Whether you’re shopping for clothes, homewares, or tech, we’re often told that picking something “pre-loved” is the most sustainable option. It can also be cheaper, but if you buy second-hand goods and have problems, your rights depend on who you bought them from.

We explain your consumer rights when buying used, including your right to a refund…

What are my rights when buying from a second-hand store?

“Buying from a retailer gives you more protections than buying from an individual,” says Martyn James, consumer rights expert with independent problem-solving service Resolver.

This means that if you buy second-hand (or new) from any store, including charity shops, you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act (CRA).

“This gives you the right to return faulty or misrepresented goods,” says Martyn. “Used items will be worn, but the retailer should have told you about any faults or issues.”

ARC means that the items must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. So if a defect occurs within the first 30 days that you weren’t notified of, such as a DVD from a charity store that won’t play, or a skirt with a broken zipper, you can request a refund.

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What are my rights when I buy second-hand online?

Buying online gives you protection under the Consumer Contracts Regulations (CCR), which applies whether you’re buying new or used. These regulations state that the merchant must provide accurate information about the goods, clearly indicate any delivery costs and specify who pays the return costs.

You can cancel your order up to 14 days after placing it and have an additional 14 days to return the items.

What are my rights when buying used on eBay?

However, if you are buying from a private individual rather than a trader on eBay (the seller details on a listing will tell you if you are buying from a registered professional seller), the CCR terms do not apply.

The good news is that eBay has its own dispute resolution service in case something goes wrong. If you buy a used item that arrives damaged or doesn’t match the listing description, you can get your money back under their money-back guarantee (even if the seller says they don’t accept the returns).

To start the process, log into your eBay account, find the item you’re having trouble with, and choose the Contact Seller option. If they don’t respond or offer a satisfactory solution, then you can use eBay’s resolution service to take it further. Be aware that there are some exclusions to its money back guarantee – you will need to have paid via eBay using PayPal rather than bank transfer or in person. There is also no protection if you buy a car on eBay.

What are my rights when buying a used car?

As with other used purchases, your rights when buying a used wheelset will be determined by where you bought the car or who you bought it from, says Gary Rycroft, partner at Joseph A Jones & Co LLP.

You are protected by the CRA if you buy from a car dealership. “This means that the car must be repaired or replaced free of charge if it breaks down within six months of purchase,” he explains. “It also means you can claim your money back if the defect develops within the first 30 days.”

If the dealer you purchased from is a member of the Automotive Ombudsman, there is also support if you need help resolving a dispute.

Buy privately, however, and you have fewer rights. “Some parts of the ARC don’t apply and the only legal obligation the seller owes you is to accurately describe the car,” says Gary. If you have problems with a car you bought from a private seller and the seller isn’t cooperating, your only recourse is to take them to small claims court.

Small Claims Court fees start from £35 for a claim of up to £300 and operate on a sliding scale. You would pay £80 court costs for a claim of up to £1,500, for example.

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What are my rights when I buy second-hand technological or electrical items?

Buying a refurbished used mobile, laptop or game console from a second-hand store, such as Game or Cash Converters, means you are covered by the ‘BOW.

It’s also worth checking the store’s own policy. With Game, for example, all “used” products come with a 12-month warranty against defects, which means money back as long as you have proof of purchase.

Safety first

Be careful when buying used electrical appliances and always look for a PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) label, which indicates that the items have been checked, tested and are safe to use.

Most charity shops won’t resell electrical appliances, but those that do, such as the British Heart Foundation, carry out PAT tests and the items have the labels to prove it. It’s the seller’s responsibility to check for any product recalls, but it’s also worth doing it yourself, especially when shopping for appliances. You can check if a product has been recalled here.

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