal proceedings for the court to deal with the dispute and that you may refer the judge to your letter.


I am sure this will not prove necessary but if I do not hear from you within 14 days then I reserve the right to start court proceedings without further reference to you. I will ask the court for an order that you pay me money requested in this letter - £1,000. 

If I do have to issue court proceedings, I will refer the court to this letter and I will also ask the court to order you to pay me interest, court fees and legal costs. I would also report the matter to Trading Standards Department.

I look forward to hearing from you within the next 14 days.



Yours sincerely,

Ian Rate