Consumer Rights

Consumer Rights

You have rights!

Ever returned poor or faulty goods for the shop to simply dismiss your complaint? Well, not anymore...

Read on to find out what to do if goods or services go wrong.

If you can't find what you're looking for, or would like some more advice, simply get in touch with Advice SU by emailing and an adviser will get back to you.

The Law

The law makes sure that when you buy a good or use a service it must:

  • Fit the description given
  • Be of satisfactory quality
  • Be fit for purpose
  • Last a reasonable length of time

If whatever you buy doesn’t meet these requirements, take it back to the retailer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to a refund, replacement or repair.

If you simply don’t like your gift, change your mind or it doesn’t fit you have no legal right to a refund or exchange. Many shops do have a returns policy so check this out before you buy.

Faulty Goods

If your goods are faulty your contract is with the retailer. It is their legal responsibility to make sure that your statutory rights are met.

  • If the shop tells you to contact the manufacturer, this is wrong
  • You don’t need a receipt to return faulty goods. You only have to show proof that you purchased the product. A receipt is the easiest way, but any other legitimate proof is acceptable, for example, a credit card statement. If the retailer does not accept the proof you provide, contact Consumer Line

Late Delivery

If you arrange for goods to be delivered and either you or the retailer specified the goods were for delivery before a specific time (such as Christmas) and you don't get them in time, it's a breach of contract and you've a right to compensation.

  • Write "must be delivered before Christmas" on order documents before signing
  • If you pay for any single item costing over £100 by credit card you have added protection. The credit provider is jointly liable if the goods are faulty or the retailer goes out of business and you do not receive your goods
  • Remember it is always better to only use a credit card if you can clear the balance in full within the month or are confident that you can maintain the repayments

Sample Letters

If you have a complaint against a retailer or a credit company you may need to send a letter.  Before you put pen to paper make sure:

  • You have a valid complaint
  • You have the correct name and address of the retailer or the credit company
  • You have copies of any documents, receipts, guarantees or reports which you may need to send with your letter


  • Quote your reference or account number if you have one
  • Keep a copy of your letter
  • Don’t send original documents
  • Send your letter by recorded delivery
  • Write as soon as you can
  • If you don’t get a reply to your letter write again after a reasonable time, say 14 days

Consumerline have some some examples of letters which should help you to sort out your complaint.  You can use these to enter your own details and print off a copy for posting.

Online Shopping

More than one in three consumers in Northern Ireland shop regularly online.

  • If you buy online, over the telephone or through a catalogue, under the Distance Selling Regulations you have a right to a no-fault return within seven days of receipt.
  • If you buy from a trader on eBay you have the same rights as above. If it is a private seller you don’t have any consumer rights.

The Consumer Council have produced a handy guide to help you to shop safely online. Check it out right here.

Helpful Links

You can get more information on your rights from:

Consumer Council
0800 121 6022

Consumer Line
0845 600 62 62

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